Growing up, I didn’t know my extended family super well. Part of being homeschooled in a large family is you don’t really consider that you need any connections outside of that main family group—so most of the things I know about my aunts, uncles, and cousins are from stories I heard from my parents.
One such story was about a relative who had a reputation of being a serial divorcee—like he’d been in multiple marriages which had all only lasted a few years. On the third or fourth wedding, some family member told him, “I hope you both have a happy marriage” to which he replied, “Yeah, we’ll see how it goes.”
Like most of you, I don’t really know how I feel about this attitude toward marriage—I think if you’re going to all the trouble to have a wedding, your feelings should probably be more along the lines of “this is my life’s love which burns for me—like an eternal flame our love will be legendary!” instead of an attitude one might have toward a one-night stand. However, I do kind of like this response just because it’s not one we hear from people going into big life decisions. Like, whenever people are going into college, a career, or a relationship commitment they’re usually really optimistic about everything working out great and nothing possibly going wrong.
The reality of course is that things can and do go wrong all the time. Any marriage or career is subject to unplanned changes and challenges that may end up affecting your initial ideas of what it is you want out of your life with this person or job.
I’ve often been openly critical when it comes to toxic positivity—this idea that permeates self-help books and a large portion of internet content which seems to think any problem in life can be solved with a can-do attitude and the right soundtrack. It’s an idea that is often coupled with that of manifestation—the idea that you can somehow conjure up the things you want by essentially wishing them hard enough. Obviously, that doesn’t work, but a surprisingly large number of people strongly believe in it as a self-help method.
However, much like an overemphasis on positivity, commiting yourself to manifestation ultimately sets you up for disapointment as—sometimes things just don’t work out. Sometimes bad things happen—sometimes things aren’t going to work out, and there’s nothing you can do about that.
As much as that sucks though, it shouldn’t stop you from doing things. Just because you’ve flunked out of school doesn’t mean getting your degree is hopeless. Even if you haven’t finished that novel or written that great opus or get your art to where you want it to be doesn’t mean you won’t. And yes, just because you’ve been divorced before doesn’t mean you can’t find love. Positivity still has a place in your life—optimism can be very empowering especially when things get tough, and you need to keep going. But beyond that, sometimes it’s important to keep in mind that things may not work out and that’s okay. At the risk of sounding like a self-help guru, you will still be here. You’re going to survive your failures—until the day you don’t—which statistically speaking, probably won’t be our fault.
The bottom line is: keep taking risks. Keep pursuing the things you want, keep trying your best every day, and in the words of my uncle, cousin, or whatever relation he was to me, “we’ll see how it goes.”