Here is what I know for sure: You’re going to regret every choice that you make.
I don’t mean to be a downer – quite the opposite in fact. I don’t think that every choice you’re going to make will be a poor one. I believe in your choices! I believe that you are excellent in making them. But what I don’t believe in is our ability, as humans, to properly evaluate the choices that we’ve made in retrospect. Because we seem to mess up an awful lot, don’t we? Isn’t it funny how that works?
Here’s the problem with making decisions – when we do so, we look at the highlight reel of both options. The raging success that one choice could empower us with, the comfortable stability another could ensure. We decide which choice to go with by evaluating the best-case scenarios but we fail to imagine the worst. We neglect to remember that each choice comes with its pitfalls and its drawbacks. And no matter what we choose, we will encounter those downfalls.
You can’t escape things going wrong. You’re going to fail and fall short and be criticized for any choice you make, even the most logical one. That’s both the horror and redemption of any decision. As soon as the days start to wear or the challenges begin to rear their ugly heads, we immediately want to rush backwards. We condemn ourselves for making a poor decision, as though there could possibly have been another option where each day was paved with successes and cosmic Universal rewards. We forget all of the grim consequences the other choice could have presented to us and we gaze melancholically at the shiny highlight reel that we cast aside.
It’s all-to-easy to idealize the things we didn’t choose. But here’s the truth about every decision you make: At some point or another, you’re going to find yourself down in its muddy, perilous trenches. So the most important question you can ask yourself is: Which trenches do you want to be down in? Which side do you want to be fighting for? When the going gets tough and all the currents are swimming against you (because they will be), what are you going to keep on thrashing for?
What are you going to believe in on the days when you are fed up and exhausted? Who are you still going to love when you’ve been fighting for seven straight hours? What’s going to jump out and claim itself “Worth it” on the worst day, instead of the best? What is your favourite problem to have?
Because the right things will always be worth it – whether we fail, soar or fall somewhere in the undecided middle. When there’s a life that we know we should be living or a cause that we know we should be fighting for, there is nothing nobler we can do than to try for it with all that we’re worth. To fail at it. To learn from it. To bring ourselves as close to it as any way possible, on both our best days and our worst. Our job isn’t to win every battle we fight. Our job is to be a part of the right army.
We make decisions infinitely more complicated than they need to be: There is no right choice. There is no wrong. There are only different flavours of right and wrong and how they’ll manifest themselves through whichever choice you go on to make. So ask yourself – which flavour is the most bearable? And at the end of the day, which problem will you be proud to have?