Choice and change

13 Nov 2019

Inspiration can come from many sources. Some find it in religion, others encounter it along the pages of a Harry Potter book or self-optimizing YouTube channels. The people closest to you can inspire you, but so can complete strangers. And while inspiration is generally something that people seek it does often appear when we least expect it.

Throughout the past year, there have been exactly three distinct moments of inspiration when it comes to my own life. The first was a portrait in Humans of New York, the second a passage in Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, and the third the death of a person close to me. Every single one has taught me something and inspired me to change— and not a single lesson has been pleasant.

The first was about plans. Everyone has a plan A — the dream — and a plan B — the alternative. The portrait in Humans of New York told the story of someone giving up plan A for an apparently more secure option B, just to one day, having grown old without ever pursuing the dream, failing at the alternative they chose instead. This is at the same time a very unsettling and inspiring concept. The general possibility to fail at everything. Including whatever you settled for because you were too scared of your dreams.

The second was about the difference between responsibility and fault. It pretty much comes down to this: while we are not necessarily always at fault for things happening to us, we are always responsible for dealing with them. Even though some bad things happening to me are not my fault, it is my responsibility to build my life on the choices I make about dealing with them. That is a hard pill to swallow, because it is very unfair and yet very true.

And, finally, the third was about priorities. How even a long life is a very short existence and by living someone else’s dreams and ideas, we waste the little time we have. This was probably the hardest lesson, because it was taught by a painful loss.

It is hard to follow your dreams, because it is always easier to live through the idea of something rather than its reality. It is hard to take responsibility rather than fall into — however reasonable — self-pity. And it can be hard to cut out aspects of life that drag us down. But if we fail to do so, we will fail in seizing the one shot we have, the one life we can take responsibility for and the one existence that we are lucky enough to live.

Throughout the past year, I have learned three lessons and they lead me to following decision: stop studying a course program that is making me miserable, stop living the idea of a life that is eating me away and start pursuing the one thing I love. It has been an anxious and brilliant experience so far. And even though I feel as if the weeks leading up to this decision have easily stripped five years of my life, they have opened up the entire rest of it.

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