Every week I throw up a quote or a saying that comes to mind on this whiteboard that sits on my desk.
This week it happens to be “View everything as optional”. I have no clue where I came up with it (if I did) or if I saw it online or in a book sometime in the past.
Now, what do I mean when I say “view everything as optional”? I am talking about your decisions, your life, everything around you. Did you have to get that coffee? Buy that shirt? Go out with friends? Tell your friends you weren’t going out because of other pressing matters (like watching Daredevil all night as I did)?
Everyone says that saying “No” is the best option. Truth be told that advice is horrible. You shouldn’t always say no to every question thrown at you, you won’t go anywhere with that, you just can’t be successful that way, you’ll have to say yes eventually.
Instead, think of everything as optional. Think of everything in your life, think of what could’ve been done better if you had just thought about it a little bit more. Don’t just immediately say no because that’s what everyone is pressuring you into saying and especially don’t just immediately say yes because that’s what everyone is pressuring you into saying. Instead, think beyond that, maybe it doesn’t deserve an answer, maybe you honestly just don’t care enough, maybe you’ll realize it isn’t vital to your life. Think of everything as optional.
Think of every time you have ever had to answer something, every time someone has told you something is final, that it can’t be fixed, that it just “isn’t possible”, or that you’re “getting ahead of yourself”. Take what they say under consideration, but realize nothing is final when making decisions, realize that everything around you is completely optional.
Explore your options. Don’t let the world tell you that you only have one option, don’t let them tell you what to think, don’t let them think for you. Be yourself, and make your own decisions. I realize sometimes it doesn’t work out that way, that some situations just “can’t” be optional, that what has happened, has happened. But, 99.9% of the time it’s “final” and you “can’t do anything about it” is just wrong in the scale of things.
If you set your mind to it, there is always an option. There is always something you can do. There is always another option that you’re just not thinking about. Even if everything seems empty as if you have no other choices as if you have been cornered as if you can’t go any farther. There is always an option.
Just look further beyond the questions, the answer is there. I promise. If you just think about it a little bit longer than that split second before giving the “final” answer, you will come to an option that is better and fits more with want you to want than what the other side that is pressuring you wants more. When I say look beyond, I mean it. Take the question apart word by word, take the situation apart and throw away everything you know and look at the events that caused it.
Life is not an exam.
There are no multiple choice forms in life, there are no exams. There are options beyond the normal “A” and “B”, and well beyond “C”, “D”, “E”, and “F”. Those options on tests from high school were thrown at you because those could be an answer. Within one of those questions could be the answer that you need to get that perfect score.
But what happens if the teacher made an error? What happens if that specific question didn’t have the correct answer to it, and you just knew, you just had this gut feeling that you were right and that the test was wrong? Would you speak up? That’s up to you because everything is optional.
You could just leave it be, you could just fill in the standard back up answer of “C” or you could think harder and ask the people around you, consult the teacher, consult your parents, the internet, textbooks, videos, professors, doesn’t matter as long as you just look beyond.
If you went for the “C” option you wouldn’t enjoy finding out that later that your gut feeling was right, and that you could’ve said something about it.
You fell into what society has told you – that there are only predetermined answers – to stop looking farther down the rabbit hole and find the answer that you need to fulfill yourself. Think of all those chances you could’ve had if you had just looked into the question more. It will fuel your doubt, it certainly fuels mine.
But, the chance at being more right instead of wrong because you looked into it because you went beyond the question and found a new option that wasn’t on the board, will certainly make yourself feel better and that’s because it is better.
Thinking for yourself, making your own choices, risking everything on a choice you feel is right, from all the research you have done is far more exciting and wonderful than letting the world tell you what your options are.
Sometimes the world is better at answering questions, sometimes they can make the better calls. But, sometimes they just can’t. I’m not telling you to always overlook what the world is telling you. Take them into consideration, look into them, but also look into the options that can’t be seen, the options that sit beyond the horizon of the black hole that we just can’t, that we just shouldn’t look into.
Find your own answer, don’t let yourself let the world find your answer. Be your own person. Have your own personality. Have your own choices.
View everything as optional.