My Choice Is My Own

January 22, 2011
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I wake up. About ten minutes later, I get out of bed. Dragging my feet to the kitchen, I complain to myself. I hate school, I hate mornings, I hate my mom, my brother, everything really. I’m barely awake enough to go about my routine, much less deal with any serious decision making. But upon opening the pantry, what do I find? Cocoa Pebbles <i>and</i> Lucky Charms?! Decisions, decisions! Being in my current state, I close my eyes and select a box. As satisfied as I can be with my blind choice of Cocoa Pebbles, I add milk and seat myself at the kitchen table, grumbling about dreadful mornings.

Now, wouldn’t it be comforting to know that, even if I had chosen Lucky Charms that morning, I would still end up in heaven after I died? Indeed, it is a comforting thought whenever we are faced with a monumental decision, obviously something more distressing than choosing a breakfast cereal. Whether we’re deciding which college to attend, whether or not to accept a marriage proposal, or if we should jet across the country to take a job offer, we’ve all wished the same thing: that we could be guaranteed happiness regardless of the choices we make.

What we really want is to eliminate bad decisions. Our fear of having regrets and taking responsibility for our choices binds us, leaving us unable to decide. So instead of fighting the mental battle and deciding for ourselves, we hand the task over to someone else, be it Fate, Destiny, or one of the many gods and deities. We edit our beliefs to include the idea that “No matter what I do, I can’t change what’s already decided.” We effectively surrender our free will in exchange for moral consolation.

This terrifies me. It’s not just the thought of giving up control of my life that scares me; it’s the effect that this mindset has on our world. If we believe that life is a road laid out before us with signs pointing us which way to go, we forfeit responsibility and instead lay the blame on the one mapping out the trails. This also means that we can’t blame ourselves for opportunities we passed by. Regrets are meaningless because we know that it couldn’t have happened any other way.

I believe that my choices are just that: choices. I believe that every decision I make, from choosing a cereal to choosing a university, has an immediate impact on my future. Maybe not a large impact, but it affects my life nonetheless. For me, this makes life meaningful. Because if living is just mindlessly wandering along the road laid out before us, then what’s the point of living?

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HisPurePrincess This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 9, 2011 at 3:33 pm
Living is not mindless if you ask God about it.  Yeah, he controls everything and knows what's going to happen, but that's what's going to happen.  We do have free will.  He lets us either follow him or walk away.  I don't fear death, because it's just the door out of this crazy world and into heaven.  I know I'm going to heaven.
Junebug694 replied...
Mar. 9, 2011 at 6:30 pm
See that's the problem I'm having that I'm trying to work through in this essay. If what's going to happen is going to happen no matter what we do then how can we have free will? It's an idea I've been trying to work through for a while. But regardless of the subject matter, I'd like some feedback on how the idea was presented and how clear it was. Any thoughts?
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