In the last two days, I have had several moments where I realized what my biggest self-loathed quality is.
I hate relinquishing control of my future.
Let me backtrack for a second. I’ve gotten to the point in my academic career where I am starting to make decisions about post-graduation life. I’ve applied to graduate school and several internships, and in every experience, the thing I hate the most is having to try and put my entire self onto paper, and then give it to a complete stranger and effectively say, “Decide my fate.”
I know that I’m being incredibly hard on myself and that I am actually pretty good at what I do, but it’s really hard to shake this feeling. I was trying to think of what other things I had read that shared the same sentiment, and what conclusions they had come to.
To Google I go.
I found a lot of posts on relinquishing control to God, which didn’t really comfort me as I am not religious. I also found several motivational speaker websites and self-help tutorials, which I am highly skeptical of after taking a class in general psychology that warns against both avenues.
However, I did find a really great quotation by Elizabeth Gilbert. (I didn’t think Eat, Pray, Love the movie was very good, but I won’t hold that against the validity of this quotation.)
Destiny, I feel, is also a relationship – a play between divine grace
and willful self-effort. Half of it you have no control over; half of
it is absolutely in your hands, and your actions will show
measurable consequence. Man is neither entirely a puppet of the Gods, nor is he entirely the captain of his own destiny; he’s a little of
both. We gallop through life like circus performers balancing on two
speeding side by side horses – one foot is on the horse called fate,
the other on the horse called free will. And the question you have to
ask every day is – which horse is which? Which horse do I need to
stop worrying about because it’s not under my control, and which do I
need to steer with concentrated effort?
I realized after reading this that Gilbert has said some pretty incredible things in just a few words. Life is a balance between the conscious choices we make and the cosmic intervention that helps us along the way. I’ve made mostly right decisions for myself all along, and I need to trust in myself that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to. I’ve made and will continue to make the conscious decisions to further my education and career, and I just need to let the universe sort it out.
While I love a poem like “Invictus,” I also now understand that we can’t be entirely independent from life itself. And the horses metaphor she makes is really incredible, because it’s an entirely accurate way to describe how I’ve felt for the past six months. I need to figure out which horse to focus on in both my daily situations and longterm goals, and I think that’s something everyone can work on for the rest of their lives. And plus, life is too short to be worrying about things beyond my control.
How do you feel about Gilbert’s quotation, and have you ever felt this way about your life? Let’s talk about it in the comments.