Once as a child, I had a piece of eggplant and didn’t like it. I promptly decided that I’m going to hate eggplants for the rest of my life. And then, years later, I went to restaurant and ordered a menu without checking the ingredients and ended up with eggplants in my mouth.
But that wasn’t the annoying part. The annoying part was that I liked it.
Which meant the energy I put into hating it all these years and declaring it to the world was a complete waste. I still can’t say ‘I don’t mind eggplant now’.
If I can be this melodramatic about changing my views about an eggplant, think of the bigger declarations that you make about yourself, to yourself and the world. How will it feel if your mind does a sudden backflip and decides it wants something else?
It will feel really, really uncomfortable. Because your choices, likes and dislikes are your yardsticks for deciding who you are. And it’s also how you present yourself to the world.
The unemployed rebel who will not be caught dead at a conventional 9 to 5 because it clashes with his angsty, anti-establishment philosophies.
The starving actor, who will not act in some television soap because it compromises his self-proclaimed integrity as a ‘serious actor.
The woman who stays on in a bad relationship because the alternative damages the moral ‘commitment-keeper’ view she has of herself.
Or even something as ridiculous as not being social because you’re a Scorpio and everyone knows Scorpios sit in one corner and brood.
Are these people being melodramatic or plain stupid?
Both. But they are also being human.
Once we form a belief about ourselves and wrap our lives around it, we don’t want anything to mess it up. A person will not readily switch careers, leave hometown, end a relationship or speak their mind – because it makes them reconsider who they are, where they stand and what they really want. It worries them about what others will think.
And it forces them to be okay with changing their mind – which isn’t usually considered a good thing.
Here’s the deal. Sticking with something against all odds is a virtue – if that thing really is good for you. On the other hand, sticking with something that makes you miserable, just because you were told you should, is foolishness.
We all have preconceived notions about what we can and cannot do, should and shouldn’t like, is and isn’t right. Because that’s how it has been laid down to us by our parents, neighbors, friends and society. Hence, you’ll hear phrases like “I know what I can or cannot handle”, “That’s for different sort of people, not me”, “This is not how adults go about their lives,” and “I’m just being practical and saving myself from making the wrong choice”.
When the reality is: “I’d like to change my mind. But I’ve been this way for too long. Everyone will notice if I did something different now. I’ll have to explain myself. If I fail I’d be a laughing stock.
What we tend to forget is that there are no universally right or wrong choices! It’s always relative to the person making it.
Just like no one can live your life for you, no one can assess your life for you either! And just like you’re not the same person you were a year back, your choices need not be the same either.
You are the best judge of what’s right for you, RIGHT NOW.
As for being worried about what others will think of you… I have news for you. No one has the time to think about your choices in life. They are too busy dealing with their own. Your loved ones will keep loving you no matter what you do. And as for strangers – do you really care?
Nothing in life is set in stone. So you are free to change your views.