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Serena Mao

All the decisions in you’ve ever made have led up to you reading this sentence right here, right now. Most of these decisions were purposeful- they were made consciously, and of your own choice. But other circumstances have drastically swayed the path of life, and those are influences out of your control. Together, your conscious choices and pure chance consciously shape the life you live.

Your decisions are always portrayed as extraordinarily significant. Choices like which colleges to apply to, which activities to do, which people to associate with. Consider being a high schooler. You have nearly countless choices on extracurriculars: to do dance? Painting? Coding? And yet once you give the decisive “yes” to any of one them, you’ve committed an entire portion of your life to that activity. Every single afternoon, you’re now spending two hours at soccer practice. Those are two hours you can’t spend doing anything else. Now, you’re devoted to the sport. You’ve made friends within your team, you now follow soccer on TV, you run a lot faster and excel physically. You’re now so devoted to the activity that effectively, you can’t imagine a life without it. Imagine if, on that fateful day, you had chosen to start coding instead of soccer. Your life would take a drastic new path, one very different from the one today. But you only have one time in high school, one time to make a decision. Though your actual decision may not matter as much, the simple thought that choosing a different path would lead you down a completely different path. Yet because of the harsh reality of real life, it’s impossible to head down two paths at once.

Though your decisions are essential, chance plays a huge part too, even within those decisions. For instance, your last name isn’t chosen. It’s already decided when you were born. In school, it’s likely that your seating arrangements were decided by last name, and as a result, you interact more with those specific people. As a result, they are more likely to become your friends and therefore shape your life accordingly. Through a conscious decision by the teacher to create a certain seating chart, she unconsciously shapes your life in a way you cannot control and she does not think she is controlling. Another factor you had zero control over was the family you were born into. Your parents have had adequate experience in their lives to decide what they found the most enjoyable, and it is likely that you grew up in an environment that fostered those specific aspects. For instance, a family of software engineers are more likely to bring up a child who loves coding as compared to a family of artists. When the child likely chooses coding as their passion, it’s hard to tell if they actually enjoy it, or because the environment they were raised in pushed them towards it. Chance has played an instrumental role in lives like these.

Chance can also work distinctly for and against us. In cases where it works for us, like when the teacher doesn’t collect homework when you haven’t finished it, it’s easy to get excited. On the other hand, when chance works against us and we feel that it is unfair, the mental frustration kicks in. It’s a lot easier to blame life’s path on chance when it fails us compared to when it gifts us. Instead of taking it for granted when luck works in our favor, we need to be humble and realize it wasn’t our working. But especially when luck works against it, it’s important not to lose hope. It’s insanely easy to fall into the hole of despair, especially when luck has thwarted a huge success or achievement. At the end of the day, it’s essential to realize that it was luck, and luck is just pure chance. It wasn’t anything you could’ve controlled, and there’s no point in being obsessive with it. At the point where it wasn’t your fault, it’s not anything to worry about. When pure chance brings you down, lift your head up and wait for the time it inevitably turns around and pushes you up.

About Michael Chang

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