Fate or folly?

Do you ever sit back and look at your life and wonder “How did I get here?”

Was it the choices we did make or the things we avoided? Was it the good decisions or the bad? Was it our mistakes, was it our successes, was it our failures? What brought us to where we are, right this second?

Are we ruled by fate, following a predetermined plan that eventually ends somewhere, doing something, with someone? Does our life follow an invisible dotted line in the sand, with both its ups and downs, leading us to our fate, our destiny, our life?

Or are we fooling ourselves?

Is fate folly?

As I sit back and assess my life (so far), I can resolutely say I am not at all where I ever expected to be. The Aubrey I envisioned at 5 or 10 was NOT sitting in front of a computer, spouting off words like “User Interface Diagrams” and “competitive assessment;” instead, I would be twirling through life as a ballerina or saving lives as a doctor. I would even be writing stories…much greater than the “Teddy Bear Mysteries” that I started in the 4th grade after a bout of the flu, a present of a blank book, and a predilection for Nancy Drew Mysteries. But regardless, I’d be writing.

I’d probably be dating a prince, living in luxury, and taking care of a whole boatload of animals…from hamsters to dogs to giraffes. (I was even a dreamer back then.)

Yet something changed along the way, just don’t know when or where. There’s even books about this that define this introspection as a “Quarter-Life Crisis.” Now, I’ve read that book and though it seems to depress me more, it does pose a few good points.

First, our generation is faced with so many choices that we’re often transfixed by indecision. We grew up being told we can do everything, so when it’s time to choose, we don’t know where to begin.

Secondly, in the midst of all of our indecision, people my age graduated in the height of the economy, where jobs seemed to literally fall at our feet. We were in the midst of a web-boom, where you had the luxury of job-hopping if your current one didn’t exactly fit your fancy. Then, CRASH! went the economy, and many of us have to now change our frame of mind from “I hate my job” to “I hate my job but it’s better than nothing.”

So we’re told we can do anything, we begin to do a bit of trial and error, and then, BAM! Better stay at what you’re doing now before you’re out on the streets, with only your palm pilot and your Prada’s to give any glimmer of your “former” life.

I often consider doing something rash, impetuous, spontaneous. I’ve been faulted with this in the past, not fully thinking through my decisions, but I wonder. If I were to up and move to LA or NYC, would it be my destiny? Would I be fooling fate? Or would I be the fool all along?

I don’t think I’m the only one thinking through these issues…many of my friends are experiencing a similar quandary, not quite happy, not quite sad, but a whole lot confused. We put disclaimers on our happiness–“I’ll be happy when I [fill in the blank with ‘get a boyfriend,’ ‘get a new job,’ ‘lose five pounds,’ or any of many other various contentment clauses]” Putting a contingency on our very happiness is wrong, yet to get out of our respective “funks,” we need to identify what it is that makes us happy.

Not happy for a day, or even a week. What makes our (forgive the cheeseball reference) soul sing? What puts a smile on our faces? What did we think we would be doing at this age when we were kids…and why aren’t we doing it? Figuring out where we are, what we’re doing, and whether we’re happy to be doing just that is the first step. Figuring out where we’re going is the hard, but necessary, second half of this equation. Not a “I’ll be happy when I write my first novel,” but more like a “Writing makes me happy; I choose to pursue that and my end goal is to write a novel.” We often drift through life, continually looking for tomorrow, for the gold at the end of the rainbow that we fail to see the beauty in the experiences, the colors of the rainbow in all their glory.

They say “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” I say that “Life is in the experiences.” We, or at least I, need to take a step back and appreciate what is happening WHEN it is happening. Fate, Destiny, whatever you want to call it…let’s leave that to someone or something greater than us. Why not concentrate on the things we can affect, the experiences we can have, the lessons we can learn. I think it’s time to notice the colors in the rainbow.

Wishing you a happy day before Valentine’s Day…whether you get flowers, candy, a card, or just a smile from your co-worker, have a great one.


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