Here’s a little secret: I’m a control freak. Yes, the lady that runs a blog daily is a control freak. Imagine that! And if you’re a control freak, you’ll know how hard it is to rein in the crazy. Which is why I take a lot of comfort from the following quote from Reinhold Niebuhr:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Because even though this little mantra has been adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous, I think it still rings true for everyone. A huge part of life is knowing when you need to give a little more and when you have done all you can.
My problem? It’s with that little, last line. “And the wisdom to know the difference.” Because how do you know? How do I know that it wasn’t me, or that it wasn’t meant to be? What if I deserve the blame but refuse to put it on myself? What if I did what I could but it wasn’t one of those things I could change? What if it was and I didn’t try hard enough?
I mean, think about it. When you took a test in school and you studied your butt off, but you still didn’t get a good grade, what did you tell yourself? Did you get angry and ask why you didn’t study more? Or did you say that there was no way that you could have studied for that test because it was hard? The age-old debate reformed: Was it nature or nurture?
And in reality, it was probably a combination of the two. But if you are anything like me, you are going to spend the next twenty years thinking that it was you…or that it was the test…or perhaps it was you…
So, that quote is really understated. You better pray for that wisdom to know the difference. Forget the courage or the serenity. You are going to need all of the intelligence you can get. Because that’s what is going to help you sleep at night.
But I guess in the end you simply have to do the absolute best that you can and then when you have wrung every drop from yourself and you still didn’t get what you want or it still didn’t work out, then you can ask the universe why it insists on being ridiculous.
And if that doesn’t work, you can do what I do: worry your life away about things you can’t change while being too paralyzed to do anything about the things you can. In reality, if you live this way for long enough, you really won’t know the difference.