- You always have a choice. Even if your choices are only crappy ones, you still have a choice.
- Choices come with consequences.
- Not all consequences are good.
- Not choosing is still a choice.
- “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt.
Recognizing my inherent luck, I did actually start figuring it out. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t without humility. Explaining wage garnishment to your boss is never a pleasant conversation. Handing the BMV clerk your certificate from Traffic School and proof of payment for the outstanding speeding tickets is embarrassing. Getting lecture after lecture from credit card companies as you’re trying to work out affordable payment plans for overdue balances is tedious. You become very practiced at admitting your fault and negligence and promising that you are trying to fix your mistakes. But I did it. I admitted making mistakes and started making a plan to fix those mistakes and start taking responsibility for my actions.
It might be because of these hard lessons that I tend to have little sympathy for people when they refuse to hold themselves accountable for their actions. It’s one thing to not realize you made a mistake, and for that, I have all the sympathy in the world, because, well, see above. But when these mistakes become apparent and you leave them as such and prefer to wallow in misery and complaining or just keep the status quo, that is when my sympathy ends. You have a choice. You always have a choice.
Sometimes the consequences are hard. Yes. But sometimes choosing to not make decisions leads to harder consequences. And sometimes those consequences lead to more decisions and more consequences. But you always have the choice. There is no other force at work destroying your life. You make the decisions. You decide. You.
People make hard choices every day. People decide to turn off respirators. People decide to undergo chemotherapy. People decide to quit chemotherapy. People decide to take second or third jobs. People decide to get sober. People decide to take medication. People decide to abandon their families. People decide to get divorced. People decide to swindle others out of millions of dollars. People decide to cheat, steal, and murder. And people decide to listen, help, and heal. People choose to try. People choose to give up trying. People choose. You choose.
And the only person to blame for your mistakes is you, because you chose. Maybe you didn’t know it was a mistake when you made the choice, but you made it. But the best thing is that you can make more choices, choices to fix the mistake, choices to lead you somewhere better. You get to make that choice. And there are always choices.
A class on personal responsibility should be a requisite before graduating high school. We learn cause and effect in physics, bull and bear markets in economics, and good versus bad in philosophy. But we never get that explicit lesson in how that relates to us. Just words on a chalkboard or characters in a book. These don’t work because we are real people. Real people making real decisions, with real consequences.
No matter what it is, it’s always about our own choices. I hope America can remember that and preserve that.