Life Isn’t Fair So Your Choices Better Be Good


Today’s blog post might rub some people the wrong way but I hope you’ll understand as you read it that this comes from a place of compassion & concern for my fellow man.  (Yes, I consider myself a feminist but I truly don’t see anything wrong with using masculine pronouns when referring to all of humanity because frankly it just sounds better.)  Something I’ve been thinking about a lot this year is the impact of choices on our lives.  A lot has changed in my life in the past two years.  For example, I’ve graduated from college, become a nurse, gotten married, and moved to a new state, and in just the past nine months I’ve bought a house, a puppy, and a very nice used car and started serving as a preceptor and a charge nurse at work.  These are, in my mind, all good changes but change is inevitably difficult at times and, at least for me, leads to a lot of introspection and general analysis of life.  In the past year such introspection and analysis have continually landed me on the same theme: the importance of making good choices in life and the consequences that arise when we fail to make good choices.

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Let me first say that I am fully aware that what I consider to be good choices and what someone else considers to be good choices may be completely different.  And with very few exceptions I am totally okay with that.  But if there is one thing I can safely say I know to be true in life, it is that we are each responsible for our own lives and the choices we make, and said choices are the greatest determinant of our own happiness and success.  I know that I have accomplished a lot for someone my age and I am very much aware of the fact that I have a lot of people to thank for helping me along the way to where I am now.  But I also realize that all the help in the world would have been useless if I hadn’t also made my own good choices (getting good grades in high school which allowed me to apply for and obtain a scholarship to college, seeking out internships and jobs in college that helped me obtain a good job after graduation, etc, etc, you get the point).  Please understand that I am not trying to brag or say that I am more successful or better than anyone else.  I am well aware that my own idea of success and happiness does not apply to everyone and vice versa.  I am just saying that when I think about the miserable situations I see so many people in, including many my own age, I can’t help but notice that all (or at least most) of these people have made a series of bad choices throughout their lives.  Let me further explain so I hopefully don’t sound like one of those god-awful judgmental pricks that annoy me so much.

I’m talking about the people who are working dead-end jobs with no hope of advancement who can barely pay their bills (or can’t pay them), who are in miserable relationships with people who treat them like trash, etc, etc; I think you catch my drift.  These people are usually the ones who dropped out of high school (and not because they had to take care of a dying relative or something like that), got pregnant in high school or maybe shortly thereafter and often with someone they did not exactly have a solid relationship with, or perhaps graduated from high school but with such poor grades that college or even technical school was never an option.  These folks probably did not think about the future beyond tomorrow and never exactly planned out a career or any sort of goals for their lives.  The homeless are another good example.  I have always had a special place in my heart for the homeless for some reason but when I look at most of the homeless people I’ve met or known about (I did a clinical rotation with the homeless in nursing school and actually got the privilege of talking to a lot of homeless folks) I’ve noticed again the same pattern: bad choices.  For some it was drugs, for some it was gambling, for some it was having too many children whom they couldn’t afford to support, and the list goes on and on.  Even many of my patients at work whose lives are miserable due to disease are often in the positions they’re in largely because of poor choices they’ve made: failing to control diseases that could be controlled or even eradicated through proper diet & exercise, etc, etc.  It’s hard to watch because you know that these people could have had better outcomes if they’d made better choices.  It’s a very complicated subject, but it’s the truth nonetheless.

Let me be clear here: BY NO MEANS do I think we should not be compassionate or helpful to those who have made poor choices.  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  My point is that the greatest lesson I hope to teach my future children is that they better have their act together from day one because life is not fair.  For example, lots of people have unprotected sex in high school.  But not everyone ends up with some disgusting STI or gets pregnant.  But some do.  AND YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHICH ONE YOU WILL BE.  Lots of people drive drunk and never hurt anyone.  But others do.  AND YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHICH ONE YOU WILL BE.  Lots of people smoke cigarettes their whole lives and never get lung cancer or COPD.  But many do.  AND YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHICH ONE YOU WILL BE.  I think you can see my point.  If there’s anything I know about life it’s that it isn’t fair.  Some people make one or two bad choices and their whole lives crumble around them.  Others make a lot of bad choices and don’t seem to suffer as much.  But in my limited experience those I’ve seen consistently make good choices have ALWAYS been better off because of it.

So if/when I have kids someday, these are the things I’m going to teach them:

Stay in school.  Get good grades.  Work hard at everything you do.  When you get a job, be the best because otherwise you will just be a drone like everyone else.  Make yourself stand out.  Don’t be afraid to reach for the stars.  Go to college or vocational school and plan a career where you can both support yourself and be happy.  Never have unprotected sex with anyone unless you are 100% ready to be a parent RIGHT NOW.  Be kind to everyone because you never know what battles others are fighting that you know nothing about.  Karma is real and whatever choices you make, good or bad, they WILL catch up with you sooner or later, and you better be prepared for the outcomes of your decisions.  I will teach them all these things because I will love them and want the best for them, just as my parents did for me.

Perhaps I will never become a parent (who knows), but nonetheless I will strive to teach these things to my nieces and nephews, my patients, and anyone else who is willing to listen.  Because I care.  As much as the world sometimes makes me feel cynical and cold, I do love people.  Life is crazy.  People are crazy.  But I love this life that I’ve made for myself (with the help of some great friends and family) and I want others to be able to share in the kind of happiness I’ve found.  I don’t mean that everyone needs to have my exact lifestyle, education, or career.  I just wish for everyone to find that passion for life and learning that I’ve found.  I like to think it’s contagious, and I hope that I can spread it around just through this blog post if nothing else.

I hope this post hasn’t come across as arrogant or rude.  That’s not how I meant it at all.  I just wanted to share the idea that choices really are important in our lives, and especially with a new year just around the corner it’s something I think we all need to take to heart.  I know that many people are great testaments to the fact that sometimes a bad decision can actually end up being a good thing (lots of teen moms would agree with this).  And there is a lot of truth in that too.  And not every person who makes all good decisions is necessarily going to be completely happy.  Again, everyone’s idea of happiness and success is different.  And that’s ok.  We each must find our own barometer for happiness and success, and then make good choices that align with that.  Otherwise we are just drifting along in life with no paddle to steer us toward any goals, hopes, or dreams.  And I can’t think of much sadder than that.

A Student of Life


Essentially my entire memorable life I have thought of myself principally as a student. Being a student is what I have always been good at. I was one of those really weird kids who actually enjoyed school & not just the part about seeing friends or playing kickball in gym class. Actually, I usually hated gym class unless I got lucky & had some good friends to suffer through it with me. But that’s a side note. I actually really liked going to class, reading my textbooks, & sometimes even writing papers.  My point is I have always loved learning. It’s what inspires me & feeds my insatiable curiosity about life.

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So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that since graduating from college & no longer officially being a student I often find myself feeling a bit adrift in life. Of late I see more & more of my friends going back to school including many of my nursing school classmates. When I see these things I hate to admit it but I am quite jealous for I fear that I am falling behind. After all I graduated at the top of my class in both high school & college, so I always thought I would be the first person (or one of the first I should say) to go back to school for an advanced degree.  After all I went to nursing school with the sole intention of becoming an NP, preferably within five to ten years of graduating. Well, here I am two years into my nursing career & I find that the last thing I want to do right now is go back to school & that I have no idea if becoming an NP is what I actually want. Yes, bedside nursing is far from the perfect world that nursing school tries to portray, but I am pleasantly surprised to find that I really do love this career, more than I actually I anticipated I would. And I am really quite good at it! As much as I often doubt myself, deep down I know I’m a great nurse. I wouldn’t be serving as a charge nurse and a preceptor if I weren’t.  I don’t want to be a bedside nurse forever but I don’t want a “desk” nursing job either, so basically I have no idea where my career is going which is both scary & refreshing.  Is it even normal to think about such things at 24?

I like to think that since I am no longer an official student at any school/university, I am now a student of life. And I guess what life is teaching me right now is that life isn’t a competition, at least not with anyone other than yourself. And if in my heart I don’t feel this is the right time for me to go back to school, then it isn’t the right time. And it’s ok. Yes, I still may feel a twinge of regret when I see colleagues or friends “advancing” beyond me in their careers, but no, I do not have to wallow in guilt over feeling that way. So many people have told me “Go back to school before you have kids. Do it as soon as you can!” In so many ways I know that would be the easier path, & yet I find myself day dreaming much more often about becoming a mom than about becoming an NP. This is quite jarring for me because even as a kid I always fancied myself as more of a “career woman” who might eventually “settle down into mommyhood.” Indeed it’s only in the past year that I have started truly desiring to have children at all. And it’s still a pretty far-off wish. I know I’m not ready right now, & yet the idea of going back to school even in the next few years strikes fear in my heart. That sounds ridiculous in light of how much I really do love learning. But it’s the truth. I spent so many years of my life devoting myself so fully to school & I have no regrets over that (well, no serious ones). Thus I am inclined to wonder if perhaps my mind is just seeking a different path for a while. So I am writing this as a way of trying to make peace with myself over the idea that “just” being a student of life for a few (or maybe even a lot) more years is more than adequate.

I’m a big believer in technology & the ways that it enriches our lives. For example, one of my dearest friends lives in England & if it weren’t for the Internet we would not even know each other at all, much less communicate on an almost daily basis. But the downside to modern-day technology is that things like Facebook & Pinterest (the latter of which I refuse to join for this very reason) make it very easy for us to get caught up in comparing our lives with everyone else, everything from our hair & clothes to our homes, careers, & children. Such comparisons inevitably lead to depression, anxiety, or general dissatisfaction with our own lives. It’s the rat race on steroids. I’m not suggesting we need to forgo these technologies in order to be satisfied with our own lives. But I do have to remind myself often that the only person whose opinion of my life truly counts at the end of the day is ME. And I cannot base my life decisions on what other people are doing or what is right for them at a certain point in their life.

When I think back on all of the major decisions in my life (where to go to college, getting married, applying for & accepting jobs, buying our house, etc), I’ve always had a certain inexplicable sense of just knowing that I was making the right choice at the right time. I wish I could explain it scientifically but I can’t. With that in mind I am slowly learning to rest in the knowledge that when I’m ready to go back to school I’ll just know. And when I’m ready to become a mom I’ll just know. And it doesn’t really matter in what order those things happen for one of the greatest lessons I have learned as a student of life is this: There is no one right path for everyone. And that is what makes life so beautiful. As my Psychology 101 professor once said “Some things in life are not good or bad, better or worse. Only different.”