“I’m thinking grilled shrimp. But wait! There are deep fried gator sliders! God, ever since I went back to eating meat, it takes me 15 minutes just to order in a restaurant.”
I am sitting across from an old friend, trying to do what you’d think would be easy: I’m trying to sit down and figure out what I want. It’s easier said than done. I look at this menu, look at her and realize that few things are really that simple.
All you have to do is sit down, decide what you want and then go after it. Life isn’t like being a vegetarian in a restaurant, where all you have to choose from is salad or french fries. Life is like being Anthony Bourdain: you could have the steak, the fish or you could just have the chef cook up whatever’s living under the fridge. The menu doesn’t have pictures, and you don’t know what the portions are like. How are you supposed to just sit down, figure out what you want and order it? What if it comes and it’s nothing like you thought it would be? Buyer’s remorse on a plate of gator sliders is a lot different from buyer’s remorse on a career. A spouse. A family.
She chose differently than I did. Though we are the same age, my friend has chosen a husband, kids and a very different career than mine. I chose a career, a cat and a life where I come home to a house of near silence. Though neither of us wishes to swap lives, there are certainly days when we would both like to swap for a couple of hours. After those two hours, I would say “I just need some quiet,” and she would say “I’m bored and miss my family,” but the impulse is still there.
I look at her life and think “look at these people on her team, look at the life they can make together. She does not have to go on awkward first dates and her house is not like a library. She and her husband can lean on each other, and her kids need her.” I’m sure there’s some little part of her that looks at my life and thinks “she can talk on the phone without anyone yelling ‘mommy!’ She can go out dancing, nobody asks her what’s for dinner after she’s worked a long day, and nobody ever pukes on her.”
Universal truth: it is nice to not be puked on.
The thing about choosing a life is that it really is possible to change your mind. You can choose the career for a while, and then choose the family. You don’t always have to choose correctly the first time (though I don’t recommend un-choosing your children), but everything you do is a kind of choice.
Indecision is still a decision, it’s just really lazy. It is you saying, “I choose to not eat.” I would rather make a decision and then change my mind than just not care, and lord knows I’ve changed my mind a few times. Go on, ask me about my college credits.
I have friends who are thinking of changing their direction. I have friends who love their direction. I have friends who forgot to choose. Though my friend and I may think for a minute or two that the grass is greener on the other side, we are both ultimately content with what we’ve chosen. One day I may choose something else, but that doesn’t mean that what I have is somehow unacceptable. It’s like choosing between shrimp and gator: there’s no wrong choice, but there might be a better one.
In the great restaurant of life, you may regret having ordered gator sliders. You may sit and wonder if the shrimp might have been better. But if you don’t choose something, you definitely lose. You sit there and starve.
I ended up picking the grilled shrimp. They were delicious. But I’m getting the gator sliders next time.