In Superstitious Universe, Keep to Oneself

Jan 3 , 2021
By Kidist Yidnekachew ( Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at )

Sometimes we are confident that things will work out for us. If we close our eyes, we can vividly see that project or venture coming through. The only thing is that we have to wait for it patiently.

Then, boom! The next thing we know, it has completely fallen apart. But wait, we were almost positive that it was going to happen.

What went wrong? Why did the universe reverse our good luck? How is it possible that we are expected to brave such odds, anticipate such complex blindsiding challenges?

At some point, we start to think, "Maybe it’s me; something is wrong with me.”

Then we remember that old wives' tale, Be Werae Yekeral– it generally means to jinx something good by blabbering about it. That is why we are often told to keep our goals a secret. Then we go back and try to trace the number of people we told about our endeavour. Just a few family members and friends here and there; we did not announce it. Next time, we will keep it only to ourselves.

A family member went through a similar bout of heady optimism, followed up with failure and frustration, followed up with self-doubt and a sprinkling of superstition.

I met her the other day to find that she was heartbroken. There was a venture she and her friend had started, which they believed would pay off handsomely. They looked for venture capitalists for their entrepreneurial idea.

They did manage to find some people with money who were willing to invest and work with them. They signed an agreement. But shortly after, one of the investors pulled out and took the others with him. There was an agreement but they had no appetite or money to go through an expensive legal proceeding with wealthy people who probably had well-paid lawyers on retainer.

She was crushed. She had tried her hand in business perhaps half a dozen times in the past two years, and she had little to show for it. I argued that she should not give up, but maybe not announce her plans to everyone.

Research backs up my reasoning and Ethiopia’s superstition to an extent. Announcing plans to family and friends would make us feel like we have already accomplished our goals. It decreases our motivation to act. This has happened to me on several occasions. Every time I tell someone that I would start an online class or write a proposal, I do the opposite.

“I don't think that is the case for me,” my relative argued. “My problem isn't acting on my goals. I have the motivation for it, and I always feel like I have done my part. Maybe I am just unlucky.”

Maybe there is a reason why the plans are falling apart. Perhaps those projects would have harmed her in the end as they involved short cuts. Maybe it was for the best.

“Once or twice, fine. But every time? C'mon!” she retorted. “I know people who used the same ideas and skyrocketed their way to wealth.”

What then explains her bad luck?

For a long time, I thought a person who fails to succeed was not working hard enough or doing what they were supposed to do. But it is sometimes the case that there are people who have worked hard, done all they were supposed to do. They even have the mindset for it, with a positive outlook on life that is shattered by cold reality.

It is hard to assign blame. Luck plays a major part, contributing greatly to our successes and failures. It is the unseen weaver of fates in the universe.

PUBLISHED ON Jan 03,2021 [ VOL 21 , NO 1079]

Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at

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