Growing also means improving, right? Unless you can grow by staying your good old self, which I rather doubt. I personally try to often reflect on my own behavior and habits.
One of the things I noticed is that I’m oftenranting. Part of it is I believe, deeply cultural. I’m French and French people like to complain about anything and everything really. It can vary from unleashing a few “i’m so tired” every single morning to a ranting level that could easily lead to another French revolution. I too, like to complain about things on a daily basis. Small things, bigger things.
Complaining is human, we all do it. But complaining is deeply negative, especially if you do it a lot. For sure there are some aspects you can feel unhappy about, and you are allowed to express your feeling of discontentment. Some days are harder than others, life is a mix of ups and downs. The trick is not to fall into a perpetual circle of discontentment. Negativity brings negativity.
As I became more and more aware of my tendency to complain a lot, I really tried to make a change. One thing I’m trying to set as a routine, is to practice being grateful instead.
It seems to be rather an easy thing to do right? In practice it’s not that easy. In our lives we tend to focus harder on the negative things, than on the positive ones. As an example, when someone asks us how our day is going, we tend to highlight negative events first.
“My colleague annoyed me”, “my boss sent me extra work”, “I’ve missed my train and had to wait 30 minutes at the station” are common answers. How many of us would answer “I’ve helped the neighbor take the trash down and it made her happy”, “my lunch was extra delicious today”, “I’ve met an old friend and it was nice catching up on things”. Ranting is easy, it comes naturally.
To help practicing daily gratitude I chose to include this routine in my daily yoga one. I decided to choose to select and reflect on one daily thing I am grateful for doing Shavasana (yoga asana, usually closing the practice). It does not have to be something huge, it can be about anything. Usually I don’t”t even have to think about it, there is one thing naturally popping up in my head. For example, some days I’m grateful for my dog not being sick, for a phone call I had with my mom who lives far away or for a great time with friends. It helps me acknowledge the small, beautiful, ordinary daily things.
It’s quite easy to find and point out the things that aren’t so great, it’s harder to acknowledge the things that are. Some things are taken for granted: our health, well-being, the health of our loved ones. We take such things for granted until they go wrong. Everyday, I’m trying to be grateful for the things I do have, instead of whining about the things I can’t change. There will always be things to rant about, there will be unfortunate events, missed trains, failed interviews, heartbreaks. It’s part of life. If everything was beautiful and easy, in the end we would complain about it as well.
You can choose your own way to practice gratitude: have a personal diary, make it a daily or a weekly routine, do it through random acts of kindness… whatever works better for you. Hopefully it will help you keep things in perspective and be more positive.
If you already do practice gratitude, I would be interested to know more about it. Leave me a comment to let me know what your daily routine is and how beneficial it is for you.
I’ve decided to write about a topic I am really fond of: expatriation. This will be my first article written in English, on purpose. I believe more people will be able to read it, and hopefully relate. As English is not my native language, I hereby apologize for the (many) mistakes I will be doing.
As far as I can remember I’ve always seeked to have an expat life. As a child I had decided to move to Brazil when I would be older. I fell in love with Brazil when I was around 12, funnily enough, because of football. My grandpa was a football fan, I watched all the games with him and Brazil was my favorite team. Since then I never changed my mind: I’d be living abroad. While nobody took the 12 yo me seriously, my relatives had no other choice than accepting it over time. When I was 20, I did an Erasmus in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and lived one year in Spain. Not only did I learn to speak Spanish but I also bloomed. It was my first time living outside the borders of France, I caught not only the travel bug but the expat bug. It never left. As soon as I was back to France, I had only one wish: leave again. In Spain I was outside my bubble, far away from everyone I knew and forced to cope. The rather shy child I was, was definitely pushed to its limits and became a confident adult. Not only I met many lifelong friends, but I also shaped my dream: I would be living abroad. Resting assured that I could actually do it, not only dream it.
Chances are, the 12 year old me going through the divorce of her parents just wanted to escape. I often reflected on this to understand if I genuinely wanted to live abroad, or just run away. Truth is there was always more than that. I always felt like a stranger inside my comfort zone. I grew up in a village in the North of France, right at the Swiss-German border. We are quite wealthy there, life is pretty sweet. But life is also quite predictable. Most of the people I know never left the region, probably never will. We can work in Switzerland and earn shitloads of money, a lot of people don’t understand why I flew. I always felt trapped, in a world too big not to be explored. I could never relate to my pairs, nor wish for a life of comfort: a nice job, enough money to buy a big house, a fancy car, get a husband from the village next to mine to have 2 children with. I wanted more.
Early enough I chose to study languages, then later business, as I was assured it would allow me to get a good job abroad. It was not a lie, my studies allowed me to travel to Amsterdam for my Masters Degree 6 month internship. In the end I never left, as I fell in love with both the city and its vibe. It’s true, I never moved to Brazil. I would still like to, but as an adult I adjusted the criterias I find important to select a place to live. Brazil’s political environment does not feel safe enough to me. While I would never have expected to ”end up” in The Netherlands, I’m quite pleased with my move.
For the first time in my life I feel at home. How come will you tell me, if I’m a born and raised 100% french style frenchie? It’s quite simple, I bloom again in a multicultural city where I can meet people from everywhere. I struggle too, everyday, with the language and the culture but not only. But that is exactly what I’m longing for: something different. Busting my comfort bubble repeatedly, everyday. I came to realize this was one of the things I feel proudest about. Somehow I fulfilled my child’s dream: to live abroad and an expatriate. It also turns out I’m not one of a kind but one out of many: a lot of people have the same love for the expat life. It seems that a lot of them can also be found in Amsterdam.
While the expat life brings me a fair amount of joy, it also comes with its struggles. Living abroad is hard, it definitely has its pros and cons and I trust it is an endless process of searching and finding yourself. I chose to embrace it though and I’m learning to be a forever foreigner: stranger in my hometown as I have changed so much since I left, and stranger in my new town as I am not Dutch and never will be. The duality is interesting, life-changing, really heavy to carry on my shoulders sometimes.
I figured I could share both my successes and my struggles, along with my everyday experience of being an expatriate.
The first thing that pops in my head are the reasons why one would decide to leave its native country to live abroad. There are many reasons, I just talked briefly about mine. Some people decide to leave to start from scratch again, others to fly away from their routine and so on. Long story short, I decided to leave because I can’t spend my whole life at the same place. I feel like I had enough time to discover my hometown, along with all the great perks of living and working in France. I long for something else, not necessarily for something more. One could easily compare the pros and cons of living either in France or in The Netherlands.
My goal is not to convince you that life abroad is way better, but to have you understand why it is for me. To be able to strive and feel motivated, I have the need to be surrounded by different people, different cultures, different nationalities. I like to discover new Dutch traditions – regardless of how weird they (often) are, I enjoy learning about how people get things done here. I love to try new food, confront my opinion and meet new people in general. Had I stayed in France, I would get less of that, probably not at all as everything is familiar, tried and approved. Evolving in a different environment helps me grow, learn, be open-minded and in the end a better person.
Why The Netherlands?
Moving abroad to another country implies choosing a new country. It can be to seek better work opportunities, a different lifestyle etc. For me it was not motivated by anything, just by an internship opportunity. While living here, I learned to get to know more of the country. While I can’t really say why I moved to Amstedam, I can definitely tell why I stayed.
First of all, The Netherlands is a country of freedom, which ranks pretty high on my list of criteria for choosing a living environment. Not only are they really tolerant with drugs or prostitution, but the Dutch are also really open-minded. They do care about the environment in general. Take the number of windmills, solar energy panels and bikes in the country, it will start giving you an idea of the Dutch lifestyle. As vegetarian or vegan it is no struggle to find suitable (and delicious) food being in restaurants or in your small buurt supermarket. Options are here, nobody makes a big deal out of it. Same thing for gender and sexual-orientation: Dutch people are amongst the most liberal. Here Pride is celebrated as the National Day, and being surrounded by such openness and respect fills me heart with pure love (not to exaggerate, but this is really important to me).
Amsterdam is a liberal city, so beautiful that words can only slightly describe the magic behind the many canals and crooked houses. There hasn’t been one day where, while strolling along the grachts, I haven’t been totally amazed by the beauty of this city. Tiny little pearl of beauty in central Europe, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more wonderful place. On top of that, Amsterdam is a melting pot, so multicultural it becomes hard to distinguish locals from expats or tourists. I work with people from around the world, I have friends from everywhere. I trust that the most important thing when moving abroad is, finding a place that suits you. This according to what is important to you. For me it’s a multicultural and liberal environment, but it can be anything else really.
When I came home from my year in Spain, I couldn’t wait to go abroad again. I thought it would be super easy, because I had already done it. Truth is it wasn’t, and it never is. Moving abroad can be quite stressful as it requires a lot of organization. For example, finding a new place, which can be quite tricky. Amsterdam is probably one of the most difficult cities to find an apartment in, it is overcrowded and really expensive. Since 2016 (the year I arrived in Ams) I moved places 5 times, which is quite average. It wasn’t easy, even if I am used to carry my whole life in a couple suitcases, with time it becomes more and more difficult. Then there are all the other things to think about: insurance, bank, phone number. When I left France I closed account I had there and went full Dutch, it was just easier. Also, I’m not thinking of going back so I have no use of a french bank account for example.
Generally before moving, you’ll have to think it through really hard before taking the decision. This includes having the necessary financial resources or career opportunities. If you’re moving with your partner or children you’ll have to take this into consideration for them as well. I deliberately chose not to go on about this, as 1) i’m not concerned by it, 2) i’m not interested in it.
The diferent stages of expatriation
According to the theory of Black et Mendenhall (1990) there are 4 different stages of expatriation.
The honeymoon phase: This is the time when everything is new, surprising. You are amazed by your new environment, you barely know the culture and are getting hints of it. In that phase you usually only see the pros of your move, you are still dreaming about your new life.
The crisis: That’s the time when the culture shock hits you, fully, without warning. You feel disoriented, lost. Everything seems strange, different. Congratulations you’re out of your comfort zone. Hang in there, you’ll have doubts, you’ll be anxious, you’ll have days when you’ll feel you’ll never be able to adapt. Don’t let it ruin your mood.
The adaptation: You’ll simply get used to the culture, understand its codes and start adapting. You’ll slowly modify your own behavior to blend in. You’ll open up to your new destination.
The maturity: The adaptation period can last longer depending on the individual. When feeling at ease in the new country, the expat can be really happy abroad, confident about his move.
For me it’s always been a bit different. I remember the time right before flying to Amsterdam for my internship, I was superstressed, and quite anxious. It is one thing to think about your move, it’s another one to do it. That’s the moment when your comfort zone has to be left behind, it’s rarely easy. In general I need a couple days for acclimatation. The first days in Amsterdam were complicated, I felt lost about everything from finding my way to the closest bakery to opening a bank account. Usually I start feeling at ease when I meet people, I figured that it makes it all super easier. You feel better, you get help and you start building a new life. Friends are everything, so my advice for you is to make friends as soon as possible when moving abroad.
I don’t think I ever went through a full crisis mode, small cultural shocks hit me occasionally but they never overwhelm me. This is probably due to the fact that the Dutch culture is not too far from mine, and that Dutch people are really open-minded. One thing I’d recommend anyone who is moving abroad, would be to take it easy and to give yourself time to adapt. Don’t run away when things are complicated, don’t quit as soon as there is an obstacle (I tend to, and it’s not a great idea).
Expat life: things to consider (the cons)
Leaving everyone behind: it’s a harsh truth and fact, you’ll have to say goodbye to all your relatives: family, friends, everyone else. Depending on where you’re moving to, you’ll be rather far away from everyone you love and probably grew up with. This is without any doubt the hardest thing in an expat life, so you better be ready for it. Not only you’ll put distance between yourself and your loved ones, but you’ll also miss a couple important things. You probably won’t be able to attend all the important events: birthdays, births, bachelor parties, weddings, to only name a few. You’ll miss out on seeing your cousins grow, you’ll miss out on precious time with your aging grandparents too.
You’ll have to make compromises, to go home regularly but still have time off for yourself. If you chose to go on a different timezone, you’ll also have to deal with that, handle the time difference, long distance calls, flights and jet lag. You’ll miss your relatives, it will be hard, really, really, really hard. You’ll miss them on bright days, and even more on dark ones. Especially on dark ones. You’ll want only one thing: your loved ones, for support, and you won’t get it. Be prepared for that too. I left France when my mom had cancer. I had to complete my internship in order to be able to graduate. I missed her surgery, I was not there for the chemo, I am still in the process of forgiving myself for it. So here’s one other great advice: try not to blame yourself too much. As an expat, you might feel like an egoist for putting your life choices prior to everything else. Don”t, and focus on being present as much as possible. Find a balance, don’t beat yourself up. In the end your expatriation is a choice, and this is one con you will have to accept and live with. It will never stop being a struggle, you just have to learn to live with it.
The Hellos and Goodbyes: Chances are as an expat you’ll meet tons of new people, including other expats. Relationships are more of less easy to build, especially abroad. The good thing is that you’ll make a lot of new friends, create a new circle. The bad thing? A lot of them will leave. Being to themselves move abroad or go back home. Since I moved to Amsterdam, I must have had my heart broken a thousand times, saying goodbye to people who happened to become really close to me, over a short period of time. In Amsterdam there are a lot of expats, people staying for a couple years or months only: for work, internships, missions abroad. Be prepared for that: with hellos come goodbyes, at a certain point, inevitably. You’ll have to learn to let go and to deal with it. In the end it’s a good life lesson: nothing lasts forever, it does not mean we can’t enjoy it while it lasts.
Being a forever stranger: When I’m in France, I feel like a foreigner. Strange huh? I believe only expatriates can understand the feeling but I’ll try to explain. Since I moved things changed but mostly, I changed. I am not the same person I was when I left. I find myself confused, addressing people in English in stores, surprised (and slightly pleased) when they reply in French. I find myself looking around feeling uncomfortable in places that used to be familiar. I have no clue what TV show is trendy, which new french song plays on radio. I missed over 3 years of “french culture”, and I definitely miss the newest references.
When I’m in Amsterdam, I feel at home but I also feel like a stranger. I don’t speak Dutch, so there’s that. There’s not one day I don’t have to apologize for it, and gently ask people to address me in English. That makes me definitely stand out, not in a positive way. While Dutch are amongst the most liberal, especially in a big city like Amsterdam, let’s say that this is less the case in rural areas. I don’t want to speak badly of them, because I love Dutch people. It’s like anywhere else, you have some idiots. Here, some people can be really racist, especially towards expats. In a certain way, I can understand it. Amsterdam is suffocating with tourists and expats, and Ducth people might feel like we take over their houses, jobs and opportunities. However, I’m always trying not to be the stupid expat cliché, I’m respectful, I pay my taxes, I play my part so somehow I also expect not be assulated with unjustified racism. It’s not always the case, I had many people tell me to “go back to my country’ including Dutch police officers. Not cool. I guess you have to get ready for that, when you are not a local some might underlign it to make you feel not welcome. I’ll be forever a Frenchie, no matter how long I’ve been abroad. I am French, I will never stop being French, and that’s okay. I don’t think I have to choose and I accept what is both a blessing and a curse. This is the lifestyle I chose, I’m okay with having bits of myself in different countries.
The things you miss: By that I mean all the things you’ll be missing from your native country. As a French, it’s not difficult to imagine mine: wine, cheese and bread. Mostly bread. But you’d have to be French to understand the physical pain of lacking a fresh and crusty baguette just coming out of the oven. I don’t watch TV (don’t even own one) but sometimes I miss just watching french movies, series, commercials. I can always stream, but I guess it’s not the same. I sometimes miss everything being “easier”, as in when I have any issue here, I have to add the language barrier to the equation. Yes, everything from administrative stuff to the most common event would be easier for me in France. Apart from that I miss being there for cultural events, I guess I just traded it for Dutch events.
Staying/Moving: the endless question: Discussing with other expats, I realized this is a common struggle: choosing to stay or to go. I feel like it comes with the expatriation bug, this need to always question your current location and future move. Since I moved to Amsterdam I felt like going home multiple times, especially when things are difficult or when they go wrong. The first thing you can be tempted to say is: “fuck it, i’m leaving”. In such times, going back to your country can be tempting. Why? Because it’s a way to fly away from your struggles. But wait… Is it really? I came to the conclusion that it is not. Then, you’ll simply have moments when you’ll miss your relatives, you’ll question your move and yourself in general. Should I stay? Should I go? Also, if I go, should I go home or move to another place?
The expatriate can be torn between the nice feeling of having adapted to a new place, and the endless desire to start over once again. Once you move, you’ll want to move again. It only depends on you to do so. I think the questioning is not only normal, it’s also essential. Don’t stress it, let go. Don’t rush a decision, I came to understand that the right choice will come along as the best decision. You’ll just know it. I moved to Utrecht for 6 months after a harsh breakup. I wanted new opportunities, without leaving The Netherlands. I hated it over there, but it taught me so much: first that moving wasn’t resolving my inner struggles, then it also comforted me in my decision to want to go back and stay in Amsterdam for a long time. I deeply missed the city I now belong to, I’ve found myself in Amsterdam and I am not ready to let it go. I want to be forever home here. At least that’s how I feel now. I’m certain that a new questioning cycle will come, and maybe I’ll change my mind, maybe one day I’ll leave. I stay open to that, I stay aware of my needs and wants, ready to adapt.
Expat life: the pros
Of course the expat life has also tons of perks, depending on the reasons why you moved and also the things you were seeking. In this part I’ll expose mine.
Personal accomplishment: For me living abroad is part of my personal happiness and accomplishment. I couldn’t feel accomplished hadn’t I moved, at least I don’t think so. I talked about a few reasons already, but here’s another one: I’m by nature a loner. I like to be alone, and apparently I also like to live my life by myself. Maybe putting some distance between myself and everyone else was also a decision motivated by this. Don’t get me wrong, I deeply miss my relatives but somehow I am also glad I am away, because it is who I am. I need this for myself. I mentioned earlier all the reasons that make me love my life abroad from the multicultural environment to the liberal aspect of my new country. It is all part of who I became and who I now am.
Languages booster: Living abroad will help you learn a practice at least one new language, probably more. If you are not as lazy as I am, you’ll soon learn the language of the country you move to. There’s nothing better than full immersion to be able to master a foreign language. It’s a bit different here in Amsterdam because everyone speaks English. Dutch is not per se required to be able to live here. It’s always better to speak the local language, also appreciated by local people. I have to admit that Dutch is not a very appealing language to me, but I’m starting to think that I will have to make an effort. Living abroad made me entirely fluent in English. Even though I’m making a lot of mistakes, I easily work in English, switch from French to English and feel completely comfortable speaking English. Funny thing, my sister calls me Van Dammette (aka JC Van Damme), because I often speak Frenglish, I mix both languages all the time.
Homecomings: Going home is like any other vacation, but better. It is an event every time: the excitation of seeing your friends and family again, to be in your hometown. It is quality time, and since it does not happen often, you’ll make the most of it everytime. People will make time for you, you’ll make time for them. You’ll be able to enjoy familiar things for a short will: comfortable environment, comfort food. For a lot of expats it is also a time for relaxing or reconnecting. When I go home I like to go back to my former “usual” spots, for shopping or just chilling. Familiar feels good, even if I ran away from it. Of course, usually I also eat a lot of the things I miss. Most of them come from Switzerland, not only from France. My absolute missed products are: french baguette & cheese, Tzopf ( buttered brioche from Switzerland) & Zweifel chips (paprika swiss chips).
Visits: Once you live abroad, everyone will visit you: family, close or remote friends. I really enjoy this, it’s a vacation every time. I am enjoying making people discover my new city, introducing them to my current life. I became an expert of strolling the streets of Amsterdam, and I’m able to give you the best local tips. The visits will allow you to bring a bit of your past life into your new one and to also enjoy quality time with the people you are fond of. Also, keep in mind that your loved ones will often bring a suitcase full of things you miss with them (you’ll recognize yourselves, I LOVE you!).
Perks of the destination: Once you live somewhere else, you’ll be able to fully enjoy everything there is to see and do there. You’ll be able to become a local and to enjoy all the perks of the destination. For me, Amsterdam is a perfect compromise between city life and chill-out. The city is not too big, so the atmosphere is still very quiet (at least outside the main touristic areas). Commuting is really enjoyable as most of us cycle to work (and everywhere else). No need to own a car nor to spend hours in traffic. The life is Amsterdam is vibrant, there are lots of things to do all year round: cultural, musical, sports events, festivals, concerts, markets etc. The city is also full of lovely venues: cafes, restaurants, bars, clubs, theaters, cinemas, libraries… it can literally please everyone.
Finally, for me Amsterdam is awesome because weed is legal here. I can easily swing by local coffeeshops to buy my stuff, stress and hassle-free, whenever I want. I used to live next to a coffeeshop, I’d pop by on Sunday mornings in my pajamas after buying my breakfast. Now it’s not the case anymore, but I have one next to my work place, so I usually go there to smoke a joint with my colleagues. Nobody makes a big deal out of it, grandpas are sitting there next to young people. Freedom: much appreciated, thank you! An example for France.
Job opportunities: Maybe that’s not the case for every destination but it is definitely the case for me. In Amsterdam there are lots of job opportunities. There are lots of international companies in The Netherlands that are willing to employ people from all over the world. The job market (unlike in France) is not saturated, you can actually find a job quite easily if you do speak English. Hadn’t I moved here, I would never have been able to work for multinationals and build a strong professional background. I was employed in different international companies leader of their industries. As I chose to work in Tourism, I was very pleased to start my career with Booking.com and now Expedia. I’m quite assured to always find a job in the sector with names like that on my resume. Where I come from the major industries are banking and pharma, it does not interest me at all.
Friends everywhere: When moving abroad, you’ll make new friends and, as I explained earlier, people are everything. If like me you move to a melting-pot city, you’ll not only make local friends, but friends from everywhere. Even if they go back home at some point, you’ll be able to visit them around the globe. Pretty cool isn’t it? I met most of my friends at the workplace, I’m used to meet daily with people from Spain, Italy, New Zealand, Japan, Brazil… Conversations are rich, insightful. You’ll learn about their cultures, traditions and ways of living. Also, you’ll be invited to dinners where you’ll try delish exotic food. Win win? Definitely!
For me, being an expat is a second nature. I genuinely don’t think I’ll ever move back to France. It does not mean that I do not love my country. I am proud to be French, proud of my culture and my heritage. But I long for more and my heart will always wander someplace else. Then again, I’ve always felt that way, because that is part of who I am. You might not feel the same way or you have ultimate blockers, that’s alright. I would say that, to be able to be an expatriate you’ll need at least a few things:
flexibility/adaptability: you’ll need to be able to accept change, and to enjoy it. If you like to keep things as they are, I’d not recommend expatriation.
An open mind: you’ll face things you don’t like and you don’t understand. Without an open mind the culture shock might kill you.
Basic language skills: especially if like me you are French (and not given by nature the gift of speaking easily other languages). Just know that with an average level of English, you’ll be able to have yourself understood pretty much everywhere.
To finish, I wanted to mention that if you are having doubtsor questions about a potential move, feel free to reach out to me. Also if you don’t agree with me, let’s talk about it! I’d love to hear about you and your experience.
“you said. if it is meant to be. fate will bring us back together. for a second, I wonder if you are really that naive. if you really believe fate works like that. as if it lives in the sky staring down at us. as if it has five fingers and spends its time placing us like pieces of chess. as if it is not the choices we make. who taught you that. tell me. who convinced you. you’ve been given a heart and a mind that isn’t yours to use. that your actions do not define what will become of you. I want to scream and shout it’s us you fool. we’re the only ones that can bring us back together. but instead I sit quietly. smiling softly through quivering lips thinking. isn’t it such a tragic thing. when you can see it so clearly, but the other person doesn’t.”
Rupi Kaur, Milk and Honey
J’ai passé la plus grande partie de ma vie à vouloir croire au destin. Sensible aux choses et aux personnes qui m’entourent, je me considère douée pour l’analyse consciente et inconsciente des éléments de mon quotidien. Ce n’est que très récemment que je me suis penchée sur la notion de destin, assez centrale dans ma vie. J’ai commencé à remettre en question mes propres croyances pour me poser les questions suivantes : y’a-t-il un destin tout court ? Pourquoi croire au destin ?
Je me suis plu à croire que certaines choses doivent être laissées au destin, et non contrôlées. Ayant tendance à trop analyser chaque situation et événement, il est certainement plus facile pour moi de placer le sort de certaines choses dans les mains d’une force supérieure. Cela me permet-il de me détacher de ma propre responsabilité et d’éviter de devoir faire des choix concrets ? Probablement. C’est de là qu’est née ma réflexion : y’a-t-il un destin ? Ou au contraire, tout est-il le fruit du hasard ? Est-il trop naïf de vouloir croire au destin comme l’évoque Rupi Kaur dans son recueil Milk and Honey ?
J’aime partir de ma propre réflexion et de mes propres expériences pour les remettre en question et les confronter à d’autres pensées. En consultant des œuvres sur le sujet je me suis vite rendue compte que ma réflexion est autant philosophique que théologique. Elle soulève des notions étroitement liées au destin : le sort, le hasard, la causalité, la liberté, le libre arbitre et la responsabilité.
Entre théologie et philosophie, qu’appelle-t’on destin ?
Le destin serait une sorte de force ou d’instance supérieure, ayant le pouvoir d’impacter le futur d’une personne, indépendamment de sa volonté ou de ses actions. De ce fait, il serait très difficile voire impossible pour l’homme d’échapper à son destin. Le destin est une notion importante chez l’être humain, le concept nous intrigue, il nous fait réfléchir, car il est en rapport direct avec le sens de notre existence.
Il n’est pas étonnant que la question relève dans un premier temps de la théologie : le destin est une notion essentielle dans plusieurs religions. Le catholicisme et le judaïsme réfutent l’idée du destin, elles considèrent que l’humain est libre et responsable de ses actes. Seul Dieu est considéré comme une force omnipotente. En revanche, le destin est l’un des six postulats de la foi islamique, donc essentiel dans la religion musulmane. On peut effectuer dans le bouddhisme une corrélation entre destin et karma. Le bouddhisme considère l’homme comme le fruit de ses actes passés (karma) mais responsable de ses actes présents.
La notion de destin relève également de la philosophie. Elle a été abordée par différents philosophes au cours des siècles. Destin ou Fatum, a été décrit à la fois comme une force aveugle et une puissance intelligente. Le destin se différencie du hasard, dont les éléments sont toujours incertains, et de la fortune qui forme des plans et des desseins avec une volonté sans discernement. La fortune agit en aveugle. Le destin se différencie également du sort, à qui l’on attribue une détermination cachée qui laisse dans le doute, jusqu’au moment où il se manifeste. Selon Pierre-Claude François Daunou, le destin forme des desseins, des ordres, des enchaînements de causes. On lui attribue la connaissance, la volonté et le pouvoir. Ses vues sont fixes et déterminées.
Alexander Lowen différencie plus particulièrement le sort et le destin. Tandis que le sort est en rapport avec ce que l’on est, le destin est lié à ce que l’on devient. Ainsi, le sort peut faire que l’on naît avec un genre, des caractéristiques et des traits particuliers, mais encore des points forts et des vulnérabilités, indépendamment de notre volonté. Ces caractéristiques vont être plus ou moins déterminants dans notre vie, et influencer d’une certaine manière notre futur. Le sort est plutôt lié aux opportunités présentées à nous, tandis que le destin se manifeste au travers de nos décisions. Il va sans dire que les deux notions sont en lien étroit avec la responsabilité.
Pourquoi choisissons-nous de croire au destin ?
“Laisser faire le destin”
On a tendance à utiliser l’expression “laisser faire le destin”. On vous l’a peut-être déjà conseillé, tant dans la vie professionnelle que privée. Par “laisser faire”, on retrouve l’idée d’abandon de son sort a une force supérieure. On met sa destinée dans les mains d’une entité plus grande qui décidera pour nous. Est-il suffisant de remettre des choses qui ont beaucoup d’importance pour nous dans les mains d’un destin supposé omnipotent ? Pourquoi choisissons-nous de croire à un destin qui pourrait guider le cours de nos vies ? Si je me penche sur les raisons, j’en trouve plusieurs.
Tout d’abord un besoin de se rassurer et de trouver une explication, un sens à des événements que l’on ne contrôle pas. Penser que tout est le fruit du destin, qui agit à la fois comme force omnipotente et bienveillante, il est plus facile d’accepter et de surmonter des difficultés. Je pense qu’il en va de même avec les religions. Elles peuvent fournir une explication et aider certains d’entre nous à trouver un sens aux événements du quotidien, pour éviter de sombrer dans l’inconnu. En se disant que tout est écrit à l’avance, cela nous permet aussi de penser que tout se passera bien, et de nous sentir plus en sécurité. Un comportement propre à l’humain, qui a tendance à vouloir tout expliquer.
Il peut s’agir également d’une volonté plus ou moins consciente de perdre le contrôle. Ce que je confie aux mains du destin n’est plus de mon ressort, je me détache de toute responsabilité. C’est plus facile pour moi, moins pesant. Cela m’amène à la raison suivante, cela peut nous éviter de faire des choix tout en sachant que ceux-ci peuvent se révéler décisifs pour notre futur. On se place en victime plutôt qu’en maître de sa vie.
Personnellement, j’ai pu me complaire à penser que le destin pouvait avoir un rôle important à jouer dans ma vie amoureuse. Quand il s’agit d’une relation amoureuse, il est par exemple facile de se dire “ c’est écrit quelque part, il me suffit d’y croire et le destin nous rassemblera’. Ça peut sembler plausible, du moins ça l’a été pour moi. Si on applique le même raisonnement, si on souhaite avoir une carrière professionnelle réussie et gagner beaucoup d’argent, suffit-il de croire au destin et de rester assis bien sagement en attendant que celui-ci fasse son travail ? C’est tout de suite moins crédible. Ainsi, n’est-il pas ridicule de croire au destin tout court ?
J’ai passé les dernières années de ma vie à attendre que le destin me ramène à certaines personnes dont je m’étais éloignée. Croire au destin m’a aidée à avancer tout en me délestant de ma propre responsabilité face à la situation. Parfois on souhaite croire en quelque chose, pas forcément base sur la réalité mais sur nos propres attentes. Utiliser le destin peut être également une façon de remettre le sort de notre scénario idéal entre les mains de quelqu’un d’autre. On peut ainsi plus aisément de placer en victime du sort.
Les “signes” du destin
Si le destin décide pour nous, indépendamment de nos actions, il peut parfois nous envoyer des “signes” pour nous conforter dans notre position d’impuissance. Ces signes sont souvent énigmatiques, rarement des preuves scientifiques. Plus que des signes à proprement parler, il s’agit de projections (de notre inconscient par exemple), que nous choisissons d’interpréter comme tels. Ils servent à nous conforter dans l’idée que tout est écrit d’avance.
A plusieurs reprises, j’ai rêvé que mon premier enfant sera une petite fille. Ce rêve a longtemps été interprété comme une prémonition liée à mon destin. Surgit de mon inconscient, il m’est apparu comme un signe et non pas comme une construction de mon imaginaire, basé sur mes propres attentes. Un signe construit de tout pièce me permettant de croire à un futur tout tracé. De par mes propres expériences, je note qu’il peut être très difficile de remettre en cause ce genre de pensée. Croire au destin est assez personnel, et remettre en question une idée qui a pu guider le cours de notre vie pendant des années est un challenge. Cela remet en question les fondements même de nos propres croyances. C’est à la fois douloureux et libérateur.
La liberté la responsabilité
Le destin est en lien étroit avec la liberté et la responsabilité. Le destin peut nous permettre de trouver un sens à notre vie. Il peut être plus facile de croire au destin que de vivre dans l’incertitude ou au contraire de considérer que tout est le fruit de nos actions et décisions, et non d’autre chose. Renier notre responsabilité est plus facile que d’assumer l’ampleur et la conséquence de nos actes. Beaucoup de philosophes mettent en lien étroit la liberté humaine et le destin. Tacite voit le drame humain comme l’expression d’un dilemme face aux choix que l’on doit faire. Le choix ne laisse que deux possibilités : il est libre ou déterminé.
La liberté ne peut pas s’opposer au destin. Peut-elle alors dépendre du destin ? Tacite l’affirme pour les “non sages”, ceux dont la liberté est restreinte par le destin. Le destin devient alors oppressant, il a le pouvoir de tout dicter à l’homme.
L’homme a la capacité de choisir, et donc d’engager sa propre responsabilité par ses actes mais aussi ses intentions. L’homme peut choisir lucidement entre plusieurs possibilités, celle qui lui semble la plus conforme à sa propre notion du bien. Malheureusement cette capacité de choisir peut aussi devenir un fardeau pesant. Face à la multitude des opportunités, et à la mesure des conséquences, faire un choix peut devenir contraignant, voire effrayant. C’est pourtant le seul moyen dont nous disposons de maîtriser notre futur et notre destin.
Selon A. Michel les passions de l’homme l’empêchent de saisir le véritable sens du destin et des choix proposés à sa liberté. L’homme doit arriver à maîtriser ses passions, qui siègent dans son âme, pour arriver à faire ses propres choix. Les passions peuvent être considérées comme une force aussi grande que le destin, régissant et biaisant parfois le choix des hommes. Certaines personnes perdent leur liberté au profit de leurs passions, qui les rendent prisonnières. Ainsi le destin prend pour elles la figure de leur faiblesse. Pour maîtriser les passions, l’homme doit faire un choix, et engager sa propre responsabilité.
Y’a-t-il un destin ?
Dans certaines situations le pouvoir du choix rend l’homme hésitant et angoissé. Il m’est arrivé de choisir de placer certains éléments de ma vie entre les mains du destin, car cela me permettait de me décharger de ma propre responsabilité. Cela ne m’a pas permis de me décharger de ma responsabilité sur le long terme. Mais surtout, cela me permettait de mieux gérer une situation angoissante. J’ai choisi de ne pas faire le deuil d’une relation que je considérais inachevée, et de le justifier par l’existence du destin. J’ai pourtant considéré le fait d’affronter la situation, de m’ouvrir, communiquer sur des non-dits mais aussi partager mes doutes et mes attentes. Il a été plus facile de remettre le sort de cette relation dans les mains du destin en me disant que celui-ci finirait par faire son travail.
J’ai en fait vécu dans le mensonge et dans le déni, en n’acceptant ni la réalité telle qu’elle était, ni mon implication dans les événements passés et futurs. Non seulement cela ne m’a rien apporté, mais cela m’a aussi causé du tort.
Le Fatum décrit par Tacite est une force cosmique qui peut influencer le déroulement de nos vies tout en laissant assez de liberté aux hommes pour les rendre responsables des choses qui leur arrivent. Le destin en tant que force supérieure régissant nos vies n’existe pas. Notre destin dépend de nous, de la façon dont nous agissons au sort.
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Il est propre à chacun de prendre ses propres décisions et de créer son propre destin. L’humain a tendance à prendre trop ou trop peu de responsabilité face aux choses qui arrivent, car il a du mal à les gérer, à accepter le changement. Certaines choses sont indépendantes de notre volonté, mais nous gardons le choix de la façon dont nous réagissons. Prendre trop peu de responsabilité en érigeant le destin sur un piédestal nous place en victimes passives que nous ne sommes pas.
Le destin peut être une manière d’écarter sa propre responsabilité ou de vivre dans le déni. Cependant la capacité à raisonner et à choisir est la marque existentielle de l’homme. La liberté de l’homme réside dans sa possibilité à choisir et réaliser sa personnalité volontairement, au travers des événements du monde. Il est peut-être plus facile, mais trop simple de choisir de mettre sa vie entre les mains de n’importe qui d’autre que soi-même, en subissant un destin aveugle.
Si certains éléments de nos vies peuvent être déterminés par le sort, le destin ne peut être considéré comme une force toute puissante. Il n’existe donc pas de “destin tout puissant” à proprement parler. Seul l’homme, en engageant sa responsabilité au travers de ses choix, peut influencer le cours de sa propre vie. Pour vivre l’instant présent, il faut accepter les conséquences et les impacts de nos choix passés. Il faut accepter que certaines choses soient indépendantes de notre volonté. Aussi, seule notre implication peut servir à construire notre futur. Seuls nous-mêmes pouvons assumer la conséquence de nos actions, de nos intentions, et accepter les choses que nous ne pouvons plus changer.
We are responsible for those choices. Part of each person’s fate includes a personal destiny. But whether that destiny is fulfilled or not depends in part on the person and whether he or she is willing to accept responsibility for and courageously pursue that destiny.
La vision bouddhique me semble très juste. Elle considère l’individu constitué d’éléments sans cesse en mouvement, jamais permanents. Notre présent est à la fois influencé par nos actes passés (notre karma) et tributaire de conditions extérieures. Mais notre existence étant en changement constant, nous gardons la possibilité de réaliser et d’accepter que notre situation actuelle soit le produit de causes multiples. Il nous reste possible d’agir librement en impliquant notre responsabilité pour les conséquences futures que nous créons nous mêmes. Cela peut se résumer à : Je suis le fruit de mes actes passés et je suis responsable de mes actes présents.
A la question « Doit-on croire au destin ? », Bouddha répond : « Votre destin est la possibilité de votre liberté. »
Destin, liberté, nécessité et causalité chez Tacite ou la philosophie tacitéenne de la dignitas humana [article] Joseph Mambwini Kivuila-Kiaku, L’Antiquité Classique Année 1995 64 pp. 111-127. Persée: https://www.persee.fr/collection/antiq