Standing in front of the mirror I had an internal war over which skirt to put on for the event. After lives were lost and blood was spilt over this turmoil; I put on a pair of jeans and called it a day. Walking out the door I couldn’t shake the feeling of the weight of what I just had to endure. Life is about the choices we make. Beyond a certain point, be it the number of times you’ve blown out the candles on your birthday cake or the number of children you’ve borne and ruined, you realize that the choices that you make become exponentially significant in shaping your experience and influence in this world.
Now the thing is life has always been about choices, but soon enough the choices that you make seem to matter a whole lot more. This daunting task could make it difficult for you to get out of bed and face a new day. “What if I ruin my life with one stupid choice today?” could cripple you for a long time. At the end of the day though making wise choices seems to be the most important thing we can do with our lives, it is even more crucial to never forget that even after a bad choice, there is always tomorrow-you have to keep on living.
I chose my favorite jeans. The ones that you see and you immediately know I love them. Possibly the holes on both knees – the one above the right knee and the huge gash lingering ever so dangerously high up my inner thigh – would be a dead giveaway. If those aren’t, the color which cannot be placed, named nor perceived by any set of working eyes would quietly whisper to you that the jeans have seen too many wash days. Better yet the emaciated material and the strings that were once woven as an intricate sturdy part of the jean fabric would jump up and down waving their arms high in the air, begging for someone to please throw them in the trash. I chose wrong. I found myself hopelessly underdressed.
Sticking to the outskirts of the room, wishing to be swallowed by the shadows created by the poorly lit hall, I stuffed my face with anything that passed by me on a tray. I feigned interest in every small talk topic that anyone kind enough to engage me in did. When I could bear the torture no longer, I went home and ate some more. A week later, the number on my scale would cause me to regret yet another decision I made that day.
This brings me to my point. It may seem like small things at first, you make a bad decision and then you regret it, but then you live to make another one. However let not the folly of your youth follow you into the sunset of your life. Most of the time the right choices are the most difficult ones to make. Take those decisions. What makes you extraordinary is what sets you apart from the rest. Failing? Everyone can do that. Quitting? Anyone can do that. It’s surviving failure and still not quitting which sets you apart. It’s being confronted with your mortality, your eminent end and yet living to see another day that makes people remember you. Learning from yourself is equally as important as learning to forgive yourself.
What I learned that day is, at some point, doing (wearing) what I wanted in order to make me comfortable was not the liberation I needed to be remembered as someone great. I made a fool of myself. It was going way out of my comfort zone (enduring the pain of heels and taking the time to shave my legs, and to iron) that would have rendered me ready to stand in front of a room full of professors to give my speech. Yes, because that day, looking good would have given me the confidence I needed to kick serious butt.
Jemila Abdulai is the creative director, editor and founder of the award-winning website Circumspecte.com. A media and international development professional and economist by training, she combines her business, communications and project management expertise with her strong passion for Africa. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys travel, global cuisine, movies, and good design.