I really don’t believe in a higher power, universal energy, or even karma (although sometimes I like to pretend I believe in karma, ’cause it might lead to a meanie getting a well-deserved bite in the ass. Yeah, I’m vengeful that way).
But, sometimes, I get the eerie feeling that something has happened that was meant to be.
Do you ever get that feeling? Like someone (a mentor, a lover, a friend, a teacher), or something (an opportunity, a challenge) dropped out of the sky, usually unexpectedly, and influenced your life in a way that was SO FREAKING UNBELIEVABLY AWESOMELY PERFECT that you can hardly stand it? And then that thing lead to something else that was awesomely perfect and then THAT lead to…well you get the idea. Like it was meant to be. Sometimes you see it more clearly in hindsight, but it’s there.
I’ve been acutely aware of this happening several times in the past ten years. I can actually trace a timeline of these events and pinpoint how they have lead me to where I am today:
1. I moved to Ottawa. It seemed extremely far and I was scared shitless and really had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but my mom somehow convinced me I’d make a good journalist. So off I went to Carleton U for journalism. It was random, but being in Ottawa, at that University, worked out well for me. It was meant to be.
2. That winter I took an elective course entitled “Natural History of Ontario”. I only took it because I was an idiot freshman who didn’t understand how timetables worked and it was the only class I thought could fit into my schedule. The class was taught by a naturalist of epic genius who is, without a doubt, one of the most amazing teachers on the planet. I was enthralled. With no hesitation whatsoever I quit journalism at the end of that year, caught up on science-ey stuff in summer school and came back in the fall as a new Biology student. It all happened because of a moment of frosh naïveté, but it got me on a new career path. It was meant to be.
3. In my third year of undergrad studies, I put a ridiculous amount of debt on my credit card so I could study bats in the tropical rainforests of Belize for three weeks. I thought it would be fun. What it REALLY did was tell my brain, in no uncertain terms: YOU SHOULD BE A BIOLOGIST. It happened because of a spur-of-the-moment decision, and I almost missed out on getting summer employment. But it really sealed the deal of the whole biology/research/field work thing. It was meant to be.
4. I met my future thesis supervisor. She took me under her wing, showed me the ropes and then set me loose to prove to myself that I was capable of conducting meaningful research, and communicating about it. I completed two theses with her guidance. She made me work and write and speak and apply for things until my CV was pretty well-padded. I could have worked with anybody in the university, but I worked with her, and she worked her butt off to help me grow. It was meant to be.
Then I took a break. I stepped away from the academic world for four years. I worked in a lab, a park, a museum, and later in cubicles, getting farther and farther away from what I really loved to do. Somehow, “what I want to be when I grow up” was a concept I was never fully able to actualize. I just knew I wasn’t terribly happy. Then:
5. I got my current job, the one from which I’m fleeing shortly. This was the clincher. Not because I dislike it, no, dislike alone is not sufficiently motivating to make you leave a job that’s permanent, well-paying, and offering good benefits.
What happened was, it exposed me to other people like me. I mean the type of person I COULD have been had I carried on with my studies: researchers, academics, professors. All in love with their work, their schools, their students. I found myself insanely jealous. I wondered why I felt that way. I thought long and hard, then had my “aha!” moment, which sounded a lot like “Duh, you’re supposed to be DOING that kind of work, dummy!” Oh. Had I not been in my current job, where I was able to interact with these academics, the “aha!” would never have happened. Or it would have happened a long time from now. Possibly when it was too late to do anything about it. It was meant to be.
6. So then I fished around for labs. Dr. B seemed to be doing reasonably interesting work. We chatted, clicked and then… he told me about an project he was working on…something completely new and outside of the realm of the research I was expecting to be able to do in his lab…something UNBELEIVABLY AWESOMELY PERFECT and totally unexpected. To which I replied: sign me up brother!!! It seemed totally meant to be.
All of these events/people/circumstances have led me to where I am right now: about 7 weeks away from a new research program, a new university, a new degree and most importantly, a new career. All of which I am so freaking excited about.
Was it dumb luck that these things happened? At the right time, in the right place? Probably. But I really think the reason it’s all turned out so UNBELEIVABLY AWESOMELY PERFECT is because I did a few things:
1. I kept myself open to new opportunities
2. I was willing to deviate from the path I currently had in mind for myself
3. I made myself take risks, even…no ESPECIALLY…when it scared the pants off me
These go hand in hand (and arguably all mean the same thing). Whatever. It works.
Be open. Be brave.
And when karma offers you a sweet deal, for the love of pete, TAKE IT!