I’ve been triggered recently by a few close friends telling me how lucky I am now I have a boyfriend and some company through lockdown 2.0 and it’s really got me thinking about how overused and offensive the phrase ‘You’re so lucky!’ is. The Oxford dictionary definition of luck is ‘success or failure brought about by chance rather than through one’s own actions.’. Insinuating that a man just fell out of the sky and into my lap, into my house. Into my bed. And along with him, my well paid job, my car, my mortgage, my weight gain, my 3 months off on furlough this year. The list of things I’ve been told I’m lucky to have, lucky to have gotten, are endless.
If we think about all the things we have achieved in our lives, the number of them that are down to luck is zero. Unless I have any lottery winners reading, although even then, you actually had to buy the ticket, enter the draw, pick your numbers. Yes, you got lucky that your numbers came up, but everything else was down to you, you’ve more chance of winning than I, the woman who just daydreams about how to spend the money but never buys a ticket.
Everything that’s happened to me thus far has been down to me, how hard I’ve worked, what I’ve decided to do, where I’ve decided to live, what I’ve decided to prioritise. I have a fantastic job, great pay and I love it. I’ve sacrificed so many things to have that job, a family, countless exes that wanted a family. Time, christmases spent with people, nights outs, weekends away. The list is endless.
Even the bad things that have happened haven’t been down to ‘bad luck’ they’ve been down to poor choices. Wrong choices. Mistakes. No luck involved at all, I am the make of my own destiny, as are we all. For some reason, we seem to think that relationships are exempt from this common sense approach though. Whilst we probably wouldn’t go up to the person driving the brand new Lamborghini and say ‘wow, you’re so lucky’, we have zero problems telling someone that’s met someone on a dating app, in a bar, on the tube, walking their dog ‘god, you’re so lucky, that never happens to me.’
As with most things, the image we present to the world is only skin deep. Just as people won’t know about the years I spent living on a tenner a week because everything else was spent on my mortgage, no one will ever know the details of a person’s relationship. They will see what it presented to them, and also what they want to see. Blissful happiness, dinners, drinks, cuddly movie nights. They won’t see the hours of sleepless nights, the arguments over money, the little irritating day to dayness of cohabiting with someone. But still they claim you’re lucky.
This year has been particularly bad for comparing lives. Wishing I could have spent lockdown with a loving partner instead of alone. Wishing I had time away from homeschooling my kids. Wishing I wasn’t with an abusive partner and instead lived with my mum. Nearly everyone thought someone else had it better. So lucky to work from home. So lucky to have time off furloughed and the government pay your wages. So lucky to keep going to work every day. Comparison has always been the thief of joy, but this year it’s been the Bonnie and Clyde of it.
The other issue with comparison is that it fosters jealousy. If we are forever comparing ourselves to others, we aren’t really happy for them, we are jealous of them. Jealousy can be so unhealthy, and overriding. If we stop comparing, we stop those feelings. There’s nothing wrong with striving for something, but want things because YOU want them, not because Jane the next door neighbour has them.
I said to my boyfriend only this weekend that I felt lucky. And I do feel lucky. Lucky to have company in lockdown when I spent the first one alone. Lucky that after a few months of getting to know each other we can choose to move in together. Yes it will be hard work, yes there will be arguments, fights, fallouts, days where I wish I could have some alone time, but if I think about what I could be doing instead then I do feel fortunate. Maybe that’s the better word. Fortunate.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, badly admittedly, is that we need to normalise appreciating the work people put into things and stop making it about luck. I didn’t feel lucky on dating apps for years and years, but I did it, and then I met someone. I didn’t expect a partner to land in my lap putting zero effort in, just as I don’t expect a pay rise and bonus after a mediocre performance this year. Because it’s the same thing, people in love aren’t lucky, the men I’ve chosen to love in my life would have been rejected by many. The people who’ve chosen to love me have put up with my bullshit when many others would have walked away. There’s nothing ‘lucky’ about it. It takes hard work and commitment.
I don’t know where I’ll be in a years time, but one thing is for sure, wherever I am, I haven’t gotten there because of luck.