When things get murky or confusing or sad or infuriating, I find the same 5-word phrase leave my lips, “Everything happens for a reason”. Even as a not religious person, this phrase gave me some comfort. Knowing that whatever the rough patch, it happened for a reason, that something bigger would fall in my lap. This phrase wrapped me up like a blanket, eased my worrying mind and made watching 5 hours of the Gilmore Girls a much more relaxing experience because I knew a new job, the resolution to an argument or the solution to the world’s problems would magically happen. It wasn’t my job to figure this stuff out, it was God’s or the universes’ or Oprah’s. Whoever was responsible, it definitely wasn’t me.
Then, as time went on, I found myself looking at that phrase and the actions, or inactions, it allowed me to do. And like so many things that used to comfort me when I was younger, I realized it was hurting me more than it was helping me because a crutch disguised as comfort never gets you far. So I’m here to break some hard truths to you, everything does not happen because of some secret magical purpose. Sometimes you get into a fight with your partner because you’re really bad at being wrong and that causes you to talk down to them. Sometimes you don’t get a promotion because you were trying to coast when you should have been working hard. Sometimes we get tricked into thinking the world has come much farther than it has because we only talk to people that agree with what we’re saying.
“Everything happens for a reason” gives me permission to sit and wallow in self-pity until something better comes along, because it will, because this shitty moment happened so a better one could fall into my lap. Unfortunately, that’s just not true. If you don’t learn to be wrong, you’re going to have the same argument with your significant other. If you don’t start working hard, you will remain in the same position until you get fired, and if you don’t listen to people that don’t agree with you, we will never make any progress. Bad things, and good things, happen to teach us lessons, but we can’t learn if we aren’t willing to see the role we played in the situation, and in a world built on ego, that feels a lot harder than it should.
There were a lot of things I’d love to leave in 2016. So many in fact that I could very easily write a whole extra article on it. At the top of that list however, I’m putting “Everything happens for a reason”. Instead of insisting that something better will fall at my feet with no effort on my part, I’m going to replace that phrase with “What did I learn” Less words, more action. Less “I wish”, more “I did” and a whole lot less “poor me” with an extra dash of “watch me”. Happy almost 2017, guys. Let’s make this next year a less shitty version of the last one. If we’re being honest, it shouldn’t be that hard.