I’m not sure whether I believe in fate or destiny. Well I mean, I don’t. Not really. But some things do just seem meant to be.
I’ve heard about or experienced various examples of this, but I was particularly struck by a story my Nana told me last week. When my Aunt was in her teens, one of her brother’s friends quite liked her. But he was quite a bit older than her, and nothing happened. Years later he was married with a son, she had a partner with whom she later had a daughter, but my Nana and Aunt passed him one day and my Aunt said to my Nana ‘That’s the man I should have married’. Well, long story short, his marriage failed, she left her partner, the two of them have now been together for, ooh, I don’t know, probably around ten years.
So maybe there are some things that will just work out, because how could they not? And you don’t regret the things that got in the way of it happening sooner, because they’re not necessarily bad things, and sometimes they’re needed. I’m sure my Aunt wouldn’t say she’d rather have been with this man from the start, because then she wouldn’t have my cousin. So yes, I do think there are some times when you just have to trust that if it is meant to happen, it will happen.
But there’s only so much that you can leave to fate. At some point you have to take charge, say this is what I want, and just go for it.
Of all the Birthday wishes I’ve ever made I’ve only had one come true. And that’s because it wasn’t so much a wish as a decision. I was about to blow out my fifteen candles, when I looked across to one of the party guests, one of my friends, and thought, I wish he’d just ask me out. Three days later he did. But that’s because making that wish gave me the resolve to just tell him (in a roundabout way via text messages) how I felt.
At the beginning of this summer I broke up with my (more recent) boyfriend. I had all sorts of guilty feelings about it, and wondering whether I was doing the right thing, whether I’d regret it, but also at the same time thinking maybe I shouldn’t have got into a relationship with him in the first place, and just generally feeling like I’d messed everything up.
On one of my holidays this summer I met a man (it seems strange saying that, I’m at the age where neither man/woman nor boy/girl sound quite right in describing people roughly my own age) in a pub one evening, and he seemed very nice, but I completely messed up conversation (full story here). I was kicking myself afterwards, and kept hoping I’d happen to run into him again so I could get it right. But fate did not put him back in my path.
Later I met someone else who was clearly interested in me. By this point I was feeling quite lonely and desperate, so decided I would find an opportunity to get him alone and kiss him. But fate, or bad luck, or whatever intervened late in the evening, and so the opportunity was taken away. And maybe this was a good thing in the long run; I may have regretted kissing someone I didn’t really know or even like that much, but I was still annoyed that it hadn’t worked out as simply as it had seemed it would.
In between all of this I was at home, becoming increasingly aware of returning feelings for my first boyfriend, thinking vaguely that if the perfect scenario arose it would be easy to tell him, but if not then it just wasn’t meant to be.
And so we get to last week; my cruise holiday. Most of the people on the cruise were quite elderly, but there were a few other young people, one of whom caught my eye straight away. I kept seeing him around, and each time I did we made proper eye contact and smiled for a few moments. This wasn’t the kind of smile you give any random stranger you pass by. This was the kind of smile that made me unable to stop smiling for half and hour afterwards just from the memory of it, that made me feel all warm inside, that felt like a real connection between us. However it was a big boat, and every time I saw him he was with his family, or I was with my nana, or we were busy with places we needed to go. I kept trying to find the perfect moment when we were on our own and I could talk to him, I was forever walking around the ship keeping an eye out for him, but, of course, the moment didn’t happen. We were on this ship together for a whole week, and in that time we only spoke three words to each other (when going through a door, he said ‘after you’ and I said ‘thanks’).
On the last night I was standing on deck, lamenting the lack of opportunity to get to know this boy, when I had a realisation.
It felt like I’d spent the whole summer regretting things that hadn’t happened, or that I hadn’t said, and I kept putting it down just to lack of opportunity, but I hadn’t really always done everything. I could have gone straight back to the cellist and asked his name. I could have suggested a walk down to the beach with the other guy earlier in the evening, before everything went wrong. And there were a few times on the cruise when I could have just said hi to that boy, and not cared who else was around, or if I’d turned round a few seconds earlier or later a couple of times, things could have been different.
But I didn’t do any of those things. I could put it down to just not being a very confident person, which I’m not, but that’s not all there is to it. I keep waiting for destiny to present me with these perfect moments, easy opportunities, and so I miss the vague chances which I do have. They’re gone, however much I replay them in my head with me acting differently or something different happening, I can’t change it now, and I’ll never know what could have happened.
So there, looking out over the sea, I realised that there are some times when you need to just go for it, and I decided that I was going to get to the end of the summer and be able to look back and feel I’d got at least one thing right. And I knew what I had to do.
A couple of nights ago I was out with some friends. This time I didn’t wait until my ex and I just so happened to be alone together and having a deep conversation, I just got myself next to him as we were all walking to someone’s house, and said ‘can I talk to you for a minute?’ We loitered until everyone had gone past, then I awkwardly forced myself to tell him that I like him again. I knew he probably wouldn’t feel the same. And it’s not as though I actually want anything; there were problems in our relationship before anyway, we’re about to start different unis, and I really don’t think I should be in any relationship until I could sort out this mess of emotions I have at the moment and stop feeling so strongly about these ransom people I’ve met, and just have my life slightly more under control. So considering all this, I was surprised at quite how upset I was by him kindly apologising that he knew how I felt (I dread to think how many of my other friends have picked up on it), but there was nothing he could do about it. I said it was fine, I didn’t want anything, it’s what I expected, and anyway I deserve it after how I treated him. Then I walked home, crying most the way.
But you know what? I already feel better about it. Hopefully now the next time I see him I won’t have these hidden things weighing down on my. And I can stop wondering about all the ‘what ifs’ (except, of course, ‘what if I never broke up with him in the first place?’ and just enjoy the last two weeks with my friends.
I still think the same about this ex as I did when we first broke up; maybe one day we’ll get back together, but that will happen if and when the time is right. But now I also know that I’ve got to at least give fate the chance to make things happen. I’ve got to make and take opportunities, not wait for them to happen to me. And above all, if I’m ever going to be with him – or anyone else – again, I have to start by being honest about my feelings.
But I’ll let you know how awkward it is next time I see him.
Wow, that was a long one, thank you if you read it all. Here are some songs which I think link to how I’ve been feeling about all of this:
Guess We’ll Never Know by Carrie Hope Fletcher
Life’s Too Short by Scouting For Girls
Get It Right from Glee