This is not the post I would have liked to officially started out with for this blog, but my weekend really made me think about how much the choices we make affect everything in our lives. It also made me realize that we will always have to make these choices out of an infinite number of possibilities, and while one choice may have led to something very different than another, it would not have been the better choice or the worse choice; it just would not have been the same choice.
I played in an ultimate frisbee tournament this weekend under unusual circumstances. I won't go into detail, but the team I played with was one of two teams at the tournament from the college my ex-boyfriend goes to, and not only do I know a lot of people on the team from when I was dating him, but it was the first time I had seen him in two years.
We went to very different schools to get our educations. I go to DePaul, in the middle of Chicago, which is in part a liberal arts college and in part a technical/business school. School spirit isn't really a cohesive thing, and my friends are scattered all over Chicago. I don't live on campus and am generally only there for classes, going to the gym, and frisbee practice. He just graduated from a small, liberal arts college in a small town in Iowa where the school is your whole world and there are a lot more opportunities to get involved within the school and there is a much bigger spirit of solidarity. Chances are you also know most people there, whereas at DePaul I know very few in comparison to how many go there.
Hanging out with this group of people from this school for the weekend brought me back to thoughts I have had many times before, 'What if?' thoughts such as, 'What if I had applied to more schools?' or 'What if I had known then what I do now? Would I do it all over again the same way?' Or, more specifically to this situation, 'What if I had gone to the same college as my boyfriend? Where would we be now?' This last one is more because he has been dating someone for almost 2.5 years now and they are clearly headed for marriage. This is totally crazy to me and I will talk about that in a different post, but it's very strange to think that that could have been me. With him or with my more recent ex-boyfriend. And then I think about how maybe I wouldn't find that so crazy if I had made any one different choice in my life and what it comes down to is that it is futile to reflect on the 'what if's' because they are infinite in number.
Hindsight is an interesting perspective but a poor way to judge the decisions you have made in the past, because without those decisions, you can't know if you would be the same person judging in the same way.
There will always be something left undone because there are endless possibilities.
It is rare for me that periods of my past come back and replay themselves so vividly to me as they did this weekend, but I am happy that it happened because it helped me to understand something about comparisons, time, and growing up:
Different is not better or worse, it is just different.
This is a hard concept for me to grasp, but this weekend was a great example. I was able to make a comparison and understand the duality of the decision I had made four years ago to attend a college in a city. While I may be missing out a bit on that sense of community and opportunity to get involved with more things I enjoy more easily, I also have never felt trapped in too small of an area with not enough new faces or goings on. I won't have belonged to a school that prides itself on being nerdy and unique but I have had the opportunity to really live, work, and exist within the city of Chicago. For comparison sake lets say that I may have stayed in love with my high school boyfriend and played with him on a very established ultimate team, but then I wouldn't have had the opportunity to fall in (and out again) of love with someone very different from him and from myself, or the experience of starting the women's team at DePaul.
Neither one decision would have been better than the other. There were advantages and disadvantages to both, but it is impossible to truly imagine my life now without the experiences of the past three years.
I know that I would have been happy either way, and in the end I have no other choice but to be
glad of the decision that I made, because I am happy with who I am now. I've learned that I must accept and embrace all that I have done in the past and all that I am doing right now, and that instead of spending any time focusing on all of the decisions I could have made, I will use my time exploring all of the options still ahead of me with the knowledge that even if something is different, that doesn't make it a better or worse idea. It's just different.
- We will always have choices to make that will affect the rest of our lives.
- 'What if' thoughts waste time and energy; they are infinite in number and what's done is done. With the ways our minds work, the only way to look is forward.
- Understanding the duality of a decision is a big step in learning to accept difference withouth endless comparison. Knowing that there are advantages and disadvantages to any decision and being okay with that is key in living a full life without regret.
- We must accept and love every part of our self and decisions we have made up to this point, even ones we are less than happy about.
- Quit making comparisons between yourself and others, or between decisions you made and could have made. There is no such thing as better or worse. Just different.