How much of our life is defined by opportunities we get and how much by the options we choose? So many of the decisions of our youth tend to be out of our hands – where we live and grow, where we study, what we study, what we pursue as hobbies, who our friends are. And then we mature into adults and suddenly, every decision is ours to make, every option leading to its own consequence, every opportunity a chance to turn our lives one way or the other.
Sometimes I think about all the nodes in my life at which I’ve had to make a decision and wonder what it would be like if I’d chosen another option, pursued another opportunity. What if I’d stayed in India to study instead of going to Singapore? A part of me thinks I’d be less mature than I am now, having seen less of the world and done less by myself, but maybe living with my parents for longer would have given me more discipline and made my life more ordered. What if I’d gone to Singapore, but studied Arts instead of Science? I would have had a happier time in university, but what would my job prospects have been like? If I hadn’t ever taken up teaching, would I ever have been able to appreciate having a job I truly enjoyed? What would life be like now if I had decided to marry and/or have children earlier in life? What will come of my decision to give up my life in Singapore and come back to India?
In the end, I believe that all things happen for a reason. It’s cheesy, but it’s what gets me through life without worrying about what-ifs, without second-guessing every decision I make, without drowning in regret. Hindsight is always 20/20. It’s always going to be easy to look back and see a bad decision for what it is. But what’s also worth remembering is the fact that every good thing that’s happened in my life has also been because of the decisions I’ve taken. I’ve met awesome people, I’ve gone to wonderful places, I’ve done things I’ve enjoyed, all because my decisions took me down a certain path in life.
I have to give credit where it’s due – Lady Luck has mostly been on my side. Yes, there have been hurdles, but nothing I haven’t been able to overcome. I don’t think I can overstate how much luck and fate play a part in making sure things turn out the way we want them to. Sometimes, all the good decision-making in the world can’t change a bout of bad luck. And recognising that, in my opinion, plays a big role in helping us make peace with the hand life deals us.
So, all in all, I think I’m doing pretty well in terms of dealing with options. What I need to work on is recognising opportunities and seizing them. I tend to get complacent about life when things settle down, I take things for granted. I don’t like change (or rather, change that might yield negative results), so I err on the side of coasting along until a wave knocks me off course. I’m learning now to keep my eyes open, to not just look for stuff only when I absolutely have to, but to have my finger on the pulse for new opportunities, to not be afraid when it comes time to grab those opportunities and change my life, one way or another.
It’s a work in progress.