Choice

Truth - Life is a series of choices. We are constantly tasked with making choices whether we are conscious of them or not. In some instances there seems to be much a myriad of options and at other times we feel limited but nonetheless we are made to choose. Regardless of our preparedness we have to choose, and even deciding not to choose is a paradoxical choice in and of itself. We learn what we need to choose in our lifelong of practice of choosing. This is choice.
 
"There are three constants in life... change, choice and principles." Stephen Covey

One of the many dilemmas my generation faces is the abundance of choice. Now, more than any other time in history, we are given more choices. We have options, opportunities, and less boundaries. From what we eat to where we live, to what we do and how we do it - choice after choice is presented to us. Our challenge is to manage the smaller choices while tackling the gargantuan ones as well. Even that dichotomy though plays into the over-emphasis we put on some choices while disregarding others. While all may not seem significant they are important, particularly when we come to personal or professional impasses. When things seem completely out of control one powerful coping mechanism is minimizing and taking charge where we are able. Choose what you want to buy at the grocery store, choose when to set your alarm, or choose what to wear. Anything tangible that gives you the gravitas and give you perspective. When our most impactful choices are set before us we have to figure out what we need to make informed decisions.

What if choice is an illusion? What if we perceive ourselves to have choice but in actuality our choices are never truly unlimited. There have already been decisions made that effect that we are even able to choose from. Choice is constrained and we make our selections from a the parameters previously established. Then there are those massive life choices that seem to permeate every aspect of our lives. Choosing who we to be in a relationship  with, where to reside, and of course what to do to sustain ourselves both financially and spiritually - the list goes on and on. Choosing a job differs from selecting a career or finding a profession. Choosing requires context in grounded ways. Goals can be short sighted or long-term. What do you need right here and now?
 
It's okay to be unsure. It's okay to not know. It's okay to figure it out as you go along. It's okay to not be okay. Read that last sentence again and take it to heart. It is absolutely okay to not be okay. Transitioning no matter if it's graduating from college, moving across the country, changing jobs, having kids, breaking up, or everything in between is part of  the uncertainty of life. We are constantly in flux. That is a definitive part of the human experience. Stagnancy might provide stability but also is the kind of dangerous comfort that stifles growth. Not knowing is both the thrilling and terrifying parts of what defines our lives. It's what we do with our fear that makes all the difference. How do you control your trepidations? How do you minimize their impact on you? How do you overcome what scares you? I think we have to embrace the unknown, relish in it, and learn to use it to our own advantage. It's our outlook and perspectives that have to shift when we makes choices as well. We get to have broad searches, find what we're passionate about, and explore. It's not just staring blankly at everything being up in the air waiting for all the crash down. There is wonder, excitement, and joy in those clouds. We need to use it to give us peace. The sooner we accept our situations the sooner we can become master over them, or know that we will never have absolute control over them.
 
There is not one right way to live your life. There is not a uniform pathway to follow. There is not a definitive map of where to go and when to do it. We are cartographers. We are pioneers. We are circumnavigators. We are the authors of own life stories. We get to write memorable happenings each and every day. We get to experience all of life's ups and downs. In the choices that are coming our way we need to be cognizant of all the other factors at play - our emotions, schedules, families, friends, significant others, and even the national narratives we are part of. All the outside factors matter but above all else we have to choose for ourselves. We have to choose us. Choose you. Choose now. Choose happiness. We have to live with our choices and they may impact others but most affected will always be us. We know on some levels what we want or the choice we would make but others things hold us back. What if the choice was as simple as choosing?
 
There is this outdated notion that what you study in college necessarily dictates what you are able to do in life professionally. Not only is college not for everyone, but it's not necessary for everyone. Beyond that most people with their degrees are not working in a field that had their degree as a prerequisite. That's not to say their degrees were wasteful but what is gained is more than just scholarship in academia. Back in the day people would have one lifelong career but the reality is most people these days have two to three. That's not going from being a doctor to a healthcare administrator, that is moving from photojournalist to food truck owner to non-profit organizer. When I say we choose for now, I mean it. What you do with your life needs to work for you right here, right now, and it doesn't necessarily have to be long term. So you take a year to travel, or you do volunteer work with a cause you care about, or you work as a barista, retail, or server. Nothing in permanent. Nothing lasts forever. Choose what will give you fulfillment, sustain you, and help you grow. Choose to thrive not just survive. Choose something that will make you into a better version of yourself. If you're not growing, what's the point?
 
Whenever I need to make a choice there's a few resources I use. Values assessments can be thoroughly illuminating. Does what you are doing or what you will be doing align with your values as a person? Does the work environment and the mission of the organization make you feel good? Do you feel like you have done something meaningful? Then there's the I don't what know I want but I do know what I don't want. List things that are non-negotiable for you. What are your deal breakers? What makes you angry? What are you unwilling to give up? Last but not least is look at your resume. Have someone else read it and ask them what it says about you? In college I was studying biology and yet my resume was all student engagement, social justice, and journalism. What I was studying did not match what I had a fervor for. What do you do in your free time? What are your hobbies, and what are you passionate about? If you had five million dollars what would you be doing with your life? It's a very telling question and feeds into how do you want to change the world or be remembered for? At the end of your life story, what do you want have written about you?
 
There needs to be support groups for people in transition. It's so important just to have people around you going through similar things just to know that you're not alone. Know that you're not alone. Others have been through what you are experiencing and if not know that others can only try to understand you or empathize with you if you let them. Let people in. Talk about what you're feeling. Share what you're afraid of. We are stronger together, always. I had this amazing group of friends senior year of college where we get coffee, go apple-picking, or hit up a buffet and just talk about everything we were going through. Do it. Reach out. Make your choices with the help of others, they may be able to see things about you that you don't. You'll decide whether you are ready or not. X

*Looking for even more stories from my transition from college to "adulthood" read them here: Lost Boy & Under the Surface & Cartographer.

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