Not if, but When.

Jennifer - Bellingham, Washington
Entered on December 5, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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Providence moves.

A lot of life is how you choose to talk about it.

There is a lot to be said for using language to your favor, particularly when talking about your dreams. Speaking about them in a definitive manner, even when they feel less than concrete. I will say the word ‘when’ even when a more realistic word to use would be ‘if’, when I talk about a situation I desire coming to pass. Taking all chance of possibility out of an equation and replacing it with certainty, has put me in some of the most amazing and wonderful situations I have ever encountered in my life.

There is a rallying cry inherent in the very word ‘when’. I think it is truly irresistible. When you use the word ‘when’ it means something is going to happen. It is a forgone conclusion. People like to get behind forgone conclusions, much more so than things that may or may not happen. They want to be part of it too; there is something sticky about it. People will marshal resources to your cause. Insurmountable odds begin to fall away and your dream gains momentum. I believe the universe feels similarly inclined in regard to the word ‘when’.

I spent a year halfway around the world, with the whole trip set in motion by utilizing this one small difference in semantics. I had studies abroad for six months in The Himalayan Mountains of Nepal my junior year of college, and wanted desperately to return there. With two months to go until my graduation, I had no money and no plan on how I was going to get back. Then I consciously made the switch each and every time I talked about returning. In every situation when my plans came up, I substituted the word ‘when’ where I should have said, ‘if’. If I go back, simply became, when I go back.

Once I made this shift providence began to move. I unexpectedly heard about a grant that was available for studies in Southeast Asian countries. Although Nepal was not one of the countries listed, I applied. I figured being awarded it would at least get me close. I was awarded the grant, which allowed me to spend six months in Thailand and surprisingly an additional six months back in Nepal.

Strange and mysterious, the change that can result from changing the way you talk about things. It’s these tiniest of nudges in the universe that are sometimes all that are needed to get the ball rolling.

I picture a boulder perfectly balanced on a high cliff. It takes a breath of air, a single particle of dust to alight on its surface, to be the force that sends it on its way. It is the small and seemly inconsequential things that end up being the most full of impact. It is what put me back in the Himalayas. It is the infinitesimally small difference that exists between ‘if’ and ‘when’.