“If it’s meant to be, it will be.” These words are ones I often hear, and while I think they are meant to be comforting, they make me kind of angry.

What does someone mean by “if it’s meant to be?” What does “meant to be” actually mean? Is this an appeal to a higher power, or is this paying homage to the balance of the universe? Whatever it means, I don’t like it.

As humans, we fear failure. This much is clear. I think even more than failure, however, we fear the responsibility for failure. And even more than the responsibility for failure, we fear responsibility for the failure of others. We don’t want to be the reason things go wrong. We’d rather attribute success to fate than to our own actions. We’d rather say something was meant to happen all along than say a person’s actions caused it.

I appreciate that this phrase is supposed to be comforting. I recognize there are things in life we have no control over. This phrase allows us to relinquish control and let the chips fall where they may. However, when it comes to our lives, I think we should take control whenever we can.

I understand not wanting to feel responsible when bad things happen, and I don’t think we should dwell on the negative, even if we hold ourselves responsible for it. But if we don’t take control, we can’t hold ourselves responsible for the good. If we attribute everything to fate, we cannot say we ever really did anything at all.

Throughout our lives, we are faced with numerous choices. Stand up or sit down. Do it or don’t. Go for it or back down. If we let fate take the wheel, we would choose the latter in each of these. We would choose not to act. We would choose not to go for it. We would choose complacency.

Complacency is our worst enemy — in any situation. The phrase I mentioned previously can be interpreted as a cop-out. It’s a way to make us feel OK about not trying. It’s a way for us not to feel guilty about not taking responsibility. I’m not faulting anyone for not wanting to experience adversity in their life. However, I do believe there is fault in choosing nothing to happen over choosing something bad happening.

If we want to improve ourselves, we have to take risks. And when we don’t take accountability for what happens in our lives, why would we ever do anything uncomfortable? Why would we take a risk? Why would we knowingly do something that could end badly?

Because it could be good. It could be everything we ever wanted. It could be perfect. I believe in the concept of free will, and I don’t believe our futures are perfectly laid out for us. With every move we make — every decision, every change — our future changes. Our lives are whatever we decide them to be. By choosing to be passive, we are essentially wasting potential. We are meant to live, to grow and to change. In order to ensure this happens, we need to take control of all the outcomes — good and bad.

As scary as the possibility of bad things happening as a result of our own decisions and their direct results is — rather than at the hands of a higher power — we must rise above this fear. The potential of success should outweigh the potential of failure. The paths of our lives are not “meant to be.” We, as people, are meant to be.

Taylor Cavaliere is a UF journalism and psychology junior. Her column appears on Tuesdays.