Things Gone and Things Still Here (jette) wrote,
Things Gone and Things Still Here
jette

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See The Niche

In the spirit of advice being a form of nostalgia, I will impart the wisdom that I did not learn until I was in my forties that I wish I had known in my twenties.


When I was in college, I was obsessed with a book called Nadja, about a girl who did nothing because she couldn't stand to kill a choice - the literal definition of "to decide." In the book, it states that Nadja is the first half of the Russian word for hope, but only the first half. Because for anyone who is not a piece of fiction about an ethereal symbol of fleeting beauty, killing a choice is a very good thing indeed. But it can be so hard to do.

There's a lot of so called societal pressure, to find your "right livelihood", to "be the best of that you be," but in truth, there is no such thing as wasting a life, if you're doing it right. Anything you do can truly be your "fullest potential." You DO have to decide - it's an incredible luxury to have a choice, not taking one would be the most wasteful thing imaginable.

However, what you choose does NOT matter.

Have children. Or don't. Go for a brilliant, demanding career. Or not. Find your true love. Or find a life of quiet solitude. It doesn't matter. The important thing is to understand that whatever path you choose, happiness, honor, authenticity, and strength are available to you, in ways that you probably won't understand until after the fact.

See, what matters is not so much where you end up, but what you do once you get there. Do you think Mother Theresa sweated over her college essays, writing about how she "rilly, rilly wanted to help people?" Did Albert Schweitzer contemplate heath disparities policy before med school? Did GC Coleman wake up one morning and say "my goal is to produce the most sampled piece of music in history?"

No. They didn't. They went where life seemed to lead them at the time, saw something that needed doing, did it, and life went somewhere else. Sometimes, like GC, it may take years before anyone notices what you've done, and you may be far past getting any recognition or reward by the time that happens. And that's okay.

We just never know how we will affect people. You've heard that "the best laid plans of mice and men/often go awry" and that "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." The reverse is also true - you may end up building something brilliant while just plodding along. It's outside of your control - your control is in the joy you take in the process, and the quality of what you produce. That's all you're going to get. But, oh, wouldn't it all be so dull otherwise?
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