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Does "Meant to Be" Exist?
I'm trading in signs for confirmations.
I don’t 100 percent believe in “signs” and “messages.” I referred to one in yesterday’s edition of Story Garden. Yet, I know that it could be a coincidence. My husband called it “serendipity,” the occurrence of chance in a beneficial way.
There is a benefit to believing that the universe sent me a message. It renders significance. It offers purpose. It inspires me to keep going when I am doubting.
There are times I feel that life is filled with serendipity. This is what flow feels like to me. There are also times I just don’t feel it. After all, to experience the serendipity of a shooting star, one must be looking up, not staring at work/to-do lists/laundry piles, etc.
My husband sees many shooting stars. He tends to look up. He has a support system that allows him to look up. I am a part of that system. I’m good at supporting.
Since the pandemic, he has received two promotions. One at his regular job and one for his work with the Air Force Reserves. He has also received at least one award. He turned down one job and halted the interview process for another after learning the salary. Meanwhile, I let go of my work plans to stay home with the children, help them with virtual school, and tend to our home.
He looks up. I look down.
I look all around.
I pick up.
I lift up.
Some people are so used to being lifted up and supported by those in their environment that they don’t know the feeling of their own feet on the ground. They believe they floated to the top of their particular (patriarchal) hill on their own merit. They assume others, without the same support, can do the same.
There’s a phrase I learned to ask clients, “Are you willing to be as good to yourself as you are to others?”
Sometimes, that’s not enough. In some environments, it doesn’t matter how much you prioritize yourself if others aren’t willing to offer their support—if they aren’t willing to mirror the sacrifices you make for them. This is especially true in sacrifice-oriented environments.
If multiple people in a system are giving up time, money, etc., to help one person thrive, nobody else thrives unless the entire system changes. That means the system’s benefactor must be willing to let go of the extras. At least.
In the past, I thought that if I worked hard enough I could make things work for me.
I took on projects.
I took them home.
I picked up dropped balls.
I worked nights and weekends.
It wasn’t enough. I didn’t have the same support system. I COULDN’T LOOK UP. I wasn’t in a position to find serendipity, flow, or inspiration.
During this time, my youngest boy would put his hand on my chin and turn my face toward his until our eyes locked. He found ways to pull me into his world. He gently demanded I didn’t ignore him. He gently demanded the letting go I needed to do so that he may thrive. He gently demanded I tend to his isolation and pain. He trusted me enough to reach out to me and to know I wouldn’t ignore him. I’d push aside my work and tend to him. Then, I’d wait until he was in bed and return to my work.
I had become really good at ignoring my own pain; at justifying so that it all made sense. My body, on the other hand, only sensed the struggle. The constriction. The weight of my convictions.
No matter how much I convinced myself I could change things, I couldn’t. Intuitively, I knew this. In the middle of many nights, my dreamer chased me to the surface of consciousness. I awakened gasping for air as if I’d just come up from deep within the ocean.
In our garden, I’ve found three stones with single words on them:
This is a homemade stepping stone. I imagine it was intended to read “breathe.” In the paradigm of doing and being, to breathe is doing and breath is being. They both have value.
Quitting my previous meant losing my job, losing a mentor, and losing a “meant to be” story.
I had a hard time letting go and accepting those losses. There were many little serendipities that I had woven into a story … I just knew (intellectually) the job was “meant to be” even as my body screamed, “This isn’t working!”
I wish I could say I finally realized, “This isn’t what I want,” and that was enough for me to leave. In reality, I realized my family was suffering, so I quit for them.
Inhale—Wanting is enough.
Exhale—Walking away from what I don’t want is OK.
My wants are enough because I am enough.
Meant-to-be storytelling helps justify our choices when wanting doesn’t seem to be enough—when we are not enough. We use it to make up for lack of worth and to help us splash with courage—and joy—into the puddles of our dreams.
The truth is that job was never meant to be. I took a leap. Where I landed wasn’t what I had dreamed.
Yet, my dreams were worth pursuing.
My dreamer knew this. She worked overtime to wake me up on those evenings I felt as if I couldn’t breathe. She was listening to me. She knew. She didn’t give up until I listened to her.
“Your dreams are worth supporting,” she said.
“I am worth supporting,” I realized.
It’s OK to not know.
It’s OK to move forward without a vision.
It’s OK to not predict the benefit of a path.
It’s OK to believe in an ending without a story.
It’s OK to want without justification.
It’s OK to act without a sign.
We look to signs to tell us which way to go.
Follow dreams, not signs, and confirmations will follow.
Confirmations tell us we are in the right place.
Yesterday, it wasn’t a sign that I had encountered, it was a confirmation.
Serendipity is confirmation that falls like stars from the sky. Look up.