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The choices we make determine who we are

How do you toughen this particular muscle of choice? By building it up one tendon at a time, by first learning to make tiny choices of your own; of what you choose to wear, to eat, to colour your hair with, and the places you will travel to.

The choices we make determine who we are

Saturday June 13, 2020 , 5 min Read

Life choices

"How we spend our days, of course, is how we spend our lives” Annie Dillard


My husband and I went out for dinner one night (before the lockdown) and he magnanimously offered to let me do the ordering. Given that he is an ardent worshipper at the altar of gourmand-izm and a controlling type of personality, I was quite overwhelmed with this sudden benevolence. Thanking him profusely, I jumped at this rare opportunity and quickly started analysing the menu to figure out what would get the old taste buds tickling.


After some deep thinking I decided that the chicken ra-ra would be ideal as the main dish of the night. In the meanwhile, husband dearest had been surreptitiously peering over my shoulder and tried to divert my attention to the pork ribs which he thought sounded more appetising.


Faced with my vehement protestations he agreeably decided to back off, while still slipping in a surreptitious promotional message on the virtues of the pork preparation. Victoriously I signalled the restaurant manager to come and take the order feeling most thrilled at my minute yet determined act of courage and grit.


Guess what we had that night? Pork ribs!


By the time it took for the manager to reach us, the tables had been turned with one more push back from the leader of our pack of two!


And so, it continues. For a working woman who is managing the travails of climbing up the corporate ladder and juggling home life, each day comes filled with its own version of encounters and skirmishes.


As it is, you are already fed up of trying to make your opinion heard at the workplace meeting where all the alpha males keep talking over you. You are tired of arguing with the parking attendant because yet again he has given your slot away to badda saab because he can’t imagine that you too could be senior enough to merit a parking slot and your mother has once more told you that you should come home earlier than your husband, otherwise it doesn’t look nice. So, you just decide that the battle over chicken versus pork is not just not worth fighting for.


You console yourself with the thought that adjusting is a very womanly virtue and you will be rewarded at the gates of heaven in due course. And you tell yourself that you are conserving your energy to fight the big war. Should the AC be on high or low? The curtains open or drawn? The Sports channel or Netflix tonight? These are small and irrelevant issues in the larger scheme of things, and you convince yourself that they can be largely ignored.


But sliver by sliver you end up conceding more and more territory to all the ‘others’ in your life. Then one fine day you wake up to realise that every decision you thought you had made for yourself was actually embedded inside you by an external force.


Every opinion you ended up agreeing to, was made with one eye on accommodating the larger good and one on balancing everyone’s outlook about you. Till your life becomes a kaleidoscope of other people’s opinions, manifestations and expectations. And just like that, the muscle, which ensures you make your own choices, atrophies and dies.


Originally and sometime in the hazy past, you do remember moments when you had begun by making your preferences clear; the first time, then the second time and even the third. But after you were repeatedly ignored or talked over or disregarded, you just gave up.


However, the truth is that this is exactly the muscle you need to strengthen, if you want to have no regrets in life, If, you want to dance to a tune of your own making and write in indelible ink, your own destiny. So how do you toughen this particular muscle of choice? By building it up one tendon at a time, by first learning to make tiny choices of your own; of what you choose to wear, to eat, to colour your hair with, and the places you will travel to.


And then slowly as it starts strengthening and you get comfortable with holding the reins of your life, you start picking up the bigger weights of decision making, one pound at a time. What will you study? Where will you work and stay, who will you marry, when will you change your job? Will you have kids or no? One or half a dozen?


Each of these have to be choices you make, out of your own free will and based on the design you have crafted for your life. That’s the point when you will become truly independent and what’s more, you will have begun the journey which will have ‘No Regrets’ stamped firmly on it!


Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)