Recently, I was chatting with an old friend. She congratulated me for being selected as an Atlas Corps fellow and exclaimed how lucky I was. About five minutes into the conversation she was still focusing on that and how luck favors me all the time and doesn’t favor her as much. She continued that she has had no luck getting any international opportunity, and now she has given up on it. I tried making my points – ‘Atlas Corps fellowship is so competitive and has an acceptance rate, that statically makes it harder to get into institution than Harvard. That does not happen just by sheer luck.’ I tried explaining more. Getting to be an Atlas Corps fellow is not something that just happened. It was a process that took more than a year – several levels of screening and multiple interviews. And this wasn’t even the first time I applied for it. I had done so, some three years ago too – and I couldn’t even get through the first round (no I didn’t get lucky then). And I had applied for few other fellowships too, which were probably not as great as Atlas Corps, but I didn’t get lucky there too. So, when I failed at these, I did not consider myself unlucky or just blamed in on the luck factor. I worked on myself – tried to enrich my experiences and skills and tried again.

But, my friend went on and on about how I should be thankful for the luck I have and not argue about it (this might make me lose it, she said). She kept reminding me about the past happenings where I got lucky too – like when I got my dream job at UNICEF at a young age – would it have been possible if I wasn’t just magically lucky? Well as far as I know, UN does not carry out a lucky draw to select its staff – they actually have the most competitive (complex, time and patience consuming) process there can be. That answer of course did not satisfy my friend.

I know a lot of other people who consider luck or say Destiny to be the deciding factor in what happens in their life – ‘what’s meant to be will be (and what’s not will never)’.

As for me – you can only get as lucky as you prepare for it! For example; you have a chemistry test and decide to study only half of the course that you consider more important. Then, how well you do on the test will depend upon how much of the question consists of the part you studied. You will get lucky if most or all the question comes from the part you studied. But, if you studied all the course – luck wouldn’t be much of a factor. No matter what the questions are, you’ll be able to do fine.

I believe, that is how it is with life. I do feel grateful for the opportunities that came across my way – but they did not fall on my plate ready to be served. I worked very hard for it. It was not easy to complete two master’s degrees while having a full-time job and many side gigs. I worked and am working to create a life I want for myself – and I would like to believe that the course of actions that I take are not the things that are already ‘written on the Stars’.

There are definitely things I am truly grateful for or consider myself lucky for (if I can put it that way) – like I have the most awesome parents – who have supported me and encouraged me to be myself and make my own decisions all my life. In a society, that basically prepares a girl mostly so that she can be married off as a good bride, my parents encouraged me to focus on myself and my aspirations, never doubting or interfering – always supporting and many a times fighting the society for me. I consider myself lucky to have inspirational people around me, for having friends who are more like family, for having my school friends still as my best friends and for having a super supportive partner. Rest of what I get in life is what I consciously create with effort and planning (and probably a little bit of magical star dust 😉).

The debate can go forever – do you really get what’s only in your destiny or can you create a path for yourself?

Well, good LUCK figuring that out !