Choices, are a privilege of our time.
Compared to the generations before us, we have become next-level, mind-bogglingly rich in the choices we can make in our lives.
If we are struggling to understand, we can seek answers. We barely even have to ask questions anymore. If we are wondering why something is, we can Google it.
We no longer have to wrack our brains or leaf through encyclopaedias for the answer.
If we are feeling lonely, we can seek connection. We barely have to be separated anymore. If we are wondering where our friends are or what our exes in love are doing, we can either ask them in a nanosecond, or check their social media.
We no longer have to waste our energy agonising about the lives of others.
If we are bored, we can seek stimulation. We barely have to try anymore. If we are wondering what another life might be like, we can create it.
We no longer have to waste our time feeling trapped.
We can use information to justify our itches, and walk away.
And like explorers from another time, it feels like we have stumbled upon these riches like a cave of forgotten treasure. With our eyes wide, we can barely believe our luck.
Such is the abundance of choices, we throw them in the air like gold coins.
We look at each other and tell each other how lucky we are, whenever we can. We grab the attention of strangers, and shout our fortune in their faces.
We rub the noses of those who have scorned us in the dust of our choices.
Look, we say. Look, at all the things we can do. Look at all the things I do.
Look at want I have done.
We can choose a path. We can choose life. We can choose love. We can choose a job. Then we can choose to change it. Look at all the things I chose to do. We are in control.
How can anyone be unhappy? How can you be unhappy?
Just choose to be happy.
But, if information buys choices, then we forget the important thing about the transaction.
Because a transaction it is.
We are so busy crafting our personal narrative of success, we forget that for every choice, there is an other. Every choice, had an alternative.
The things we didn’t do, and the impact that had. The path we didn’t take, and where that may have led. The place we decided not to be. The life we decided to leave.
The person we left behind.
An abundance of choices, creates abundance of others.
And in a place of such bounty, this is the forgotten cave. We try to ignore it. We hope not to visit, because we would prefer to stay on the good side of our choices.
But the mathematics of the universe has other ideas. It does not particularly care about the order we want to keep.
Which means at some point, all of us will be an other.
Because that is the thing about the universe. It laughs in our faces when we think we are in control.
And being an other really, really, sucks.
An other does not marvel at the wonder of information, because it is information that torments. It is information that makes you wonder about why it wasn’t you.
When you do everything you can be the choice, it hurts not to be the one who was picked.
The other does not have to be alone to be lonely. Surrounded by the lives of the happy, provides only the fuel for unhappiness. Knowing, does not connect. It just reminds us that we are the other.
A familiar smile in a profile picture, the knowing look of the moving on, becomes not a source a joy but a reminder of despair.
So, what do we do?
We can be angry, and anger is the fuel of the other. We can be frustrated at life, because an other feels better when they are a victim. We can blame, vent, and find others who will do the same.
We can drain ourselves on the treadmill of being the other.
Or we can step forwards.
We can re-frame of our place in the universe of others.
Because being an other can feel like something is being done to you, but it is not.
It is just life. And you are not alone.
Being the other choice is nothing more than life not meeting your expectations.
It can be heartbreaking, but we cannot control the choices of others, no matter what we hoped or expected them to be.
The greatest trick of modern life is believing we can be in control of everything.
And so you cannot be annoyed at those who put you on a different path. We can only be annoyed at ourselves for thinking it would be different. We can be annoyed at the situation for not playing out as we hoped.
If we realise this, then we can start to heal.
Knowing that life is going in other direction, firstly gives us an opportunity to act.
Because if we truly are an other, then it is only up to us to bring life up to the expectations we wanted.
We can even try to do something to make ourselves the choice.
Not by telling those around us it should have been us, but through actions.
We can see if that works. If we are going to lose anyway, through the silent days, then lean in at least once. As much as you can, until it feels like you might break inside.
At least we’ll know.
But we also have to understand that we have a finite amount of effort.
If we cannot change the narrative, or change the situation. If we have chased enough. If it begins to feel like a game.
There is a point where we have to change again.
We have to accept and sometimes to step forwards we have to step back. And it is the hardest.
We have to learn to live with it, whatever it is. And at first it is lonely. So lonely.
But once we do this, then something happens. We are still not in control, but we can start to find acceptance and find our worth.
It can be hard, because we have to do it alone. That is the deal of being the other. Building new muscles around our own worth, when life did not go how we would have liked is a long journey of the soul.
And if we are expecting a marching band, then it isn’t going to come. If you’re doing it to be noticed, then you’re doing it all wrong.
Building this worth is done with the support of those around you who love you, but the hard work is yours.
Only we can change our view, and understand just how wonderful we are.
Only we can live, despite the presence of a feeling that will not go away.
So if they are taking selfies with someone else whilst you are at home wondering, then you are probably an other.
If conversation becomes measured where once there was depth, it might be that the path is not yours anymore.
We should not have to chase. We should never play games.
We all deserve the fireworks, the adulations.
If not then we eventually have to accept that maybe it is not right. Maybe it is the wrong time.
Understand it. Try to change it. But if this does not work, then choose yourself.
Accept that it is real. Accept you are an other, but understand your worth.
Being an other can be an awful and devastating truth.
But the understanding that despite of it our life must go on, will set you free.
Only we can learn to live with the presence of the absence. Use it to make new choices.
Only we can talk to the voice in our heads, and tell it how things need to be now.
Again and again, until it understands.
Which may well be forever.
You are fragile. We are all fragile.
But we are all wonderful.