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  • Writer's pictureSydney Schatz

Serendipity: The Word I Keep On My Shoulder

Updated: Nov 4, 2020

Serendipity. A happy accident. This is not a word that is commonly used in everyday conversation, but when used appropriately can mean so much more than its simple definition. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fun to change up the usual ‘tips and tricks’ blog that I post and, instead, tell a little love story close to my heart, because sometimes the best things happen when you least expect it.

I’ve always been a control freak – I know, I know, that may come as a surprise to some of you… or not. What can I say? I love structure. It has mostly been in the last few years that I have learned to appreciate the concept of “going with the flow”, even if I am still not great at implementing it into my personal life. But I think this is one of the reasons why I love the word serendipity so much, it seems to give the concept of “accident” purpose and meaning. If someone says that something is serendipitous, most people only see the “happy” part of that definitely, not the “accident” side. It makes a sentence joyous… and let’s be honest, you sound smart saying it.

My story starts with heartbreak. Now, everyone goes through at least one heartbreak in their lifetime. It can be because of a bad breakup, but it can also be from other things. In this case it was just that, a bad college breakup. You know the kind I’m talking about. I took the page straight out of Chandler Bing’s playbook… sweatpants for days, not wanting to leave my room, eating only junk food and crying until I didn’t think I had any tears left, but eventually you have to pick yourself up and move on because in the long run, it was meant to happen. I decided I was too young to keep trying to force certain events in my life to happen – that’s just not how life works. There are speed bumps, twists and turns, and long open stretches with no rest stops. I decided to open myself up to the world and stop expecting things to happen just because I believed that’s what was next for me and life’s journey. I decided to enjoy the short time I had left where I had adult privileges, yet little adult responsibility. And let me tell you, it did not take long for the world to respond to my change in attitude.

Have you ever heard the song “Sweet Serendipity”? Well, I listen to that song often to remind myself that I’m doing just fine, to love what I’ve got and that the worst hasn’t happened yet. After months of contemplation, I decided to get that forever reminder tattooed onto my shoulder (side note: the tattoo artist quite literally asked me 10 times if the word was spelled correctly before going to work… I appreciate his thoroughness). Two short weeks later, I returned to college from winter break where I would soon stumble upon the best surprise of my life.

As I have mentioned before, I was a competitive collegiate rock climber, so I spent most of my days and free time at the rock wall on campus. My best friend and climbing partner knew that I had gone through a rough couple of months, so she encouraged – read “dragged” – me to participate in one of the weekly route setting nights at the wall. Now, for those who are not super familiar with the climbing world, when you look at a man-made rock wall all those holds that you see are put there with purpose and reason, they make up a route (or several different routes). Well, that night, I was volun-told to be one of those people placing those holds and creating routes. As much as I love the sport and hobby of rock climbing, route setting is not one of my strengths. So, there I was staring at this wall willing it to tell me where to place the holds laying on the ground in front of me – it wasn’t working, the wall wasn’t talking. My friend and I are there, damsels in distress if you will, when all of a sudden, this dark and mysterious knight-in-shining-armor comes walking up behind us… okay, I may be exaggerating that part a little, but we were struggling and apparently not doing a good job of hiding it. Anyway, over walks this guy who I had seen at the wall before, but was always intimidated by because he was a much better climber than me (See how I put the word was in there? That’s right, we now play on the same field), he clearly knew what he was doing when it came to route setting and I knew he was older than me. Nonetheless, he asked if I needed help setting the route I was working on. I was so shocked that he was even talking to me that before I had a chance to respond, my wonderful best friend blurted, “Yes, she certainly does!” and just walked away.

I guess you can say that the rest is history, but I could also tell you that even after 6 years of being together that first year was the hardest for me. That night the world gave me my very favorite serendipitous moment in time, but at the same time said, you are going to have to work for this one. I spent the next year trying to decipher the code to opening up my shy and gentle partner. It wasn’t easy learning each other’s love languages. I am now a firm believer in the old saying, “it takes two years to truly get to know someone” because it was after those two years of reading his book cover to cover multiple times that I knew in my heart he is the best life partner I could ever ask for.

So, there you go, I could go on and on about everything we have done and accomplished in our short years together, but when I look back it’s that first year that still holds a special place in my heart. I don’t like to think about the ‘what if’ rabbit hole too often, but I can’t imagine how different my life would be if I pushed back and didn’t let my friend drag me to the rock wall that night or if I was a better route setter and didn’t need Chris’s help. Life doesn’t always go exactly like you planned, but when you get the chance to embrace the serendipitous moments that come your way, sometimes those are the best ones!

Huge thank you to Hannah Snider with Hanomaly Photo for telling this story through the talent of picture taking a couple years back. I will never stop looking at these photos.

I would love to hear your love story! Drop it in the comments below.

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