Missed Opportunity

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I believe in the universe. I mean obviously it exists, but I believe not just in it’s physical presence but it’s spiritual one. I don’t mean that to sound so abstract and nonsensical, but I have a deep affinity for the belief that as long as you actively try in life, there is no win or lose, pass or fail, and dare I say, right or wrong. My past is littered with experience, both positive and negative, and while there are times where darkness has threatened to consume my existence, I have tried to live by the simple ethos that once something has passed, it no longer has power over you.

You are welcome to disagree with me, even I do sometimes, but it is something I try to embody as I live my life. For the most part I am happy with who I am, with the beliefs that I hold, and the life I live. There are aspects of my life that are not easy, but each individual has their own set of challenges to face. As long as we keep trying, then however many set backs we experience, we can always say we are moving forwards. For the negative aspects of our past to have power, we have to give an experience meaning, so we can ultimately take back power from experience by recognising it for what it was and forgiving ourselves for the pain we allowed the experience to inflict upon us.

Good or bad, once an experience has occurred, it becomes a part of us, an intrinsic piece of an infinite puzzle. Some of us can get stuck on a particular piece of that puzzle, they may not be able to see past it for some time, but as time progresses, so does the way we see things, and eventually, we realise that it doesn’t matter where that piece of the puzzle goes, because it’s ultimately just another piece that leads to the bigger picture that exists in the present. We are who we are because each puzzle piece has been added, good or bad, right or wrong, when we keep adding to the picture, the picture becomes clearer. We just have to remember to step back and look at the whole picture, not just the puzzle piece you are stuck on.

There are many aspects of my life that have led me to deep introspective assessment of the choices I’ve made so far. After all, life is a series of choices, one leading to another, leading to another, leading to another. Once you’ve made a choice, it becomes a fixed point in your individual story, a piece in your own puzzle. In some cases we have the opportunity to change our minds, to make mistakes and try again. In others opportunity comes once and regardless of the choice made or the outcome of those choices, the opportunity is gone.

What I find most interesting about opportunity, is that sometimes you don’t realise it was there until after it has passed, and it is only once it’s gone that you reflect on what that may then have led to. For every choice we make, there are a number of alternate choices or outcomes that could have been made, but going with the decisions we made at the time, we often don’t see the things we didn’t do as missed or lost opportunities.

At the tail end of last year, I felt decisive. I had spent the better part of five years studying among other things, with the intention of applying to university. I picked a range of Higher level subjects that I should have attained in high school and threw myself into them. After a while I got the hang of studying and it changed my world. I still had the main goal of university in the back of my mind, as I didn’t really have any belief in my worth as a person without a degree, but the closer I got to being ready to apply to university, the more I realised I wasn’t ready to apply.

The reason was because by studying, by trying new things, talking to new people and having new experiences I had become a different person, with different goals and aspirations. For a while that threw me, as I had had such a firm plan of action in my mind that when I realised I no longer wanted it, I didn’t know what I wanted. I was ready for a change, but I had nothing to change, so I did what I always do, I waited. I kept doing new things,  as well as doing a number of the things I was already doing as well. I kept learning and I kept growing, and soon an opportunity presented itself, a job I’d wanted for a long time became available.

I applied, still with the notion that without a degree I was wasting my time, so when I was successful in achieving that job, I was filled with a sense of power. With hard work, commitment and experience I achieved exactly what I had been working towards, the goal I had set for myself was unnecessary, but if I hadn’t had that goal, I wouldn’t have pushed myself to develop in the way that I did. Without meaning to, I’d grown and become knowledgable enough to not only have an opinion but to stand behind it. I realised that opportunity doesn’t always come to you, that hard work and patience isn’t the only way of creating opportunity. Sometimes, opportunity has to be created by you.

This realisation was a profound awakening, as I realised that there were many times in my life where opportunity while not inherently present, could have been if I had had the awareness to create it. This notion burned within me, and I thought of all the things I wish I had done but for one reason or another, did not do. Among all other things, I settled on one experience.

In my fifth year of high school, in maths class, I sat next to someone. For nine months I sat next to this person for 45 minutes each day. Other than pleasantries, and the occasional request for forgotten stationary, I couldn’t have told you anything about this person. I had missed an opportunity to get to know someone, not because I didn’t want to, but because I did.

The reason I was unable to get to know them, was because at the time, I didn’t know who I was. They represented a part of me that I had yet to recognise, the part of me that desired another person. As I hadn’t experienced that connection to a person before I didn’t recognise it for what it was until years after the opportunity to know them was gone. With time, I was able to admit not just what I had felt towards them to myself, but to others as well. Eventually it led me to form my first few relationships, and become happier in and of myself.

But I still held them on a pedestal within myself, not as an object of desire, but as a representation of what it took me almost a decade to understand. Opportunity can be created. Which is why six months ago, I contacted my former high school crush (isn’t social media wonderful) and asked them to have coffee with me. I didn’t expect a reply, I just wanted to say I had tried; that we then met up and had coffee and a fantastic conversation was a wonderful bonus.

I had coffee with them again today, and again I was treated to a conversation I would otherwise have never had, had I not recognised that we create our own experiences by being decisive.

We have the power to make our lives whatever we want them to be, as long as we actually want them to be that way.

If I have learned anything it is that the opportunities we miss, aren’t wasted, if they affect us and give us the drive to try harder, even if it is years later, then the missed opportunity was meaningful. Like all experiences it becomes a part of us, and when we are ready to step back and look at the whole picture, we realise that the pieces of the puzzle that you thought were missing, were just meant to be placed somewhere else, at some other time.

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