We do it every day: cereal or oatmeal for breakfast? Skip or go to class? Buy those cute, on sale shoes or save for a new laptop? We make choices each and every day that define how our day, week, year, or life will go. And unfortunately, some of those choices turn out to be mistakes.
Making mistakes is a part of life, especially when you’re young. We tend to live in a time when everyone seems to be afraid to take a chance for fear that it won’t work out. We’re afraid to make mistakes when in reality, it’s okay to change your major, leave a job you hate, or move somewhere new. If we don’t take these chances, we’ll be stuck wondering “what if” and be unable to move on.
The other side of that “go take risks” coin is that some things just don’t turn out like you anticipated. Maybe your new major isn’t as interesting as you thought it would be, or your new city doesn’t feel the same as it did when you visited before you moved. While these negative outcomes may feel like a slap in the face, they allow us to learn from our mistakes, adapt to the change, and, once we move on from that choice, shrug our shoulders and say “well at least I tried”.
When you make a choice, people might not tell you that you could lose a loved one. When I made the choice to move to Spain, I made a choice to leave behind someone who loved me. While I am thankful for the experiences I have had while being overseas, there’s nothing that pains me more than knowing I hurt someone who loved me, and while they loved me too, they just had to leave. And when someone leaves, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll miss them.
You might come to regret your choice. I’m sure this is actually something people tell you, but you never know how you’ll feel after the fact. It might take you a day to regret your choice. Maybe a year. Maybe you never regret your choice. But something I’ve noticed is how you feel about your choices comes in waves. To stay with the above example, sometimes I regret leaving everything behind to “start over” considering I had it good. Other days, I love having the ability to be somewhere new. If the regrets outweigh the positives you feel, you might have to reevaluate your choices.
Let’s say your decision to do something doesn’t have the desired effect. What usually happens is that nobody tells you how to fix it, and sometimes, they don’t let you fix it. Part of being an adult is accepting the consequences of your actions. We can ask for help, and usually people will help us. In the event they don’t, find someone who will; you don’t have to be alone. And the people who don’t let you fix it? If they are important enough to you and you are important enough to them, there will eventually be forgiveness and acceptance, but it might take some time. As I try to right my wrongs, it just brings up the hurt and pain. It will take time to have this person trust me again or chose to even have me in their life.
Mistakes can be tricky because maybe you don’t always feel like it’s a mistake. While you may not feel like it’s a mistake, others may think differently. There are two routes to this: either take what the other person has to say about your decision with a grain of salt or try to see your choice through their eyes. Look, more choices. But like the regret, maybe you don’t see your choice as a mistake until it’s too late.
We make choices every day; some of those choices have beneficial outcomes, some not so much. The key is to take risks and adapt to the outcome. If you have made a choice (good or bad) and you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a break to breathe. Accepting that promotion helps you feel accomplished, but it’ll also make you work harder. Changing your major helps you discover if you like something new, but it’ll also mean starting over. Just take the time to breathe and figure out how to keep moving forward.
Also published on Medium.