I’ve been thinking about choices a lot lately. Who I choose to be around, how I choose to live my life, my career choices.
And I’ve thought about how, it’s so easy to feel regret towards the choices we’ve made. It’s also easy to feel regret towards the choices others have made and how they have affected us.
But as I thought about this, I realised that this is where accountability comes into play.
We can umm and ahh all we like about our choices. We can mull over whether the one we are making is the right one. We can spend years thinking if time could go back, we would’ve made different choices.
But the reality is, we can’t live life going over everything that has already happened. We need to take accountability for the choices we make and know that we did what we felt was right at the time.
When I was a young child getting raped repeatedly, I didn’t have a choice.
That choice was taken away from me. My innocence was taken away from me.
I didn’t have a first time that was special. I wasn’t able to give myself freely to someone, someone that I trusted, someone that I loved.
But since that incredibly traumatic period of my life, I have chosen to continue embracing life.
A few weeks ago, I caught up with some of my lovely friends. I hadn’t seen them since I’d left my last job. We spent hours having a good laugh over cocktails and talking about anything and everything – from child abuse to parenting to work.
And one of the ladies said to me, “I don’t know how you do it. How you are the way you are after everything you’ve been through. You’re such an inspiration!”
The rest of the ladies agreed with me and looked at me in such awe.
I replied, “I guess my attitude has always been – you don’t always get to choose the cards you’re dealt in life. But you can choose how you play them.”
And what I told these lovely ladies is exactly how I have lived my whole life.
Every morning, when I head to work on the bus, I don’t treat my bus driver like he’s just my bus driver. I sit near him and I talk to him. I ask him how he is. I talk to him about the afterlife. About his previous work. About my work. About his health. About his love for baking.
That’s also why one of the highlights from my work day is meeting up with someone who works in the same building as me. Through sheer luck, we headed to work at the same time one morning and got chatting and realised we were both heading to the same place! Since then, we try to navigate our lunch schedules around each other so we can sit and have deep and meaningful conversations. He expresses disappointment when we can’t have lunch at the same time!
That’s also why when I was a young child, a teenager, a young adult – I always made time for the dying old lady at the hospital, the loner at school who didn’t have many friends, the substitute teacher who had nobody to talk to.
I choose to find meaningful connections with people, no matter where I am. Even at my local supermarket.
People are people – regardless of what their job occupation is, the mistakes they’ve made in life, the challenges they are still overcoming.
A lot of people ask me how I kept the secret of child sexual abuse hidden for 20 years. How I dealt with it on my own and continued to have such a positive perspective on life. The answer is quite simple.
Don’t focus on the things you don’t have. Don’t focus on the pain of the past. Don’t focus on the people who have hurt you.
But do be grateful for what you do have.
Be grateful that whatever negative experience you have been through, that it has helped you to grow and shaped you into the strong person that you are.
Be grateful that if you are not where or who you want to be …. that every day is still a valuable opportunity to change that.