Friday, February 24, 2012

Choice Evaluation

Last time I blogged I shared an essay that I had written and then spoken about during my senior year of high school. At the end of the essay my teacher has written me a note, and in it she states that having read the essay she wonders what I would consider a good “choice” and recommends perhaps adding that to my essay in any future revision. If I ever did revise the essay further, I can’t seem to find it now... so I’m not sure what my answer would have been then.

But reading that comment now, nearly five years later, makes me wonder, what do I consider to be a good “choice”? How does my answer now, change from the answer that I would have given nearly five years ago?

I am fairly certain that five years ago this question would have baffled me. I would have likely spent hours in front of a blank computer screen trying to rationalize why exactly I was so befuddled. I’m sure I could have come up with vague ideas of what exactly a “good” or “proper” choice would be, but I think I would have a hard time pinpointing my own self proclaimed “good choices”.

I likely would have rambled around the question much like I just did, and eventually walk away without having really answered at all.

But it is a valid question.

For instance, out of high school I attended a community college for two years before transferring to Michigan State University. MSU was always the goal, and it was my “choice” to defer going immediately out of high school in order to forgo at least a portion of the debt that going immediately would incur.

Quite frankly I knew that I could not afford to attend immediately and did not want to be saddled with a ridiculous amount of debt at the end of my education, when there was another path that I could choose that would ultimately lead to the same result.

These were the reasons behind my choice and for me these reasons validated it as a good one at the time, and still do.

But the thing to be aware of here is that every choice ultimately leads to a new one. Or maybe more precisely new opportunities, the choice that I’ve outlined above, driven by financial reasoning, is an honest reflection of why I made the choice I did and why I thought it a good one at the time. However, after having spent that year at MSU I am able to see that choice in an all-new light.

Let’s be clear, I still feel that Michigan State is where I needed to be and it was a good choice, but I feel that the choice to go there in particular allowed me to come to understand something even more important; sometimes the choices that we make are not really the choices we originally believe them to be.

Allow me to explain.

I originally decided that Michigan State was going to be my collegiate goal at some point during my Junior year of high school. In my research of Journalism schools, I uncovered MSU to be one of the top Journalism schools in Michigan. I choose MSU because they were the best, and I believe that you should always strive to for greatness.

Why give 100% when you can strive for 110%?

So, for the approximately four years between deciding MSU was the goal and actually getting accepted and going, I saw it as a good choice because of the prestige I could earn by having gotten my degree there.

Today, and actually for at least the last two years or so, I’ve begun to see deciding on MSU and ultimately going there to have been a good choice because of the experiences that I had while I was there. I had the opportunity to meet some amazing people, renew my relationship with God and ultimately learn a lot about myself.

It wasn’t just a learning experience, but really a chance to grow and mature and find my footing as the adult that I am and everyday continue to become. Life, after all, is a continual learning experience.

I’m confident that had I not had that year at Michigan State I would not be where I am now in my life, and that would be a shame. Maybe I didn’t actually complete the goal I set out for, which was to graduate from MSU, but that ok because sometimes when we encounter circumstances beyond our control we learn that God has plans larger for us than we could ever imagine for ourselves.

My lack of a degree therefore isn’t a statement to the wrongness of my choices, because the experiences that my choices allowed me to have confirmed that it was the right one.