Making Choices, And Owning Them

I skimmed through an article a Facebook friend shared, 15 Things You Don’t Owe Anyone, and it got me thinking. When I started skimming I was expecting only the blatantly obvious, something like: you don’t owe anyone sex because they paid for dinner. But I was really struck by the items on the list that state that you don’t owe anyone an explanation of your life choices (whether that be relationships, career, appearance, etc.).

It hit me, rather suddenly, that I spend way too much time coming up with explanations. Explanations for my actions, my choices, my feelings. Some of these are explanations that I give to other people, or that I fantasize about giving to people. But most of the time I’m trying to give myself an explanation. I try to justify my feelings and my decisions, as if every little thing that I do needs to be defended.

As I’m finishing up my teacher education program and applying for my first teaching job, I’ve been trying to justify two things to myself:

1) Why do I want to work in that city? The same city that he lives in.

I’ve justified it to myself by reasoning that he’s the only one I know in this geographic area and I don’t want to be lonely. I want to have support, someone to lean on when my first year of teaching gets rough.

Sure, that’s a good reason. And maybe it’s true. At least partially. But deep down I know that I’ve made a decision, and I don’t need to explain it to anyone, least of all myself. I’m allowed to make decisions, even life-changing ones, for whatever reason I want. Or for no good reason at all.

   2) Do I want to be a teacher for the rest of my life? Is it horrible if the answer is NO?

I know so many people who are becoming teachers because they feel that it is their calling in life. They’ve wanted to become a teacher for several years, if not more. But that’s not me. It took me a long time to make this decisions. It was, admittedly, not my first choice career path. And I do see myself doing something different at some point (I will finish writing my novel someday, that is something I am certain about). But just because I don’t plan on teaching for the next fifty years, doesn’t mean that I can’t be a great teacher for however long I do it for. And I don’t need to explain that to my peers or my future boss or myself.

Sometimes in life we do things that don’t make sense and we make decisions that aren’t the most logical. I could spend the rest of my life trying to justify the choices I have made, trying to convince myself and everyone else that I was reasonable in my decision making process. But sometimes the most reasonable thing to do, is to go for what you want. Do what you need to do. Do what makes you happy. Do what you feel is right. Do it and own it and don’t apologize to anyone. Do it and don’t even think about regretting it.

Wishy Washy – Life After College

            I am not a decisive person. I hate making decisions. And as a senior in college, I’ve got some BIG decisions to make over the next few months. Mainly: what am I going to do for the rest of my life?!?!?!?! To narrow it down a bit, my current struggle is to decide whether or not I should go to law school. I thought I shared my two trains of thought on the situation. Maybe it will help sway my opinion so I can at least make some sort of decision.

            Anti Law School Thoughts: Law school is a three-year commitment, and it seems like everyone who goes through it hates it with a passion. I read very slowly, there is no way I will be able to handle the work load in my classes, let alone the actual work load of a practicing lawyer. What if I drop out after a year or two? What if I don’t drop out and I can’t find a job? What if I find a job and I hate it for the rest of my life? What if I’m the worst lawyer in the history of lawyers? What if I become corrupt, or am forced to defend something or someone whom I am fundamentally opposed to? I already have a whole lot of student debt, and I will have way more if I go to law school. I might get a high paying job, but I might not get a job at all – and I may be stuck working in the grocery store deli for the rest of all eternity. I might hate law school and not make any friends or have any fun for three solid years and always regret not trying to find a job in publishing. What if I sign up to go to law school and then by some highly unlikely turn of events I am accepted for an amazing internship that I might apply for in a field that I might love. And the worst possibility: by choosing law school I might miss out on a truly life-changing experience – finding my dream career, falling in love, going where life takes me and seeing what happens.

            Pro Law School Thoughts: I am smart and strong and capable of achieving more than anyone expects of me – including law school. Pretty much everyone besides my mom tells me I’d make an awful lawyer and I want to prove them wrong. Not every lawyer is of the obnoxiously opinionated variety and refuse to keep their mouth shut. Nice people can be lawyers too. What do I really have to lose? No matter what the outcome, I will leave law school more knowledgeable and better educated. I’m already thousands of dollars in debt, might as well quadruple it and in doing so increase my chances of actually being able to pay off those loans before I’m ready to ship off to a nursing home. I could actually make a difference as a lawyer. I could study Intellectual Property law, or animal rights, or a dozen other things which could actual be pretty interesting. I could be a lawyer for a few years, and write novels in my spare time. If I really want to be a writer, I need a day job to pay the bills. And the best possibility: by choosing law school I might find my dream career, fall in love, take a risk and end up with a fantastic life I never knew I wanted.

Well, I’m not sure anything is clearer to me. Some days I feel totally gung-ho about the whole idea, and other days I feel one hundred percent certain that it is not the path I should take. Can you tell which mood I’m in today?