I was reading on the bench in Union Square when the camera crew asked me to move over.
They were shooting a scene from a movie. Trying to capture that all too cliché moment of a guy bumping into a girl and they lock eyes for a second before continuing in their respective paths. They would meet again, of course, as the story would continue.
Some people believe in destiny. That certain events are destined to happen to certain people. But from a psychological perspective, the myth of destiny is nothing more than the predictive story of personality.
That is, our personality traits that dictate a consistent pattern of behavior in response to the situations we face. These situations can be as simple as the decision to drive (or not to drive) across the street before the turn of the red light, to the more complex like the pursuit of a risky but potentially highly rewarding career versus one that is conventional but stable with a minimum guarantee.
Traits dictate the relationships we involve ourselves in, the events we decide to go to, the lifestyle we want to lead, the person we want to be, and when we are faced with a life changing decision before us, not only the path we ultimately choose, but the people, situations, baggage, and rewards that come with that choice, which then continue to impact us as we live and develop and change.
The director made the two do the scene over again for the third time. He wanted a perfect moment, a moment of change that happened, but could have not happened. That changed everything, but almost didn't.
Three years ago, I submitted my summer school application for London on a whim (two weeks after the deadline), hoping that the school would be kind enough to let me by. I ended up going. My last day there, a French boy asked me to go on a bus tour with him around London. And 12 hours later, we began a three year long distance relationship. That was the moment of change that happened, but could have easily not happened. That changed everything, but almost didn't.
Today, as much as I want to believe that it was destiny that brought us together. I know that it was our personalities that led us here. The lens through which we saw the situation. Our temperament that moderated our actions. That gut instinct inside us that told us yes, it feels right. And our decision to listen to it.
Everyday, personality influences us to make decisions that shape the course of our fate ahead. Some we will look back on and realize they had changed us, others we may never ever discover.
There's no right or wrong path in life, merely different consequences that come with each. So we can be sure that as long as we stay true to ourselves, we will end up somewhere where we will, at least happily, belong.