Duality: The Danger of Choice

I’m in a bad relationship. An acrid, toxic affair of pain and puppetry. Every day, I’m made to endure things I hate, as I sit trapped and numb, shackled by pretense and perception. In this involuntary dance, I am the follower, forced to keep in step with my arrogant lead, dancing predictable steps in a rage induced routine. This relationship must end. It’s time to break up with my false self.

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You see, if you don’t pursue what you really want in life, and instead live a fake story, the inner conflict will rip your soul in two. It’s like your walking the paved pathway that safely and symmetrically cuts through untrodden pastures, but you’re also walking a giant Doberman. A huge strong dog who just wants to run free in the long grass, take the path less travelled. You yank and pull desperately at the dog’s leash trying to snuff his flame of desire and have him conform, but it’s tiring. Eventually, you need to either let the dog off his leash or run into the long grass with him.

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One problem in life now is choices. We normally consider choice a great thing. We think we love having options and the freedom to make decisions along different paths. However, in reality, choice can be dangerous. Studies have shown that people who have choices often experience greater regret and unhappiness than those who had no choice and instead, had to accept the consequences of a ‘no refunds’ style decision. Choice can breed regret and unhappiness. Not only can choice lead to confusion and regret, it can also subdue us. Having an easy choice over a difficult one is a no brainer. However, often in life, it’s the difficult choices that reap the greatest rewards. As so eloquently put by Robert Brault:

“We are kept from our path not by obstacles but by a clearer path to a lesser goal”

Story of my life.

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So often, our soul desires something big. Something life-changing and incredible. Something you can be passionate about. However, these sorts of seemingly lofty dreams aren’t always vocational pursuits. They require a lot more. Yet, we’re often presented with easier options. A job that pays decent money and offers security over the uncertainty of taking a risk to achieve our dreams. The path to a ‘lesser goal’ presents itself with arrogant clarity and security leaving you to question your dreams and even convince yourself, for a time, that you really want that shitty goal.

What then happens, we sit in our shitty safe goal and we bear it. But the sweet whisper of discontent will haunt you. Your dreams won’t simply go away. Your soul will yearn for what you really want and this results in a very unhealthy duality. Like my bad ‘relationship’ you’ll be split in two. Living a fake life while really wanting something more.

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Stuck in a shitty lesser goal?

There’s a lot of ‘motivation porn’ on the internet these days. Images of sunsets overlayed with text screaming shallow insincere messages from Facebook walls around the world. A lot of these say things like… “Find what you love and then get someone to pay you to do it”. Sure. I mean that’s great in theory right? However, particularly in creative industries, it’s a lot more complicated.

What’s worse is that there’s always the constant distraction of people who want to pay you money for what you DON’T love. No matter how sold on your ambitions you are, it’s very hard to turn away someone who wants to pay you for what you’re not really passionate about while you hang out and wait for someone to come along and pay you for what you really love to do.

Some people are lucky. You’ve seen them. They’re in offices everywhere. The ones who stay behind late working on Excel spreadsheets when you want to go home. The one’s wanting that conference call at 9pm on a Friday night. I used to look at these people and feel sorry for them. Now, I actually envy them. I would love to be passionate enough about a corporate job that I’m able to commit to such things. Such people look at others who leave the office on time and probably doubt their commitment and work ethic.

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However, the people leaving on time are usually the ones who are going home to work on their project, update their blog, edit their photos, fly their drone or do whatever it is they REALLY love… How fucking sad really. Sad because these people spend 9 hours a day doing something they don’t care about but get paid for, only to then get home and spend a few hours on what they really love for nothing but the sheer pleasure.

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You see, perhaps they’ve been caught by the clear path to a lesser goal. Trapped within salary, security, and slavery that pays the bills but leaves the soul empty.

So what’s the answer? Well, I’m still trying to work that out myself. If I knew the answer, I may not have spent 17 years managing call centres and instead focused on writing and photography much sooner! However, the problem now is actually that we have too much choice. It’s become too easy to explore different paths in life. This causes problems for two reasons.

  1. FOMO – The ‘Fear of Missing Out’. Having multiple options available causes you to constantly doubt if you’ve picked the right choice. This leads to the ‘grass is always greener’ syndrome and an increase in people leaving jobs, industries, and careers to pursue something else, only to come back – myself included – Training & Quality Manager to Police Officer then back to Training & Quality Manager.
  2. We get stuck in, what was meant to be, a temporary option. This happens when we’re presented with many choices and, unable to be sure, we choose one “for now”, only to get caught up in the security of a role and before we know it, we’re senior managers in a role we’re not passionate about.

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If you’re lucky and end up completely on the wrong path, the hand of fate may just intervene in interesting ways but, that’s usually only if you’re listening to it and honest with yourself about how you feel, so that you can be in-tune with the signs the universe is giving you.

So, I think the simple yet complex and difficult answer is to take risks. If you think the grass is greener, then jump the fence, lie and roll in it and check it out. But, once you find what you really love, once you discover what you’re really passionate about – do not deny your souls desires – because it’s a dangerous and tormenting place to be! So, start making steps (even baby ones) to following your dreams and ditching the shitty ‘lesser goal’, no matter how clear the path is.

Easier said than done? Perhaps… Perhaps not?


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*Cover image: Duality by touchedbyred

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