I’ve always been an ambitious girl, who, from my parents’ struggles and successes, have learned that we need to work hard to get what we want in this life. I’ve taken risks and pushed myself out of my comfort zone with the security of knowing that nothing is out of my reach if I work hard enough for it. I’ve realized, through multiple life experiences (and Disney movies), that I can achieve anything if I have the right amount of effort and perseverance. I’ve been practicing an attitude of patience and hope through it all, but have slowly come to see that my control over most aspects of my life is merely a delusion. Take a girl like me and you’ll see that these qualities, which are praised in such a fast-paced society, can also foster an ultimate flaw: fear.
This certain type of fear makes it hard to be patient in waiting for desired circumstances, and makes it even harder to trust God with the entire process. This fear has made it almost impossible to jump into an opportunity, self-made or given, without the thought of failing. I’ve become a person that is always anxious about my future because a person that believes they’re truly in control of everything will also believe that it’s their responsibility to make sure they make a life they want. That being said, when I “fail” I take it more personally than I would like to, and when I succeed, I feel more pride than I should. In reality, none of my successes would be possible without God, yet because of my own insecurities, I convey my appreciation by placing doubt in Him when I face such “failure.”
I have big dreams in my life, composed of both personal and professional aspirations, but I have to understand that some of those goals are out of reach at the moment. I can only do the best I can to live in the present and to plan on having none of my actual plans follow through. Ultimately, I need to trust, not out of naivety, but out of faith, that even with the unknown aspects of my future, there is and always will be a known God.
Recently, I had applied to advanced standing MSW (Masters in Social Work) programs and had planned on getting my masters by May 2018 to start my “ideal” job in the social work field shortly after. However, I got rejected from one of the universities and I felt like I had failed because, being the girl that I am, I believed that if I had just worked harder, I’d receive that acceptance letter. But before indulging in my disappointment and self-pity, I felt compelled to believe that this is a part of “God’s plan for me,” no matter how bitter that phrase made me feel. For weeks I have been wrestling with the idea of trusting God, not truly knowing where I stood yet because I hadn’t been been let down like this in a while.
The concept of God’s plan is complicated for me to grasp because I had always believed that it was our hard work and drive that got us anywhere in life. If we want a certain job or a certain lifestyle, we need to seize or make opportunities without hesitation. We need to do whatever it takes to get there the right and honest way. This begs the question of destiny and whether or not I believe God only has one plan for us. Is our fate solely reliant on his will rather than our own? All my life people have been telling me that I have to believe in fate or self-determination, but I’ve always believed in something rather in between. If God had only one fate for each of us in which he controlled, the world would be a better place, but it’s not. I feel like the world is so crappy because we are given free will to make our own decisions and humans make mistakes. I believe that our life is like a tree and the surplus of branches are God’s multiple paths for us. Every decision we make will determine one fate and every decision we make from there will determine another (so on and so forth). The branch that we follow also intersects with other peoples’ because their decisions affect us, just like our decisions affect them. So, rather than having one predetermined destiny, I feel like there are multiple destines and our destinies are changing with every decision we or others make. However, those destinies are touched by God– as long as we try to center our lives around Him and do good, we will end up on the most optimal path, the one he wants for us.
Whether you believe in God, in a different higher power, or in nothing at all, I implore you (as I implore myself) to work hard to make a life you want. At the same time, be gracious with yourself because the world we live in is made up of multiple systems and we are each just a small fraction of it. If you start to feel self-pity as you reflect on your life, the outcome of your decisions, or where you are in respect to your goals, remember that there is a bigger picture here: it’s not all about you.
We can fear the unknown or embrace it, but no matter how much we hope for, anticipate, or dread the future, the only true control we have lies in the NOW, which is the only time we are guaranteed. Work towards growth, but be mindful and present.
Do not work towards being happy “one day.” Be happy now.