Going to graduate school was a personal choice. Doing a research project and writing a thesis was another personal choice. I did these things to find permanent happiness in my life. I did these things so that I would one day have a career that I loved. I did these things so that I would no longer have to live my life filled with regret as a result of never doing them. In many ways I am MUCH happier than I have ever been. I know exactly what kind of career I want and I have a plan in place to help me obtain it. I have more goals than I’ve ever had and I see unlimited possibilities for my life. The only regret that I have right now is not having a cup of coffee with dinner, and this is a regret that will inevitably resolve itself.
When you actually decide to follow your dreams, whatever they may be, you may realize why so many other people never do. You may realize why so many people settle for what is in front of them rather than what they actually want. This road is exhausting. It is the most painful road you may ever take. It is a brutally honest road with a plethora of temptations that will constantly give you the opportunity to stop moving forward without judgement. This road will sometimes feel lonely and it may deliver failure over and over again.
As I sit here in the middle of the night working on my thesis I can’t stop thinking about what my life would be like right now if I hadn’t abandoned my established adult life to take this road. Throughout my life I have failed countless times and I have settled more times than I would like to admit. I allowed myself to settle for less than I deserved and less than I desired for far too long. The problem with settling is that it doesn’t always appear as failure. It can be disguised as success or [temporary] happiness but at the end of the day, at the end of my life I did not want to be carrying a burden of regret. I may have shut the door to my dreams years ago but eventually I learned that I could open it again, so I did. The stress and anxiety that I am feeling right now is nothing compared to the regret that I felt before. At least now I know that despite not being able to change the past, the future is as wide open as that door.
If I could only ever give one piece of advice it would be not to settle for less than you desire.