All choices matter.
My biggest regret is precisely the same as the best choice I ever made. That one decision brought excitement, energy, and purpose into my life. That same decision also shut other doors of opportunity.
In sophomore and junior year of college, I started to ask myself what was to come after I got my degree. I had no idea. I wasn't alone. When I asked classmates what they were hoping to do, I got many passionate responses. Some said they were headed to graduate school. Those were the people really interested in math, physics, and hard sciences and who had a strong attraction to these disciplines. I imagine that they looked upon specific problems in the world and committed themselves to study fixes. Maybe these are the kind of people who spent hours reading, studying, building things. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy absorbing complex material for many hours. Ironic, I know.
I thought maybe I would do some teaching at the middle or High School level. I could continue singing, dancing, and acting and try to scrounge up a living starving artist style. I studied the soft sciences like psychology and sociology, but most of the jobs led to research. I had no desire to spend all day staring at a computer screen analyzing data and writing papers.
The dream is free... but the journey will cost you something. ~John C Maxwell
As I said, I had no idea what I wanted to do. So my biggest regret is not leaning into that feeling. I turned my back on freedom. My life could have been much different. What if, after graduation, I found a reasonably well-paying job and moved back home to Indianapolis. I wonder if, eventually, I would have tried a business venture that could have really taken off. I regretted not taking time when my responsibilities were few to find myself as many new college grads do.
Instead, I copped out of the challenge of self-exploration and started on a well-defined path to medicine. The sad part is that I did that out of fear. I did it because I lacked passion for anything else. I thought to myself, "Well, I may as well become a doctor. I'm smart enough, and I think I'll be good at it."
Although medical school has been the best gift to buy myself, it was also the biggest curse. The path is so strict that I've spent nine years of my life doing my best to execute a plan someone else had laid out for me. During those nine years, I experienced the most growth in my life, but my growth in other ways was stunted. I sacrificed my freedom, my passion, and the joy of discovery for an age-old career. Opportunity costs are very real.
Now I'm making up for last time. I have job security, which gives me the confidence to try something new. But the high-paying job, the wife, and the house all come with responsibility. I can't sacrifice all of that to explore my passions. It's a catch 22.
All of our decisions have consequences. Even good decisions have unforeseen consequences. I never thought I would regret not taking more time to discover myself. I saw the safety of my career path but did not realize I was rejecting the gifts of exploration. There is always an opportunity cost. When we choose one way, doors often close in others. That's life, and we can't avoid it but what we can do is ask ourselves ten years in the future, will I regret not having done this. We can ask our wise loved ones what they would do.
We all have regrets. Try to understand the feelings behind yours but don't dwell. Just do better next time.
After watching death creep into my patient's eyes, looking death in the eyes of my patience on a daily basis, and having life and limb in my hand, waking up not knowing what I wanted to do the next day feels like bliss.
I was too cautious; I was too conservative to predictable and by the book. I was very risk avoidance and feared the consequences of mistakes. This is why being a doctor was a safe bet, although it took a lot of work and a lot of preparation.
Here are your doctor's orders.
Remember that you are the curator of your own life experience. Despite your situation, you have the ability to make a change for the better.
Every choice has an opportunity cost. Even good decisions mean you're missing something else. Opportunity costs are actual, measurable costs.
Until next time my people.