“The universe is random,” I used to say. That was what I always believed. Nothing is supposed to happen. It’s all just up to chance; a roll of the dice.
I used to say that, but I never really understood what I was saying until recently.
For a long time, I was plagued by depression—I forgot what it felt like to be happy. When I finally began treatment and overhauled my life, I heard my friends and family say something like this: “The world owes you one.”
It made me wonder. Did I deserve something in return for the hardships I went through?
I didn’t think much of it at first. I just hoped that things would get better, and they did. I felt like I was catching up on all the happiness my life had been lacking, and I loved it.
My thoughts returned to that idea that the universe owed me a favor; that I deserved a few happy years for what I had gone through. I examined what I was really telling myself—that it was up to the mystical powers of “the universe” to improve my situation, and that I didn’t really have anything to do with it at all.
Immediately, it struck me how dangerous a mentality like this is. It’s so easy to blame your problems on someone else, or in this case, on a ghost villain, but it’s difficult to admit your own responsibility. We see this every day: people blaming others for their problems, and accepting their situations as immutable instead of blazing their own trail.
Since I realized how easy it is to fall into that trap, I make a conscious effort not to complain if I’m the one who’s really making things difficult for myself. Once you start taking responsibility for your actions and your situation, things really do become much easier. It’s something we all need to hear every now and then, to avoid falling into a pattern of passive self-destruction. The world doesn’t owe you anything, and that realization is liberating.
It’s not my fault that I had depression, but it is my fault that I ran away from my problems for so long instead of dealing with them. It’s tough to admit (at least partial) responsibility for the bad in your life, but it makes it infinitely easier to work through your problems.
It also allows you the incredible satisfaction of taking responsibility for the good things that have happened to you. It wasn’t the universe that gave me those two amazing years, it was me and my new willingness to embrace what the world has to offer.
The world doesn’t owe you anything, and to believe it does is to undermine any hard work you’ve done in creating a good life for yourself. You don’t control everything in your life, but you control how you act, how you deal with your problems, and how you treat others. You can choose to work towards a better future for yourself. Once you accept that your life is in your hands, it becomes so much easier to achieve happiness.