Sometimes the decisions you make influence your life more than you realize down the road. And the only time it dawns on you is when you’re 5 years older and reflecting back on what life would’ve been like back then had you made another choice or decided not to do something that you did.
Of course, we have all sorts of decisions like these. Half the time, they’re for the better and we do better in life because of them. On the other hand, you have some questionable decisions that end up impacting your life more negatively than you would’ve hoped for. This is a conundrum in life that we’ll always have to face, especially because it’s something we’ll never conquer. Think about it: no matter what you do, there will be good choices and bad choices. If we could all see the better option advertised as such right when we choose it, well, we’d never have bad choices. But since life isn’t full of billboards telling you what’s best for you, you’re forced to navigate through your years hoping that you’re making the best choices available to you.
Just today I was pondering my own life and where I would’ve been 3 years ago had I decided to not go back to school for my graduate degree. I know here and now that I would’ve had half the student debt I do now while also having a two year headstart on my salary, other debt, and investments.
Would this decision have been better for me? In a financial sense, it definitely would have. And I can sit and dwell on that information as much as I want, but the best way to look at life when you feel things are down is to peek at the side from the other end of the spectrum. When I weigh my potential happiness and interest in life in both hands, going to grad school opened up my mind and my hobbies and happiness far more than I ever would’ve realized if I just kept teaching. To me, this is far more important than my financial situation being more comfortable, if only because my happiness and interests and love for life are what make me who I am.
Sometimes I end up rooting around in some old shipping boxes that contain photos or clothes or games from my undergrad years, and it fills my mind with memories and regret and emotions that are hard to comprehend. While it’s easy to get caught up in those feelings and thoughts, I know that those items in the shipping boxes are merely just items now, and dwelling on the past does me no favors for the here and now. If we all just focused on the present more, life would turn out to be a much more positive and healthier place.