Has anyone ever called you lucky? Specifically, has anyone ever said you were lucky because of something you had, or got to do? Maybe you have a dream job, a dream romance, or were heading on a dream vacation?
On the other hand, has anyone ever said you deserved something, like an opportunity or windfall, because you’d worked really hard, or you’d had a tough go of things?
I’ve had people say both to me, and I have to say, I don’t love it when they do. It detracts from my personal responsibility and ownership of the choices I’ve made and the work I’ve done, which restricts my sovereignty and places my destiny solely in the hands of fickle Fate.
For sure, I’ve been lucky at times. When I’ve just missed being pooped on by a seagull, I feel pretty lucky. I know it’s supposed to be good luck to be pooped on by a bird, but you know who says that? People who were not just pooped on. I’ve had near misses and close calls (not just of the bird-poop variety), and I’ve also been in the right place at the right time, either to receive something or avoid it.
But when it comes to the circumstances of my life, I don’t think luck is calling my shots, nor do I believe I am any more or less deserving of a good life than anyone else.
While I absolutely believe that a whole lot of life is out of my hands, I’m all the more loathe to give up the parts of life that are within my control: my mindset, my choices and my actions. These are what afford me the opportunities I take advantage of in my life, regardless of what Life hands me.
I’m not lucky because I “get to” work from home, or “get to” travel a lot (remember traveling? Sigh…), or “get to” buy myself nice things because I don’t have kids, et cetera. Each of these are things I’ve chosen and created, and each comes with its own set of costs and benefits, just like every other choice we all make in life.
These are all things for which people have said I was lucky, and it always rubs me the wrong way. This isn’t luck: it’s a series of decisions and their respective repercussions that I’ve empowered.
Now, I’m definitely blessed, fortunate and privileged. For real, a lot of my circumstances are a damn sight better than a helluva lot of the rest of the population of this planet, and for that I’m expressly grateful.
But apart from being born when and where I was, which I do think was a stroke of luck, mostly everything else in my life is something I’ve created by choice, intention, action and sacrifice.
Just like you.
I’m fortunate and privileged that I was able to go to post-secondary school, but it wasn’t a luck dragon that had my grades open the door to any school I wanted. It wasn’t luck that paid my student loans for nearly two decades. That was all me.
I have an amazing marriage, but there was no fairy godmother playing matchmaker with my love life. It’s been two decades of choosing yes and I Do, over and over again, even—and especially—when it would have been easier not to.
People closer to me know the struggles, difficulties and challenges we’ve faced in our marriage, and we didn’t slide through our troubles on the backs of unicorns riding rainbows; we did the work necessary to stay committed to our marriage and in love. We CHOOSE to do this work Every. Single. Day.
Neither do I deserve opportunities because I’ve been through difficult times or because I had a tough childhood. Life doesn’t work that way. No ethereal being is up there, doling out prizes and penalties based on our innate goodness or lack thereof, nor in recompense for challenges or struggles. At least, that’s not the God/Spirit/Universe I choose to believe in (yep, that’s also a choice).
Look, I get it. We love the poetic justice of people getting their just desserts, because it helps us to make sense of an otherwise senseless world. We want good people to be rewarded, just like we want not-so-good people to be punished. We all love it when karma works, but what about all the times it doesn’t?
If we start deciding that what’s happening to us is justified by deserving, then what about when bad things happen to good people, or when good things happen to bad people? Who decides who or what is bad or good enough to warrant the appropriate consequence? What about sick kids? Do they deserve to need to fight for their lives? I certainly don’t think so.
There’s nothing wrong with believing in luck or believing that you are deserving of what you get. I’m not here to say you need to change the way you think. But I will say that getting really clear on how you define luck and deserving, and pay attention to whether your definitions empower you to make your life happen, or disempower you or leave you waiting, wishing and hoping for a magical fairytale ending.
As for me, I’ll continue to think it’s lucky when I have a near-miss when it comes to bird poo or falling trees. And as for who deserves what, I’ll work to wish everyone well, whether I think we deserve it or not.
And the rest, I’ll keep working on creating with my choices and actions and the doors they open for me.