I was listening to the radio the other day, and the show hosts were asking people about the best decisions they ever made. Something came to mind right away. I pushed it aside, thinking surely there was something else.
But then I thought about it. Most decisions that turn out really, really well end up being more blind luck than careful planning. And most decisions that change your life are just a fluke. You smile at that cute guy and end up marrying him. Someone mentions a job opening and you find your dream career.
I love my current job. It’s absolutely perfect for me. And I agonized about whether to take it. I had another job offer that seemed better and I remember standing in an airport bookstore after my interview, skimming the self-help books about making decisions. After careful thought and consideration, I decided to take this job because the other one would require me to take the bus downtown, walk past the methadone clinic, go down the street where the homeless guy spit in my eye that one time, and get to the other side of the public restroom that has a door that flings open after fifteen minutes in a fruitless attempt to discourage its use as a drug haven.
Not my finest shining career moment, but it worked out OK.
I also love my current career. Did I research all the jobs out there and interview people in the career and do an internship to make sure I liked it and explore every option? No. I was nearing the end of college and realized that I was about to end up with an English degree, of all things. What the hell was I thinking? And then I saw that the company I was working for had an opening in their corporate office. This job had three things going for it:
- It involved writing.
- It required experience I actually had.
- It was the only job I was remotely qualified for, and was the only job offer I got.
That third thing really cinched it for me.
I chose a good school though, right? Well, I had gotten accepted into my dream school and had picked my classes, had a dorm room, had exchanged letters with my roommate. I had nearly a full scholarship, and only needed to come up with about $1500. My parents were moving across the state right after my high school graduation, so I had arranged to stay with my best friend for the summer and work full time so I’d have the money.
Only at the last minute, my mom decided that since I wasn’t 18, I had to live at home until I went to college and I had to move with them and thus had no job and no $1500. And if you think my parents gave and/or loaned me the money, you’ve probably never met them. So, I ended up doing a super-late application to a nearby school that was just as good as my school of choice, a school I specifically did not apply to because I didn’t like someone who went there, and I got in with a full scholarship and had an excellent education. But I wouldn’t necessarily call that a result of good choices.
None of these things came to mind when I thought about my best decision. What came to mind was deciding to get a divorce. Which looks ugly and horrible typed up. Because it still, after all that therapy, seems wrong to me that it could ever be the right decision. And it was so fucking hard to do something that seemed so wrong. But it changed my life in ways that all those other decisions didn’t. Because it changed who I am, inside. It changed who I can be. I don’t have to live my life for other people. It’s OK to do things that make me happy. I was on this unstoppable train that had jumped the tracks and was plummeting down a mountain. I tried to stop the train. I kept thinking, if only I could stop the train and get it going in another direction, everything would be OK. But I couldn’t stop it. That was the hardest thing. Realizing I couldn’t stop it. And if I didn’t want to keep going that direction, I had to get off the train.
So, I jumped.
I jumped even though I couldn’t see beyond the train, couldn’t see where I would fall, didn’t know how I would move without the train.
And it was the best decision I ever made.