By Alicia Chen
Do you have superstitions? Are they just the classic ones like “Don’t walk under a ladder” or “Don’t step on a crack”? Or have you created your own as you’ve lived your life. I mean, most people have. Especially if you take part in something like a sport, where you start to think that maybe a certain object is actually the cause of all of your wins and all of your luck. For example, a lucky pair of socks? Or maybe something you do is a superstition to you? Like when the day of the big game rolls around, you make sure you always eat the same thing and always do the same thing. Or maybe you have a test taking pencil that you use everytime you take a test to make sure you’re as lucky as possible. No? Just me? Cool.
Regardless of what superstitions you may have, there’s a common thread between them all. It’s not a “wow that’s so cool” common thread, but it’s something they have in common nonetheless. It’s that they all have origins, and most likely, those origins all stemmed from your irrational fears. Perhaps you’re scared of losing a sports game for your team, or failing a test. Here’s a scenario for you. It’s the day of your big competition. You wake up at five in the morning, eat a bagel, then realize that you forgot to wash your uniform the night before. You start freaking out because that’s your lucky uniform and it just has to be clean. But your family is still asleep and your coach wants you at the school for warmups in twenty minutes because the team you’re facing is undefeated. So you hastily throw the uniform in your bag and head to the school. But SURPRISE! Your team ends up winning the game. If you’re anything like me, you’ll attribute that unlikely win to your unwashed uniform or even eating that bagel. And so begins a long few seasons of stinky uniforms and bagels.
That’s just one way you could develop a superstition. You get lucky once or a few times from doing something, and you just can’t break that cycle because of fear. Fear of doing bad. In this way, superstitions are controlling. You are forever stuck in the cycle of doing/wearing this one thing because you think that’s the only thing making you lucky. Most people don’t think that they are being controlled by their superstitions, but think that they are in control. For example, superstitions make you think you’re in control of your outcomes. As people, we like to feel like we have that control over ourselves and our “fates”, if you will. You think that by just completing this one simple action, that you suddenly are guaranteed a win. The only time this cycle can break is when you lose your game, or fail a test. It’s only when you see your superstition fail you, that you finally realize that maybe you were being a bit irrational. But then another sports season rolls around, or another test comes up, and thus begins the cycle of superstition once more.