Warning: Your ‘Wrong Choices’ Might Be Right After All

One of my favorite lines from 90s music is:

The answers we find are never what we had in mind. (Nine Days, “If I Am”)

The things we do as 20-somethings are sometimes what we dreamed of as young kids and as teenagers, but sometimes our lives are so completely “off course” from who we thought we would be, or what we thought we’d be doing, at this point. And what many of us struggle with is finding out if that’s okay or not. We get caught in a tangle of visions and expectations. We get confused… I have a job that I love but I’m not making as much money as my friends from high school; did I make the wrong choice? I’m 29 next month and have never had a long-term romantic relationship; what’s wrong with me? I don’t want to live in my hometown, but everyone else does; why don’t I want to live near my family? What’s wrong with me?

From what I’ve read and the conversations I’ve had with people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and up, that sentiment never stops. There is always a chance for, “blah blah blah… what’s wrong with me?”

So how can we fix that? How can we look ourselves in the eye and say, “There’s nothing wrong with me. This is my life. These are my choices.” If you’re not happy with your choices and they’re leading you down a destructive path, that’s one thing. But if, at the heart of it, you are content with who you are as a person, and who you see yourself being based on the choices you’re making, then there’s nothing wrong with you. No matter the unconventional choices you may think you’re making.

Example: Greg and I have been married for 6 years and 4 months. The first 10 months of our marriage he was in the field (Army); then he deployed for 14 months; then he continued to work 12-16 hour days for a year until we moved. Then I decided to take a short-term EFL teacher position in Japan for 102 days, by myself, leaving my husband back home for a cold & snowy mid-west Winter. Was this a conventional decision? No. Did we face some criticism? Of course. Was it amazing? YES. Was it life-changing? YES. Did my marriage suffer for it? It might have been set back a little bit in terms of communication, since it contributed to our time apart (22 months out of our first 44 months as a married couple), but it wasn’t set back enough that I wish I didn’t go. Greg supported me 100% (he even came to see me for Christmas!), and his support helped give me the courage to follow through on a dream I didn’t even know I had until it was presented to me.

At an Okinawa-themed restaurant, I wore a colorful kimono and “played” a kind-of banjo. January 2010, Gifu City, Japan

Our choices make us who we are, inside and out. And it is not uncommon for a 20-something to be made to feel like he or she is making a wrong choice because it’s unconventional or doesn’t follow a plan. But, my un-plan has been working for me so far. So, if you don’t mind, I’ll continue on my unplanned path, enjoying my adventures and living my life in the fullest ways I know how.

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You tell me:

What makes you feel like you’re living your life to the fullest?

What choices have you made that make you think, “Am I making the wrong choice?” but when analyzed, you remember, “No, I’m not. I like my choices and I like my life.”

What do you think?

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