Spring break in 2019 started with a disaster and a (sort of) run-in with the law. My sister had dropped me off at the airport with my bags packed for Greece. I was going on a community service trip with a group of people I had never met before. I felt nervous. I was the person that couldn’t eat alone in restaurants, let alone travel to a new country where I knew no one. It didn’t help that I wasn’t sure it was the right thing to do. Was I wrong for choosing this over an offer to go to Morocco with a close friend? Or was it fate?
No matter what, in the end, it’ll turn out okay.
Everything was going according to plan until a man called my name and asked me to follow him, leading me away from the flight gates. I panicked. “Won’t I miss my flight?” Looking me over in my sweatpants and faded Lollapalooza shirt, he told me that due to complications with my visa I wasn’t able to board the plane. Speechless, I was escorted out of the airport.
The car ride home was gloomy. I felt disappointed in myself for not double-checking my documents. I wasn’t sure it was wise to buy another round trip ticket. This felt like a sign. “No spring break this year for me,” I thought, resigned. Plus, I had just lost a lot of money I was probably not getting back.
I called my friend, trying to seek assurance that I wasn’t the dumbest person on the planet. She was in Morocco, already on day two of the trip I gave up. “There’s still a spot for you here,” she said. I laughed lightly, not in the mood for jokes. “I’m serious. There is a flight tomorrow. Just come.”
Sometime that night, I got some of that money back. That had to mean something. The most difficult part of making my next decision was explaining it to my bewildered mother. I caught a flight to Casablanca. That trip became one of the best travel experiences of my life thus far.
I often turn to this story when I start to doubt the trajectory of my life, when it starts to go wayward and I feel myself spiraling into regret. It’s the assurance I need that no matter what, in the end, it’ll turn out okay. Just like how seeing a familiar face at a subway platform when I swore I was hopelessly lost made me pause for a moment and think that maybe I’d find my way home after all. Or how going on a gallery visit with a class led me to meet someone that made the rest of the year fall in an unexpected way.
So, yes, I do (loosely) believe that some things are bound to happen, and mostly for the best. I grew up between parents on opposite sides of the spectrum when it came to faith. The one thing they both agree on is fate. The phrase “what happens, happens” is as common as a greeting at our house. If something bad happens, it is normal to feel bad about it, but it was meant to happen to make way for something. This sentiment has been something I internalized and accepted.
When one door closes, sometimes it means that there was no room for you there anyway.
I heard that a remarkable thing that makes us evolved humans is that we can hold two contradicting ideas to be true at the same time. I know, on one hand, that believing in a preordained fate is a coping mechanism for us to remain sane in a world of chaos. Accept that what is meant for me will be can be a slippery slope, as I can lose a sense of control over my life. Some might even think of the belief in fate as a grandiose coping mechanism, which may be true to some extent.
The important thing is balance and being self-aware. I can’t always miss a flight and jump on another right afterward. But I won’t give up believing in fate– because, at the end of the day it brings me solace to know that I may not be responsible for absolutely everything in my life that goes awry. And it keeps me humble about the things that go right.
When one door closes, sometimes it means that there was no room for you there anyway. The group I was supposedly traveling with didn’t even ask why I had dipped out of the plan. Plus, looking back at it, I wasn’t going with the intention of helping others but rather to do something bold. And to see Greece. My heart wasn’t in it and fate knew it.
There will always be a door that opens up in its place, even in the most unexpected ways. Keeping the thought that “what happens, happens” has made me braver with my decisions. The only thing I can regret is dwelling on regrets themselves because it has long kept me from stepping out of my shell and looking around for new possibilities. Accepting fate has emboldened me, to put myself out there with my writing and be vulnerable no matter what, and to apply to programs that I felt were ‘too good’ or out of my reach. Now I’m here, sharing this with you and off to study literature in the master’s program of my dreams.
I encourage you to take the leap once in a while and trust it. Looking at your life in this way makes you recognize the silver linings even in your most embarrassing slip-ups or a more devastating turn of events.
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