personal choices

Whoever once said, “As long as the choices people make do not affect others, then they are free to do what they want,” was terribly wrong and should not be allowed to give advice again. The statement is contradictory. We may not like it, but it has to be faced.  The choices we make always affect someone. At times, a choice may primarily affect the person who makes it, but never exclusively.

Every choice a person makes, large or small, from how time is spent to which career to pursue, will have an effect on another person. It could be a seemingly miniscule repercussion or one large enough to change everything. Regardless of the degree, someone is always affected by the choices of others. It is impossible to avoid. Because of this, decisions should not be handled with indifference towards the influence they could have in the lives of others. Rather they should be valued for this very reason.

There is an attitude in many people today that promotes making choices with little to no regard for others. It is not selfishness, but more self-centeredness through ignorance. The individualism-obsessed culture seen today encourages people to only think of themselves when it comes to decisions and not to worry about how it might involve someone else. It is applauded when people say they are living life for themselves. Sometimes this is appropriate, but not always. The “I’m just doing me” attitude does not work consistently because the truth is that other people are involved. Lives are interlaced in millions of different ways, and there is no way to escape the influence one has on others. Even attempting to escape it has influence.

This does not mean that choices should be made without giving thought to oneself. There are definitely times when it is necessary to make a self-centered choice. It does not necessarily make someone a selfish person. After all, total altruism is impossible to achieve and can be damaging to try.

Whether to go to college and where to go to college and many other choices should be made based on the best interest of the individual. These are decisions that are appropriate to be selfish about, but it is still true that they affect others. Where a person attends college affects parents, guardians, siblings, employers, high school friends, as well as the people who will be met during college such as roommates, classmates, potential friends, etc. And this is just a brief list. Despite this, making a decision completely based on one’s personal interest can still be appropriate and beneficial.

Sometimes decisions should be made with the best interest of self in mind, but while accepting and understanding that it will play a part in the lives of others too. Other times, decisions should be made while thinking of others’ needs. Though difficult, it is beneficial to consider others’ and think less of oneself. Acknowledging that each choice made will affect another person is a valuable way to live, and not only with the big things, but with small decisions too. Choices matter, people matter and when there is awareness of the influence a choice can have, there are better outcomes.