Sunday, November 15, 2009

Musings On "Meant To Be" And Me

I take issue with the bandying about of the phrase, “meant to be.” When most people hear it, they let it sink into their brain as if it must be an absolute truth. It clearly has ties to religious thinking, and yet, like the concept of “soul mates”, it seems to have gained a new place in peoples' minds. I know people who believe in god but don't believe in “meant to be.” I know people who believe in “meant to be” but not god. I know people who believe in both, and of course, people like myself who believe in neither.

I find it very peculiar that someone who easily dismisses the concept of god or a higher power might still use the phrase, “meant to be.” How did it become its own entity?

I have my theories, one if which is that, like religion, “meant to be” is a very comfortable psychological trap. One of the reasons it irritates me so is that if one were to let it, it would incapacitate one to make important decisions. This is my take on the idea and is not meant to read as having been psychologically verified.

I constantly listen to my friends talk about their romantic relationships. Maybe one of them recently broke up with her boyfriend and is doubting her decision. He tries to tell her that they are “meant to be,” and now she is more confused than ever. Another may have been trying to no avail to schedule a first date with a particular person and has given up, deciding it must not have been “meant to be.”

When we start to enter the realm of “meant to be”, what we are really talking about is our true feelings, whether we are being completely honest with ourselves and others, and whether we think our goals are attainable. When we decide something must not have been “meant to be,” what we are really saying is that we either do not care enough about the goal, or have tried and failed. If my friend is feeling like her relationship was not “meant to be,” she is recognizing her intuitive doubts about the relationship and at the same time shirking the responsibility of having made the decision. If her ex-boyfriend is trying to tell her they were “meant to be” together, he is regretting the outcome of his efforts and his past behavior.

I find this line of thinking sad. If I thought my life was supposed to be anything other than what it was, what would be the point in trying to understand my feelings and making an effort to fulfill my dreams? Wouldn't I just let my life pass me by, hoping that life would just happen? Aren't we all urged by those older and wiser than us to go after what we want? To never settle for less than the best? Aren't we all cautioned by the image of the man stuck in a mid-life crisis because he settled for a job he didn't want, a wife he didn't love, or a mortgage he didn't want to pay? I understand we all have responsibilities, and some of these are unavoidable, but so many attribute these responsibilities to “meant to be,” and never accept that they have the power to change their lives.

There is no cosmic obstacle in my way, secretly taunting me as a I tried in vain to attain my goal. Relying on “meant to be” is an easy way out. It denies control over one's life, and what I find most disappointing, it disallows one to feel pride and a sense of success. If I want something, I work until I get it. If I didn't get it, it's because I either didn't want it enough, didn't work hard enough, or wasn't willing to do what it took (I am in no way suggesting that “doing what it takes” is always the advisable path. Sometimes, certain goals are best left not pursued. I am also not advocating an “ends justify the means” mentality. There are certainly things that we should not do in order to attain certain goals. For example, my friend may decide her goal is to take her ex-boyfriend back and live happily with him. She knows she cannot count on him to change, therefore, she must change. In order to do this and make sure they are happy as a couple, she knows she must move to a different state, leave her family, leave her job, and force herself to live in a situation in which she is personally unhappy. Though she could attain her goal by doing this, the end does not justify the means. Therefore, she must understand that all “meant to be” means in this situation is her instincts telling her to not return to her ex-boyfriend.)

To my mind, this displays the ingenuity and determination of humanity. We made this world happen. We make our lives happen. We don't give up when something stands in our way. This is simultaneously wonderful enough to inspire us to personal and societal greatness, and frightening enough to make us cower in fear of failure. That said, I remind myself as often as I can to make my life what I want it to be, to pursue what I want, and to never accept less than happiness.

Now is one of those times it would be so easy for me to believe in “meant to be.” I may have just made an absolute mess of my life. Alright, that's a bit of an overstatement. I could easily continue on without any appreciable differences. However, that's really not what I want to do. I'd like to write exactly what has happened and what I mean, but I cannot get too detailed, for fear that certain eyes will read this. Normally I would be very honest, but I have been sworn to secrecy. If anyone likes giving out free advice, please e-mail me, but I will try to say as much as I can here.

I have developed feelings for someone. There are serious obstacles in the way of us forming a relationship, but I would like to work past these obstacles. It is possible to do so, but that does not mean others might not get hurt along the way. And no, to make things clear, neither one of us is cheating on anyone else, so that's not one of the roadblocks to which I am referring.

If I was not a rationalist, I could chalk whatever happens up to “meant to be.” If things start to feel too difficult, I could write it off, say it was not “meant to be,” and move on. However, I could also turn a blind eye to the serious issues in the way and forge on, even if the consequences become too great, thinking the consequences must not matter because it is “meant to be.” I know what I want and am willing to do what it takes, but I need an objective eye of clarity which I do not possess for this situation. There is no “meant to be,” there is only what I make of my life. This is an exciting thought, and yet I dread what may be to come. Isn't life grand? Fuck my life.

Feel free to comment or message me directly, if you so please.

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