So when we face hard choices,
we shouldn't beat our head against a wall
trying to figure out which alternative is better.
There is no best alternative.
Instead of looking for reasons out there,
we should be looking for reasons in here:
Who am I to be?
You might decide to be a pink sock-wearing,
cereal-loving, country-living banker,
and I might decide to be a black sock-wearing,
urban, donut-loving artist.
What we do in hard choices is very much
up to each of us.
Now, people who don't exercise their
normative powers in hard choices
We all know people like that.
I drifted into being a lawyer.
I didn't put my agency behind lawyering.
I wasn't for lawyering.
Drifters allow the world
to write the story of their lives.
They let mechanisms of reward and punishment --
pats on the head, fear, the easiness of an option —
to determine what they do.
So the lesson of hard choices:
reflect on what you can put your agency behind,
on what you can be for,
and through hard choices,
become that person.
Far from being sources of agony and dread,
hard choices are precious opportunities
for us to celebrate what is special
about the human condition,
that the reasons that govern our choices
as correct or incorrect
sometimes run out,
and it is here, in the space of hard choices,
that we have the power
to create reasons for ourselves
to become the distinctive people that we are.
And that's why hard choices are not a curse
but a godsend.
- Ruth Chang
This continues from my previous post.
Are you a drifter, or do you determine your own path? I am sure that almost every person has at one time or another been a drifter, allowing some external force (or their reaction towards that force, like fear) to choose which path to take. We tend to give up choice when we feel overwhelmed. We can feel overwhelmed for a variety of reasons: your friends and family wont stop nagging you to make a certain choice, you fear the consequences of certain paths, you feel like you won't be able to handle a path, you get lured in by the 'perks' of a path (even if it's not something you really want to do), you fear what conflict may come as a result of a specific choice, you fear what people will think of you, you feel like you don't know who you are... the list could go on but I'm sure you get the picture.
What you will realise about letting yourself drift from choice to choice is that you will not be completely at peace with the choice - maybe after time and effort - but otherwise it's unlikely that you'll actually be happy with where you end up. What tends to happen is that you start acting out in small ways, trying to somehow make yourself feel better, but in a kind of a twisted, self-sabotaging way. Maybe you start drinking heavily and getting into fights, maybe you fight with your partner, maybe you do reckless things - all in an attempt to make yourself feel better for not having the life you actually wanted. You may also stated blaming people - whoever - for where you ended up. You may believe that because you chose to not make a choice, you are not responsible for what follows. This blame starts at small, venomous thoughts in your mind and slowly grow over time until you are filled with rage. You think the rage is all about whoever it is you've decided to blame for your life, but deep down you know that you are in fact the one who is responsible - entirely so.
Obviously when you're 'in it' it's difficult to see what you're doing - all you see is the rage and the blame. It's also difficult to see how the whole thing started: at one point where you chose to give up your choice. The interesting thing is that giving up your choice does not mean that you give up the responsibility for what happens after - but most people believe that the opposite is true. It ends up being all about the blame game - everyone else is at fault because "I'm not responsible". The blame game validates our self images and makes us feel really good about ourselves - at the expense of being miserable.
When you are the one making the decisions in your life things tend to unfold very differently. You are more likely to understand that your life is your responsibility - that your choice sets your path, whether it works out or not. You are also more likely to realise that if your choice doesn't work out you can always choose a different path. This experience is empowering - realising that you really are in charge and that no matter what comes your way, you will find a way through it and still experience a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction that you did the best you could and that you can and will rise to meet any challenge with a clear mind and directive principle.