It is a rare thing, finding wisdom hiding in a TV commercial. But I just heard this little gem on a Pure Michigan ad:
“Sometimes life isn’t just about finding yourself; it’s about creating yourself.”
Well, damn. Yes, yes it is. Thank you, voice of Tim Allen, for making me think, and for helping me remember a point I have been meaning to make.
I hear people say, frequently, that if something is meant to be, it will happen. That notion of god closing a door and opening a window has been thrown in my face many a time. And I have a large Catholic family and a very religious mother who promote prayer whenever life presents you with pretty much anything, be it hope or hardship. “It doesn’t hurt to pray about it,” my mom tells me on a weekly basis.
All of these mindsets, I believe, allow a certain amount of inaction, and that bothers me. To me, life is not about sitting back and letting things happen to you and around you; it is about going out and making shit happen. I believe that very very firmly. And while some people are comforted by the notion that if they don’t get that job they were hoping for or that relationship didn’t work out, then, oh well, it wasn’t “meant to be,” I like to feel like I am in control of my destiny, even if that means taking responsibility for my failures.
I pissed and moaned for a month when I wasn’t getting a job after my college graduation. I put the blame on everybody else: “No one wants to give me a chance”; “If they’d just meet me they’d like me.”; “Well she met me and was clearly put off by my beauty, so, psh, fuck her.” It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that maybe I just wasn’t qualified. Maybe I wasn’t the brilliant interviwee I thought I was. And maybe, just maybe, just because I am a writer doesn’t mean I have any fucking idea how to write a fucking cover letter. While that realization certainly stung, it put me back in control. How does one become qualified? Education and experience, so I’d have to either start at lower level gigs, or go back to school. How does one improve her interview skills? Um…OK, well, I’m still not sure about that one. Practice…being normal? How does one become a better applicant? Research and writing writing writing until something starts sounding less like crap.
Even if taking responsibility meant that I was lacking, I had the opportunity to improve and move on. By saying that it simply wasn’t meant to be takes all the control out of my hands and gives it to the ether. That’s just too scary. If I don’t have some say in what happens to me, then what am I doing here? I don’t believe I am a pawn being moved around by god. I don’t believe in fate. Or destiny. So how can I believe some things are simply meant to be. I can’t.
I believe in taking action and creating the life you want. That’s what I believe.
And it all occurred to me thanks to a tourism ad. Who woulda thunk it?
Yeah, I heard this quote about creating yourself rather than finding yourself it just rang so true. You can look for yourself all you want, or you can go out and make yourself. You can pray about your crappy car 24/7, or you can go get it fixed. I love my mom, but maybe if she prayed a little less about my dad’s drinking and made a few more decisions about what to do about it, maybe he would be sober by now, or maybe his drinking wouldn’t be her problem anymore. Just a crazy thought.
If you are one of those people comforted by prayer and a belief in that-which-is-meant-to-be, and it works for you, and you’re happy, I guess, go for it. But I for one want to be able to take action. I would rather hold my destiny tight in my fist than hand it to someone else and say, “Do with me what you will.”
Now that I’m claiming control of my life, the question becomes: What self am I hoping to create? What life am I hoping to create?
Aye, there’s the rub. The motherfucking rub.