When I was a bookworm of a kid I loved to read books from the Choose Your Own Adventure series. The books were unique in that at the end of each chapter you were confronted with 2 choices. The alternatives would be things like, “to attack the dragon turn to page 10” or “to challenge the dragon to a dance-off turn to page 15”. You’d pick an option, then read the results of that selection before facing another pair of choices. Depending on the writer, if you chose the dance-off, you and the dragon might end up as Solid Gold dancers, or you’d be a crispy noodle in Chinese dragon stir-fry.
When I’d reached the end of the book, or the end of the sequences I’d chosen, I would go back and read the book again, picking the other alternatives (fainting goats/epileptic sheep). Sometimes I would peek ahead all along. Often a different result was better. Occasionally worse. Sometimes the alternative was just different.
There have been many times in life where I’ve looked back on my choices & wondered how things might have been different. “What if I’d stayed pre-med in college & gone on to medical school?” “What if I’d asked that girl out?” “What if I’d been published 10 years ago or started a mariachi goth band?” This gets me nowhere. It’s a reflective method of self-torture. It’s the ghost of Christmas past messing with Christmas future.
It’s not just dwelling on the past that can be paralyzing. Sometimes I deliberate on my future options for so long that I find myself standing in place, not moving anywhere except as the treadmill of life moves me backwards. Not deliberately choosing a path means a more passive, random, and often less desirable future.
In reality, choosing your own adventure is about moving forward, planning for your future. You shouldn’t look back. This is what’s really exciting; you are setting your own unique path, building your life. And only you can do it. You are the architect of you.
In the last year I’ve gone back to school for my MBA, while working full time. I’m enjoying it, relatively, and am doing pretty well at it. Am I sure it’s the right path for me? No. I do know, though, that it should take me somewhere. (I’m a lot more sure about my 5 week trip to Europe this last summer. It was awesome. More on that later.)
It’s easy to focus on what could have been, to let your regrets fester, imagining over and over how you wish you’d done things differently, until this festering sickens your present and your future. What’s done is done. You can’t go back. Take a lesson from it and move forward. If your first choice doesn’t work out, pick another path and see where that leads. Just don’t stand still. In this new year be deliberate. Kill the dragon (you’re a terrible dancer). Choose your own great adventure. db
The secret word is mariachi
Get updates from the Domesticated Bachelor through RSS or link to one of the buttons below! Do it!