Perhaps now, more than ever, it’s incredibly easy to make decisions that will have various impacts on our lives. We are flooded with choices and options and different ways to go about things. Making a decision about dinner or what movie to see is as easy as batting an eye, but it's also not the kind of decision making I'm talking about. I mean the nitty-gritty, life altering stuff we don't really like to think about because it's scary. And darn right it's scary, nothing is more frightening than making a decision that could follow you for years to come. That's the kind of discussion I want to have with you, about the kinds of decisions that seem terrifyingly easy to make, and abominably difficult to alter.
For example, lots of us drive, and by extension, need a car. My dad once told me that the easiest thing I'd ever do is buy a car, but I'd better be damn sure it’s the one I want, and if not I'd see why. For the most part, he was right. Buying a car was easy. I mean really easy: you find one you like, pay the person for it, sign some papers, and you're pretty much good to go. You've just made a big decision and probably a fairly large investment (even if you’re not broke, like many students). You are also tied to that car from now on, come what may. From personal experience, and stories from others, selling a car is deliriously difficult and time consuming, especially if something comes up and you don't have the money to pay for it. It's not a thing that can be easily undone.
But with careful preparation, a little research, and a cool head, you can avoid that sort of pitfall. You don't need to unmake a decision like that. It's easier to step around a hole than to dig yourself out of one, believe me.
That isn't to say every pitfall can be danced around, and not every decision you make directly relates to buying a car. Going back to how easy it is to do something, I'd like to apply that to how we deal with interpersonal conflict. Sometimes it's just so easy to get angry, to yell and shout and swear and scream ourselves hoarse because someone else did something or is wrong. So we get worked up and rant, until we say something that we shouldn't have. The kind of thing that once you've calmed down, you are mortified at having even considered saying it. Often times, these kinds of hurtful things are said to the people we care about most, and they can't be unsaid. This kind of damage can't be undone.
The difference between a decision and a mistake is a big one, but they're two sides of the same coin. Realistically, a mistake is just a choice gone terribly, terribly wrong. It isn't all bad though, as humans tend to muck things up with a startling frequency. Essentially, YouTube made a business out of this concept in many ways. It happens all the time, to every last one of us. Mistakes are made, and please forgive this cliché, but no one is perfect. Hell, I even believe there are lessons you can't learn until you actually ruin something. You might wreck your car when you’re young, but you learn from it. You might say the wrong thing at the wrong time and suddenly be out a good friend, but it teaches you to mind your words.
Someone wiser than me once said (I paraphrase my dad a lot as it turns out) to accept the fact that sooner or later I am bound to mess up beyond repair. It's happened to me a lot since I heard those words, but I'm proud to tell you all I've never committed the same folly twice. Except for eating too much cheesecake, but the only real lesson there is that it's delicious and I dare you to say differently.