A friend sent me a link to a TED talk by Ruth Chang about ‘How to make hard choices.’ It’s a brilliant, well-constructed talk that leads to an empowering conclusion:
‘Far from being sources of agony and dread, hard choices are precious opportunities for us to celebrate what is special about the human condition. That the reasons that govern our choices as correct or incorrect sometimes run out, and it is here in the space of hard choices that we have the power to create reasons for ourselves to become the distinctive people that we are. And that’s why hard choices are not a curse, but a godsend.’
I hesitated over sharing that ‘spoiler’, but I encourage you to watch the entire video to see how she steadily, logically and engagingly takes us with her to this conclusion.
What this comes down to for me is the reminder of something I have believed for as long as I can remember: that each of our choices – from the clothes we select to wear, to the jobs we invest our time in and people we decide to spend our time with – are neither right nor wrong, but simply about WHO WE CHOOSE TO BE. Of course, if we can hold a clear sense of who we wish to be, each decision in our lives becomes lighter, and easier, but many of us spend a great deal of time agonising over who it is that we really ‘are’. The acknowledgement that who we are is not something static that we can ‘discover’, but something fluid that evolves within new each second of our existence – each new choice – can be terrifying, but is also incredibly exciting, and opens up great creative space.
It is also a reminder that choosing the safest option can lead us to decisions that steer us away from who we really wish to be – certainly something I have done many times (especially in my early twenties), as I am sure we all have. Growing back to feeling comfortable in my own skin has been leading me to new, creative, and sometimes less safe choices in some areas. At the same time, making very safe and sensible decisions in other areas has also felt like it has come from a new sense of purpose, rather than a fear of failure, or desire to fit in. It’s always useful, I find, to have new perspective to reflect on as we paint the path we are about to step onto.