The first time I realized that decisions are not wholly my own was when I was choosing which college I wanted to attend. The whole time you’re in high school, you’re told this narrative: “If you work hard enough, you can go to the college that you want.” To put it bluntly, that’s not always true.
When I was a senior, I applied to 13 schools (indecisive much?), and I got into ten, and I had to knock out about half of them based on the cost. I had never thought about money. But a lot of my choice had to be based on it.
I remember being extremely frustrated, and I got even more frustrated when my parents started pushing me to go to Fordham because it was close to home. After thinking that I was becoming an adult and that I’d finally get to make my own decisions, I found that immediately to be untrue. I felt as if I had lost all autonomy.
I’m going to break the good news to you now: I made it. Not only did I make it, but I LOVED my time at Fordham (and I NEVER stop talking about it). Read: Fordham was by no means my first choice college. And I only loved it because first, I acknowledging God’s place in the whole process. Then, I changed my attitude.
Similar things have happened since then, where decisions have happened to me more than I have consciously made them. I think that the older you get, the more you are affected when decisions are made for you, and especially when they are not in your favor (ah, young adulthood…). Frankly, I don’t like to be told what I can and cannot have, or do.
But what can we do once a decision has been made for us? Not much.
Except live in it and make it work. Not every decision that has affected me has been my first choice. And after copious amounts of moping, I’ve come to realize that many more won’t be in the future.
When you’re a child, your parents make every decision for you. They tell you not to touch the stove when it’s on, so you don’t. Why not? Because you don’t want to burn yourself. Your parents know what’s best for you. You trust them, even though you’re seriously too young to realize that that’s what’s happening.
Just like you have to trust God in times when decisions aren’t necessarily your own. Be humble and trust Him enough to accept that what is happening to you is what is best for you.
The only person that you can lean on during these times is God. He’s the only one that we can really always trust to guide us away from the stoves of young adulthood. Maybe you didn’t get that job, maybe that friend wanted to end your friendship, and you’re frustrated because you doubt that someone else could make the right decision for you.
That’s precisely the moment when the only thing that you can do is humble yourself. Accept the decision that has been made for you. Accept God’s part in it. Truly live in it. Look for the Lord no matter where you are or what happens to you. Because I promise, He’s there.
Sometimes, doing this can make us content. But other times, it can change our perspective entirely, or even make us happier. Most of all, it’s a sign of maturity that we trust God no matter what rather than assuming that because we didn’t get what we wanted we’ve been abandoned. You can’t spend your whole life thinking about that college you didn’t go to, that opportunity that you didn’t get to experience, or that person who didn’t choose you. You can’t spend your whole life thinking about that stove you didn’t touch; that will burn way more than touching it ever would have.
What you can do is accept that this is the path that God has put you on, and that this will help you grow into the adult that you’re becoming. Note that your autonomy isn’t being taken away from you. Instead, the decision (wink wink) to react to it in a certain way is being given to you. That's where the attitude change comes--when you realize that the real decision is not choosing what will happen next in life but deciding to put your trust in God and treat every moment as a gift from Him.
Maria is the Administrative Coordinator of Y2AM. She is a New York native who isn't completely sold on the city's charm, yet has never left. A proud graduate of Fordham University and occasional runner, she is happiest whenever chocolate, a sale, or a good Gilmore Girls reference is involved.