When Books and Life Collide

The last two books I read, though arguably different genres, ended up having some similar underlying themes and so I have some thoughts. Both books I read dealt with ideas of fate and destiny and parallel worlds. In A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (review here), there is an invention called the Firebird, which allows for travel between different dimensions. In that book, there’s a discussion that even between those vastly different worlds, there are patterns. There’s a trend of people gravitating towards each other despite having made different choices. My most recent read was Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young, and this book is all about the idea of fate. The main character has an important decision to make, revolving around the failing health of her grandmother, and that choice divides the rest of the book in two as we follow the result of both possible outcomes. The series of events that follows results in the exploration of the idea that even if we make different choices in life, we can still end up in essentially the same place.

Does fate exist? This is something we’ve all thought about. It’s been discussed in TV, in movies (how many times have I seen Serendipity?) and no one really knows the answer. I don’t even know what I believe myself. I think the reason I want to believe in fate is that it brings with it a certain level of comfort. It’s reassuring to think that there’s a master plan for your life and that even if you’re responsible for your every day decisions, there isn’t much you can do to ultimately derail this.

I think there’s very much a reason I want to believe and it’s all a little personal so bear with me here. I’m 25, but I’m basically the equivalent of a college freshman. I walked the same path the rest of my friends did. I graduated from high school, I attended CEGEP (a 2 year college that is essentially grade 12 plus freshman year of university here in Quebec) and then I went to university. I never stopped to think about what I was doing. I chose a program I thought would be fine, and when I stopped doing well in school, which being smart was always my “thing”, I crashed hard. I developed some very bad study habits over my life and never did anything to fix them, so when I was studying something I didn’t like, things got worse. I kept thinking I was the problem, that I should be able to do this anyway. I didn’t realize what a toll it would take on me. I couldn’t seem to force myself to do the work, and felt anxious about it all constantly. It got to the point where I was just ignoring everything and thinking it would fix itself. I kept trying for YEARS. Finally, I decided I was done. I left school and decided I needed a break, at least for my sanity. In some ways it was a reprieve, in others not so much. My brother was on my case all the time, thinking that that constant pressure was the best thing for me. I think my mom didn’t know what to do with me. She later told me she didn’t think I would even go back to school, despite my having assured her time and time again.

Now to make a long story short (too late) I worked for a year and a half, and finally went back to school this past September to study business. I’m still not 100% sure it’s what I want to do, but I know better this time. I know to listen to myself and to realize that I’m not always the problem. Yes, I can work hard, but if something is not right, I need to change it. And I’m working hard to procrastinate less, because I really felt like I was on the edge of having a much more serious problem with anxiety back then. It’s not a perfect plan, and I’ll probably be close to 30 by the time I finally have my bachelor’s degree, but I finally feel right about what I’m doing, even if starting over is scary as hell.

So what does this have to do with fate? Well I often wonder, what did I do to my life when I made these decisions? Will I end up in the same place eventually, even with a 5 year detour? I really hope so. I hope that I would have found happiness then, and that I’ll find it now. If that’s the case, then I don’t mind that all I’ve done is stretch out my timeline. It’s scary to think that I’ve severely and permanently altered what I could have had, if only I’d learned to trust myself a bit earlier. On the other hand, I may not have been better off if I’d never learned these lessons. I still have to hold back the jealousy sometimes when I see my friends pursuing their master’s degrees and now PhDs, but I need to remind myself that not everyone has the same journey. It’s most definitely a process, but I’m getting there.

If you’ve made it to the end, thank you for reading. I’d really love to hear from you guys if you have anything to say. Maybe you have thoughts on the existence of destiny, or maybe you have your own story to share. Either way, I want to hear it!