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By Brianna Wiest

I have a bit of relationship advice that, had I been given five or so years ago, would have saved me a significant amount of existential angst: if you have to ask yourself whether or not it’s “meant to be,” it usually isn’t.

Why? Because if you’re sitting wondering whether or not some force beyond you will step in and make miracles without your active input, you will be waiting forever. If it’s “meant to be,” you’ll know, because it already will be happening. Your “destiny” isn’t a guessing game, a riddle you figure out to unlock its unfolding. Life is not what happens when you figure out what should be next and then all of a sudden, it’s realized. The only thing that needs to be realized is your potential, your sole ability to get out there and try, do what you can with what you have from where you are and choose. In the words of Oprah (who else?) if you are waiting for someone to save you, fix you, or even help you, you’re wasting your time.

I personally believe in fate in maybe a more practical way. There are circumstances into which we’re born that determine what we’ll ultimately be. Biologically, genetically, culturally. There are elements of who we are that we’ll inevitably make manifest eventually. I’ll never be a rocket scientist, only because I don’t possess the psychological capability to understand that or take interest in it. Is this my fate? Maybe. Or is it just the natural progression from what already exists? Probably.

To put it in even more practical terms: certainly there are things too uncanny to be solely coincidental, but to subscribe to the belief that we are at the whim of a god and universe with whom we do not interact or co-create is dangerous and leads to passivity and perceived victimhood.

If there’s a greater plan at work, I imagine it would go something like this: you must get from point A to point B. Point A is a relationship that’s so crucial to your becoming you must go through it. Point B is the job you take in the new city you don’t want to move to but which ultimately leads you to the friend who introduces you to your new partner who you move to the right city to be with anyway (see the picture?) You must get to each point, but you can choose whatever road you’d like to get there – hard, easy, fast, complicated, straightforward or not – though you’ll get there eventually. And you’ll get there as the result of what inherently engages you. What peaks your interest. Who you are and what you want and what you’re afraid of.

You don’t have to go searching for your fate. You don’t have to ponder the inevitability of things, or piece together evidence to prove to yourself something is “right.” (Because what does “right” mean anyway? Aligned with what you once thought you wanted.)

The point is that your fate does not unfold because you’re conscious of it. Nothing’s going to work out the moment you pull together enough evidence and decide that the signs all point to “yes.” Doing so is an exercise in desiring control, in being unable to confront whatever it is that’s keeping you from the experience you desire in the first place.

And letting go of seeking evidence for what’s “meant to be” in favor of choosing “what you feel called to in the moment” is what will ground you, and keep you present, and active, and completely immersed in your life. The joy is not in discovering whether or not something is destined to be. It’s in living it, whether or not you realize it’s right for you or not. There’s so much to be learned in the things that don’t feel right, they are almost rendered necessary. We could never piece together the mental landscape of what and who we are had we not first come to know who and what we aren’t.

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