The Hard Choice

Graduation season 2022 is over. Lots of celebration for accomplishments years in the making.

In his remarks a few week ago to our recent intern graduates, our executive director acknowledged that they had earned the reward for making the hard choice. The choice to do more. The choice to shift direction. The choice to make a difference. The choice to endure.

As I listened to his remarks, it crossed my mind that it’s easy to celebrate crossing the finish line of a hard choice journey. Typically there are friends and family eager to join the party and drink in the joy. Lots of excitement. Lots of cheer. But those moments do not reflect the majority of the journey after making the choice until lifting the glass.

Probably none of those people were awake at 2AM while you finished that paper. Probably no one brought you coffee and patted you on the back and whispered, “Hang in there.” Only you know the full emotional, physical, mental scope of your entire journey.

Many of life’s journeys tell a similar story. The 45-year marriage. The 52-year career. The all-life parenting.

How many times in that decade-long career did you have to make a hard choice that few, if any, people acknowledged? Which year in your marriage did you make the most important choice that strengthened your relationship? Who knew about it? And I imagine the majority of parenting feels like daily hard choices. Accurate?

In those moments where there’s no one cheering you on, you’re faced with possible doubts. It’s normal to wonder, “Is this worth it? Why does each step get tougher? Does anyone see what I’m putting myself through?” Try not to overreact to these thoughts. They are linked to many things-fatigue, loneliness, uncertainty, fear, growth, to name a few.

Maybe you’re having that doubting moment today. It’s July, the summer after your freshman university year. Anyone cheering you on while you work that summer job? Probably not. Do you give up and say it’s just too hard? Before you answer that, here are two suggestions.

Tell someone that you need some cheering on. Whoever just came to mind that is capable of doing that without hesitation, send them a text or give them a call. Ask and most likely you’ll receive.

After that, find someone that you can cheer on. Seriously, don’t wait for them to ask. Think, look, observe. Whose path did you cross today that looks like they are doubting their hard choice? Send them a text. Give them a call. Whisper a “Hang in There.”

I believe hard choices can be celebrated multiple times, not just after crossing the finish line. If for no other reasons, to make sure the dream is fed, the choice is affirmed, and the joy is realized.

Hang in There!

Photo by Marc Kleen on Unsplash

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