crossroadsWhen I was still fairly new to drama school, I was going through a rough patch. This was bound to happen; I was in a new (and, in some respects, completely alien) environment, and I didn’t have the cocoon of my family and friends around me.

I don’t remember how or why, exactly, but one of my seniors – she had graduated a year or two before I started – took a shine to me. And she was one of those lovely women who are so polished and graceful, you’re a little frightened of them.. and they don’t take to everyone, if you know what I mean.

So even after she moved to Mumbai aka Bollywood (our teachers would gnash their teeth when graduates did that, telling them they were betraying the hallowed proscenium stage, but I suspect they secretly hoped to be able to say about the next big star, “I knew him when…”) we stayed in touch, for a while at least.

At some point I wrote a letter (no email in those days, at least in India) to her where I, er, unburdened myself of whatever woes I had at the time. I don’t remember how long the letter was (but believe me, I could write long letters), and in it I must have asked her how she made it through.

I don’t remember the entire letter I received in reply, but I do remember her writing, in the kindest way possible, “I had to figure it out. It was my choice, you see.”

I have never, and probably will never, forget that sentiment.

She didn’t hit me over the head with it, but answered my question with honesty, gracefully pointing out what I really should have known by the age of 24.

Life’s all about choices. Sometimes we make good choices, sometimes bad. But whichever kind, they take us down a road where inevitably, we have to make more choices.

And so on and so on and so on.

It’s not always easy to remember this, particularly when we’re going through a dark period. It’s so much easier to moan and groan.

But it was choice that got us there in the first place, wasn’t it?

So not to get all new-agey or holier-than-thou on you, but for some reason – I really don’t know why – that written interchange from all those years ago has been playing itself over and over in my head, and I had to get it out.

I’ve been trying really hard over the last few years, and especially over the last year or so, to make the choices that don’t just seem right, but that feel right.

It’s not always easy to know which is which, even if I work out the pros and cons of each (which I can’t help doing, sometimes I even use an Excel spreadsheet to do so… yea, that gave you a laugh, didn’t it?).

So if I’m really stuck, I go with how my stomach feels. I visualize Choice A and note how my stomach feels. And then I do the same with Choice B.

And whichever one leaves my tummy feeling not-nauseous, not-butterflyish, not-thumpy-and-lumpy… that’s the one I go with.

Not a very scientific method, but it seems to work for me.

How do you make choices? Do you think you’ve made mostly the right ones? Have you chosen to be where you are today?

Image: Richard Elzey via Flickr, CC 2.0

Shonali Burke
Founder and publisher of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke helps smart businesses make bank by taking their communications from corporate codswallop to community cool™. She is also the founder of The Social PR Virtuoso®, which provides online, on-demand training that helps you unleash your inner Social PR superhero. Shonali is mad about ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis, though not necessarily in that order. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke