making choices and making mistakes - deciding what matters in 2021
Sometime last week, a trip to the optometrist finally laid to rest all the questions I had had these past several months (since March actually, since the beginning of the pandemic lockdown here) about the incessant headaches and phases of blurry vision I'd been having.
Armed with a prescription for reading glasses, I went shopping. Pretty soon after we entered the eyewear shop, I came upon a pair of Roots frames that I liked. A translucent brown with more than a hint of purple. I tried on a few other frames but my heart was set on this one.
Easy-peasy, I thought.
The sales lady was at the counter, in the process of drawing up a bill for this imminent purchase, when she suggested I look at another frame called Silhouette. I don't much care for brand names, and as I had already decided upon the Roots frame, I wasn't even inclined to look at alternatives initially. (In fact, I asked her if 'Silhouette' was the name of the shape of the frame and she had to inform me it is the name of a brand!)
But a closer look did reveal some merits that the Silhouette frame had over the Roots one. Lightweight, better fit on my face, and also a more vibrant shade of purple, which KrA thought was 'too much', but which stood out as lively and colourful to me. (Earlier on, the saleslady had shown me several frames that made me look severe and formal, and I am so done trying to fit into that mould that I rejected those proposed frames without second thought.)
But when it came to choosing between the mature-looking Roots frame with just a hint of colour and the flashy Silhouette frame with its bold purple that appealed to me, I spent twenty agonising minutes deciding which one to buy. KrA wisely reminded me that what seems like a momentous choice right now won't really have much bearing on my usage a couple of weeks from now.
I eventually made my choice and we left the shop, but the drive back was excruciating as I kept worrying I may have had made the wrong choice. At one point, I asked KrA to turn around so I could go back to the shop to change my purchase. He refused. Of course. Besides, visits are by appointment only these days given the ongoing lockdown for the pandemic. So it wasn't as if we could simply saunter back into the shop.
By the time we reached home, about 10-15 minutes after we had left the shop, I decided I was going to love my new frames. The salesperson had suggested we take photos of me wearing different frames, and sure enough looking at my pics in different frames had proved helpful in making a decision. I looked through the pics again at home and realised that I had indeed made a choice based on what had appealed to me.
We have strayed so far away from trusting our instincts that we've forgotten there is no wrong choice.
But this is hard to do so especially when the world is filled with experts touting advice that begins with statements like "I made these mistakes so you won't have to." Making mistakes has become tantamount to foolishness. We want to be so sure that the path we set out on, the choices we make will eventually lead us to some semblance of success. We need that guarantee so badly that in its absence, we are willing to settle for short-term assurances instead of lifelong adventure.
Perhaps we should stop looking to avoid mistakes, stop labelling events that don't have the desired outcome as mistakes, and accept each experience and outcome as a learning experience. Even when we are 'successful', there are lessons to be gleaned from the experience.
Thinking on these lines helped me solve another long-time dilemma I had had about my writing and publishing goals this year. In June this year, I had decided to discontinue the weekly short fiction I had been posting on and off since beginning to do so way back in December 2011. Yet, just two days ago, I was very tempted to resume the project and was unable to decide one way or the other.
The incident at the spectacle shop helped me realise that it's better to stick to a decision until the end than dither to and fro and remain in a state of abeyance, of stagnation.
In his Successful Indie Author Five-Minute Focus video (Episode 85), Craig Martelle talks about how 'unrealistic expectations' and 'the wrong goal' hold us back among other factors. He says, for instance, if you want to build a newsletter mailing list, shouldn't you have something to offer (like a book) to your subscribers? That hit the nail on the head for me.
I now have my goals in place for this year, and resuming 'Tales for D' on the website is a strict no-no for me this year. I have other writing and publishing goals to achieve in 2021.
I will post on this blog weekly or fortnightly as it serves as a record of how I am faring on this journey. Sometimes the optimism of my past posts pulls me out of a funk. Recording my journey thus gives me a sense of progress and also helps me put things in perspective.
Only last week I was lamenting about a constant sense of discontentment, and how I once again fell in the trap of making a choice and doubting myself the entire time I was on that path. I checked my word count tracker shortly after, and the disheartening week that spurred my previous post had turned out to be my most productive in a long time. So much for thinking that taking on the well-paying editing job was stealing hours from my writing time.
Another thought had been bugging me for a while. I was terrified that it is too late. Too late to start building a career as an author entrepreneur. And I came across this quote:
Time will pass whether you do something with it or not.
If I decide today not to keep going on this journey, in exactly a year from now I'd find myself in the same place with respect to my writing and publishing work. But if I decide today to keep going, I'd have certainly written more and published more by December 31, 2021, than I have as of today.
A year from now, would I regret not having had a full-time job or would I regret not having pursued my ambition to be an author entrepreneur? The answer, to me, is extremely straightforward.
So here I am, toasting the arrival of a new year. My only wish is to remain authentic to myself and stay focused on the very few things I hold dear: D, KrA, and my writing. As for you, dear reader, I really wish you find the courage to live more authentically, truer to yourself.
Before I sign off, I'll tell you how I settled the debate of which spectacle frame to choose. I asked myself which frame I'd regret not buying. The answer was crystal clear. I finally chose the boldly pink/purple Silhouette frame. Every time I look at the pictures we took in the shop with me wearing the gorgeous frame, my heart sings. Not because I made a 'right choice' but because I made a choice that 'felt right' to me at the time and I have chosen to enjoy the outcome of it. Perhaps that is what it means 'to make the right choice'!
Attribution: Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash