Hindsight Isn’t 20/20
A cliche that predates Morgan Freeman, it’s popular to wax poetic about the advantage of hindsight. “If I knew then what I know now, I’d likely make a different decision.” It’s a calming explanation to deal with bad decisions or decisions that felt good at the time, but later turned out catastrophic.
I have an irritating habit of doing this exact thing. When I’m dealing with the consequences, it feels like a fresh shot of Johnnie Walker after a long day of work to believe the knowledge gained is what I would’ve applied to the situation.
In reality, butterfly effect be damned, things just aren’t that simple. My hindsight is no more capable than my present mind in predicting the future.
For example, I was offered a job at a local TV station. At the time, I worked as a content writer for an online tech company. I worked when and how I wanted, where my only goal was to finish all my tasks done by the end of the day.
The TV job was for a research position. The office was beautiful. The worked sounded exciting. I’d have to get dressed and commute for a combined hour to do it but it was a tantalizing proposition.
The tour of the TV station almost got me to commit on the spot, however, I needed time to weigh the pros and cons.
For my online job, I worked from my home office, in the clothes I slept in the night before, wrapped in a gigantic blanket. I had time for breakfast. If I needed to run errands I could just get up and go. I admired the freedom.
The downsides were the very real pressure to learn a new industry without a lot of training. Job hours often extended into the early evening, instead of the 4pm time I was told most employees “left” work. Also, I came in during a hectic period so going to work felt like showing up 15 minutes late to an orgy.
I didn’t even know where to start.
The TV position, however, would’ve been a lateral financial move. It was a lot more rigid than the tech job. Also, I’m a writer. Content researching sounded fine but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do, even if it’s in my field of study.
Moreover, I hated the idea of getting dressed for work and the hours were a deal breaker. As a full-time student, I couldn’t fathom going to work from 3am to 12pm. Ultimately, the online gig felt like a better move so I emailed my interviewers and declined the job.
I was fired from my online gig three weeks after I made that decision.
I was apoplectic. “I should’ve just taken the fucking TV job,” I’d yell to either my lady or the emptiness of our apartment. I spent an inordinate amount of energy thinking about how much better my life would’ve been if I’d taken the job.
But, there’s no way for me to know if I’d truly be better off. Being a content researcher could’ve been the start of a promising career. It also could’ve been the opposite; a place where I’d loathed to go before I eventually found myself elsewhere.
I spent so much time beating myself up it wasn’t until months later I thought, “how do you really know that’s the move you were supposed to make?”
And really, that’s fine.