A recent Daily Prompt was: Pinpoint a moment in your past where you had to make a big decision. Write about that other alternate life that could have unfolded. My thoughts on this one are slightly different to the brief, so I hope you can bear with me.
What’s so bloody wrong with the road well travelled?
When did being on the common track become such a bad thing? I wonder if this obsession with being different has been popularised by people for whom “abnormal” isn’t an option? People who have the luxury of taking normal for granted, people who never have to aspire to normalcy because they are already there. I don’t feel like a lesser person because I have what some would consider very boring life aims:
- Be successful in my chosen career
- Have a healthy, happy relationship
- See my family as often as possible
- Maintain contact with my overseas friends
- Enjoy my chosen hobbies & make time to pursue them
This might seem like a boring list. Even now, in my current balanced state of mind, my instinct is to keep adding to the list so that it seems like I live an interesting life…surely this can’t be everything I aspire to! But that’s today. Tomorrow could be a different story. At a moments notice my depression can rob me of my ability to achieve even these most basic of aims. I care less about my work, I avoid contact with family and friends, I can’t be bothered picking up my creative or technical projects.
If life is a journey then achievement of our own personal aims is surely our destination. Personally, I like to think of myself travelling down the highway, with occasional detours to see something interesting or to take a break from it all. And even if I sometimes get lost, I’ll always find my way back to the highway in the end.
It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.
I like this quote because it doesn’t judge. It doesn’t advise. It doesn’t make assumptions about your values. All it does it state the obvious. But sometimes that’s exactly what we need.
As a teenager I would angrily shout “it’s my life” at my parents, especially when they tried to ruin that life by banning late nights or not allowing me to go to a disco. Funny how, despite my hormonal state, I was actually right. Now that I’m an adult it’s society that bears the brunt of my frustrated rage. Society places demands and restrictions on us – what we wear, how we act, the decisions we make – from the earliest age.
Or does it? How many of the rules that we follow in our lives are self-imposed perceptions of what society expects from us? I for one am guilty of not wearing a dress I like or not pursuing an interest I enjoy because I worry what others might think. I have passed up opportunities I should have grabbed with both hands out of a fear that I would make a fool of myself in front of others.
What I’ve recently come to realise is that what Ms. Jemison said is true – it really is my life. At night, when I lie in bed and think about the day that has passed the only person I have to answer to is me. The only person who has to live with the consequences of my decisions is me. And if I can’t go to sleep every night holding the belief that my life is everything I know it can be, well I’m pretty sure society isn’t going to step up to take the blame!
Have you ever had a major life decision to make, that you just couldn’t face? I’m not talking about if you should leave a full time job for a more interesting but temporary one. Or if you should buy a house or not. These are all big decisions, sure, but they don’t really determine the course of your life beyond perhaps a couple of years. I’m referring to the really big life-altering choices. Like leaving your partner. Or ending a friendship. Or leaving your family. Decisions that can’t be “taken back” once they’re made.
I have one of these decisions to make. I have had for the last three years. And I am nowhere near to making a choice. Instead, I have decided to put a pin in it. I live my life every day fully without reference to the issue. I have no feelings on it. I am numb. I live simply as if it did not exist.
Surely this is denial, you might say. And I would say no, it’s not. It’s entirely different. I don’t deny that I have a choice to make. I don’t deny the magnitude of it. I don’t deny the river of emotions that accompany both the decision and it’s eventual outcome. However, I accept that I am not emotionally ready to deal with it. And so, I live my life in the knowledge that one day, when I’m ready, I will make the decision and I will live through everything that comes with it.
And I know I will survive.