When decisions are a tough thing to make

Many of my friends say I’m living the life because I get to travel a lot. But the curse of being a nomad is that you lose some valuable opportunities in exchange of constantly moving from one place to another. My decision to live in Indonesia came with a price. Apart from letting go of a promising career to pursue my graduate studies here, it also meant estranged relationships and a lost opportunity to see my grandmother again (may she rest in peace).

Needless to say, moving to Indonesia was a decision which was a hard thing to make. We all go through that moment at some point. Should we keep inventing ourselves each day, or shouldn’t we just get that stable job to pay the rent. Should I work abroad for a better pay (but away from my family) or should I just work in my home country (but with a lesser pay)? And often, you run to your friend for some advice. But neither your friend knows the answer, too!

Which is why I cringe giving advices. And, truth be told, I wish that people choose independently, that they use reason to arrive at decision.

Two years ago, I came across Ruth Chang’s TED Talk, where she shared some important points when we make tough choices. Her talk centred on the idea that no choice is better than another, that they are not measurable like mass. This reminds me of Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being which questions the duality of lightness and burden (Is lightness really positive and burden deplorable?).

Here are some of the points she raised in her TED Talk:

  • When we make hard choices, we wholeheartedly become the people that we are
  • Hard choices are not a curse; they are precious opportunities for us to celebrate what is special about the human condition.
  • Instead of looking for reasons out there, we should be looking for reasons inside. Who am I to be?
  • The decision is really up to you. People who don’t exercise their capacity to make hard choices allow the world (or their parents) to write the story about their lives.
  • The choices we make are based on our worlds of value that’s far different from the worlds of science — because our values can’t be represented by numbers, that one alternative is greater, less, or equal to the other.
  • Hard choices are hard because there is no best option.

Having said that Chang reminds me of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, here are some quotes from the book:

“There is no means of testing which decision is better, because there is no basis for comparison.”

“Chance and chance alone has a message for us. Everything that occurs out of necessity, everything expected, repeated day in and day out, is mute.”

“The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfilment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become.”

“There is no perfection, only life.”

“Human time does not turn in a circle; it runs ahead in a straight line.”

“And what can life be worth if the first rehearsal for life is life itself?”

Have a wonderful weekend! Please don’t forget to share this post.


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