Life is hard. There are so many winding or splitting paths, so many opportunities, so many decisions to be made. These lucky folks share the turning point in each of their lives, the best choice they ever made.
1. Always Think Of Grandma.
When I was in kindergarten if you did stuff well, and didn't get In trouble you earned points that you could buy a reward with. I saved mine up for a long time to get a mini gumball machine, but when I finally went to the get it I made a split second decision to buy a glass rose. That was another one of the prizes, and I changed my mind because I was about to visit my grandma and I wanted to give her something. Now every time I visit my grandma I get a little warm feeling seeing that rose sitting carefully in her living room above the fireplace.
2. Quit While You're Ahead.
Quitting my last job. I was burned out on it. Physically, mentally, emotionally. Every morning i woke up looking for reasons I could call in sick. Every night I tossed and turned, dreading the next day. I found myself hoping someone would hit me on the way to work, just to have a valid reason not to show up. Then due to safety issues I broke my foot at work. I was out 6 months recovering. When I came back to work, the burnout was worse.
So one day, I just....quit. We did our morning huddle and stretches. The supervisor talked about how it was going to a busy day. And I just didn't care. I walked off. Went to the outbound supervisor, turned in my badge, and straight up told him this job wasn't for me anymore. Despite not having another job lined up, despite wiping out my savings and maxing out three credit cards to stay afloat while I was out recovering from my broken foot, I felt like I'd just shed a large weight. I smiled for the first time in months. Went and said goodbye to my co-workers, then went outside and waited on my ride.
I'm much happier now. I found another job about a month later. I got my GED. I started paying attention to my relationship and saved it when my fiancé planned on ending things. Now I'm applying to colleges to get a computer science degree and working on a book that has been bouncing in my head for decades. So yeah, best decision I ever made.
3. Therapy. It Helps.
Probably my decision to go talk to a therapist about my stress issues.
For me, it was recognizing that I needed a better therapist. The first counselor didn't really understand what I needed, and would push me to keep explaining why I was depressed. I was kept in that state of mind instead of moving on. Second one was a recording machine. She almost never said anything, so I had to carry the sessions. Again, this just forced me to stay in my own head because I had to keep explaining my feelings. My current therapist will talk more than me some days. I can just tell him something that is on my mind and he is able to pick it up and run. He can explain all the pitfalls that someone might fall into, and warn me to avoid them. He is very good at pressing me into answering my own questions and shedding light onto things I hadn't considered yet. We almost act more like friends having a coffee once a week than therapist/patient.
4. How To Save A Life.
My ex-girlfriend got hooked on illicit substances so I broke it off. First best choice I ever made. I slipped a Narcan into her bag before she walked out the door. Second best choice I ever made because later that week, I heard she tried to purposely overdose. Someone found the Narcan and brought her back. Apparently, she turned her life around after that. We were together for almost 10 years. For things to have ended like that...it really hurts. I heard she sobered up and recently got engaged. Glad I could do her one last solid.
5. Taking A Chance On Love.
I met this girl my first year in the Navy. She was Russian and in the US on a work visa. She was studying English and got to spend the summer in the US as a part of her university program. While she was here, she was working as a lifeguard for the apartment pool and I was swimming everyday to I could pass a swim qualifier for a navy school I was going to. After a few days of flirting and conversation, I find out she lived in apartment 101 and I lived in 102 of the same building. She was the girl next door. She told me her dream was to get an American education but unfortunately she would have to leave at the end of the summer. If you know anything about military pay, you get an extra allowance for housing if you’re married. I married her so she could start her dream and I'd get paid more. We agreed that if it didn't work out, we would divorce when she got her green card. It was risky. I could have gone to jail, and she could get deported and never be able to return. But, I fell in love with her and she me. This next August will be our 11 year anniversary and we have 2 kids. I can't imagine my life without her now. Sometimes the risk is worth it. Just plug your nose and jump.
6. Patience Is A Virtue.
Being patient and listening before I respond to issues.
I’m almost 40. You kids out there should pay heed to this. Be patient. Take time to reflect, digest and process things. This applies in your personal and professional life. “Don’t react. Respond.”
7. Rewarding Relocation!
Moving 2,000 miles away. By myself.
I moved from east to west coast on my own. Nothing has ever helped me realize how strong and absolutely capable and competent I am. People I knew were so shocked by the decision and tried to put so much fear onto me. It only ever made me grit my teeth and whisper to myself, "I'll show them. I know I can keep myself safe and take care of myself. I trust myself. I can do this." And I did. And it is the single best thing I have ever done for me.
8. C's Get Degrees.
Stop stressing about school and grades so much. My whole life I've felt like it's been a swirl of ABCDF and GPA. When I realized I wanted something else after school, my entire outlook and motivation to exist changed.
I was usually bent on exceeding expectations and trying to hit the 4.0. Would be pissed with a 3.8. My brother would be happy with a 2.5. I didn't finish and had to get help. He's an accountant. C's get degrees.
9. One Of The Times It Paid To Quit.
Quitting smoking, I smoked for 9 years and quit 2.5 months ago. One of my favorite things I can do now is run. As a smoker I could never run for more than 2 minutes without dying, now I proudly have a 7-minute mile. I wish I could go back in time and undo all the damage smoking did to me, but all I can do is push forward from here and be glad I don't smoke. Screw cigarettes!!
10. Avoiding Emotional Abuse.
Breaking up with the emotionally manipulative girlfriend. I think we’re all in that situation with a partner at some point or other and finally taking the step to get away from them and realise you don’t need them is a big part of emotional maturity.
The same for me. The best choice I ever made in my life was leaving him. For me the release was being able to escape the abuse and finally be allowed to fully be myself. He would often threaten self-harm or hurting others if certain “needs” of his weren’t met. The threat of self-harm is very effective against me, and there were other abuses that happened. Taking care of him almost consumed me, and at a certain point I’d taken enough abuse and knew that I was going to have to choose between myself and him. When I chose to leave him, it was acknowledging that I loved myself more than I loved him, that I knew I was worth more than that life, and that was an incredibly powerful feeling.
11. A Change Of Heart.
Long ago and far away; after agreeing with my partner that it would be best for us to terminate her unexpected pregnancy, I changed my mind, and chose not to. That night I lay awake, wrestling with our decision and its implications- projecting the 'what if's?' and the ‘maybes’ into the future as far as I could. Finally, I realized two things with absolute certainty: that I loved my partner with all my heart and that the plan we'd set our minds to before going to bed, would slowly erode our relationship until it was no more. In the morning, when she woke up - I kissed her gently – told her that I loved her deeply – wanted to have the baby – and asked her to marry me. Here, decades later, having raised and loved the beautiful daughter that was that baby – it was, and remains, the single best choice I’ve ever made in my entire life.
12. Fight The Green-Eyed Monster.
While in a tumultuous relationship I chose to not be jealous or resentful towards my partner, or anyone else. The biggest thing was realizing that it truly was a choice. When I felt jealous I previously took it personally, for no reason whatsoever, but felt so much more free, stable, and loving when I chose to not do that. It's carried over to a lot of other aspects of my life and has truly helped me to judge and take situations for what they are, allowing me to feel loved a lot easier.
13. One Step Is All It Takes.
Got off my prescription anxiety medication (first Valium, then Klonopin), which I was on between 10th grade to my freshman year of college. I got hooked, started abusing them, experimented with other prescriptions, stole prescriptions, stole money from my family...I was a major scumbag to be honest. But after my lifestyle led me to dropping out of college, I decided that was it. All these medications did was make me tired and lazy, and I turned into such a bad person. But upon getting off them (with the help of my psychiatrist) I started a regular gym routine, got my first job, enrolled in EMS classes and got back to community college. Now I’m a nursing student with a job in EMS, and I look and feel better than I ever have before in my life. I have no regrets and I feel fortunate that I got to get my life back on the road it was meant to be on because I know a lot of other people have not.
14. In The Journal, I Am At Ease.
It sounds super trivial but - keeping a diary. Even if it's just to keep track of what you did that day, our memories can only store so much. Being in touch with your feelings and exactly how you live your life on a day to day basis makes a huge difference to your overall wellbeing. Writing something down not only makes you realise exactly how you feel, but it forces you to accept something rather than repress it, and that's the first step in tackling troubling thoughts. It's done wonders for my mental health and working out what my goals in life are.
15. Holding It Together For Others.
Maintaining normalcy (for my child's sake) during my divorce when my husband quite suddenly abandoned me for another woman.
I DID NOT:
- Freak out and cause any scenes, when all I wanted to do was scream my feelings of betrayal from the rooftops.
- Use my child as leverage in any way.
- Say anything bad about my ex (or the woman) to my child, even though it took an ocean to swallow my pride.
- Move my child hundreds of miles away from their father to be nearer to my family, when all I wanted to do was get as far away from him as possible.
- Restrict my ex's visitation time with our child, even though he and the woman in question lived together.
Way too many parents refuse to acknowledge that their children had nothing to do with their crappy decisions. I feel lucky that I was able to make the right choice, and sacrifice my hurt pride and ego for my child's happiness. It has been six years since then, and I can see what a great decision it was! I might have a buried scream in here somewhere, but even though I couldn't stop my relationship from going to ruins, I could keep my pain to myself, and not let it pour onto my loved ones.
16. Let Go Of The Material World.
Becoming a minimalist, I got rid of almost all my stuff, it was such a stress relief when I had to move and to not worry as much about storage and finding a place to fit my stuff. Also reducing my personal overhead by 60% helps a lot, now I can be debt and worry free!
17. You Can Always Go Back.
This isn't going to sound like much, but I decided to appeal the suspension of my financial aid privileges so I could go to the closest university to my house. I have a wife and kids to worry about so I can't just leave. We were getting by okay but there’s no way I could have afforded to add tuition into my budget. Anyway, after almost 2 years of grueling back-and-forth between us, my renewal of privileges was finally approved and I start school in September at the ripe old age of 31.
18. Never Know Who Needs Saving.
Noticing the guy crying hysterically on the 3rd floor at my old college. Saw him begin motioning to climb over the ledge so I ran up those flights of stairs so fast. Caught him just before he jumped and pulled him back over the railing.
19. Find Love In Unexpected Places.
So a year ago, I decided to download a dating app on a whim. At this point, I had already secluded myself from everyone I know. I deleted all my social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat), and stopped talking to my best friends. I was depressed, and just wanted to talk to someone that I didn't know in real life. After several creepy messages from some guys, another guy messaged me: "Hi. I'm (his name)!" Normally I wouldn't reply to someone that didn't have a profile pic, but I did anyways. This guy was different than the rest. He didn't say anything creepy or offensive. That night we ended up messaging each other until three or four in the morning! We met up a month later and instantly hit it off. He asked me to be his girlfriend several months later, and the rest was history. Honestly, replying to him on that app what one of the best decisions I have ever made. He understands what I'm going through. There were nights when I stayed up crying and he would drop by during the middle of the night just to hug me. Being with him just makes everything better. I constantly think about what if I just ignored him, assuming that he was going to be like the dozen of plain creepy guys. I would be a lot worse off, that's for sure.
20. A Little Self-Care Goes A Long Way.
When I was in my last relationship (lasted 5 years) stress and such had brought on soda and food as a means of release. I had become noticeably overweight, badly. Bordering on obese. After I became single, my friends and I went to Vegas for New Years Eve. At the Heart Attack Grill, they have a public scale, weigh over 350 pounds you eat free. Everyone stands on it to get a photo. I stood on it and I was 345 pounds. This was a wake-up call. Immediately cut out soda, changed my diet completely. I don't have a lot of time to work out because of my work hours, so diet it was. That was New Years Eve 2016-2017. It's now June 2018 and I'm a happy 240 lbs at 6' 4.5". Never felt better in my life.
21. Matrimonial Bliss.
Marrying my wife. Along with being a loving, hilarious, gorgeous geek, she had the emotional intelligence to help me go to therapy and get past decades of baggage from my family, because she had done the same to get through her childhood issues. I love seeing how she is as a mother to our two kids. I'm so glad they'll never have reason to fear their mother like I did.
22. Choose A Good Mentor.
It was choosing the professor that I did to be my mentor for my Bachelor's thesis. I am fairly certain I managed to complete it on time solely based on this one professor, who both motivated me (wrote to me and regularly asked how its going), and also gave suggestions on books and a lot of other help. I know some of my classmates who didn't make it...and unsurprisingly they had mentors who pretty much gave no help and left them on their own.
23. Music Is An Amazing Outlet.
Buying a guitar and learning to play. No matter how tough the days get, how lonely it feels to be away from the people you love or how upsetting it is to not have your love reciprocated, music helps you find serenity and peace. The learning process can be frustrating at times but the results are tangible if you keep at it and the sense of satisfaction is unparalleled. It is an escape from all trivialities and it's time for you.
24. The Power Of Words
On a whim, I decided to join a public speaking and debate club while in college. I was really lacking in self-confidence and dealing with a lot of trauma when I first arrived. I went to University just to get away from a mess of family issues. Joining the team helped me in unexpected ways. Having something constructive to do that allowed me to meet good people, gain confidence and presentation skills, and travel around was exactly the experience didn't know I needed. I'm grateful we didn't have to try out for the team because I didn't have any particular talent or charisma for speaking - it was a matter of "if you're willing to put in the work and keep your grades up, you can be on the team." Having your ideas valued, learning new things, and talking to different people across the nation about their perspectives was intrinsically motivating. I became a much better student because of that, and also arguably a better person.
25. Root Beer, Begone.
I quit drinking soda as a sophomore in HS. To make a long story short, it was an awkward and sad time in my life. I had a horrible diet and was very scrawny and pale. I would get home from school and just game and drink a ton of soda. I looked ill, and was bullied by my own “friends” that I would hang out with daily. They didn’t believe I could give it up, but I did. My skin got clearer, my life got happier, and I began to excel in track. Now I’m fit and they’re overweight, funny how that works. There are a ton of details I’m leaving out, but I would never be who I am today if I never gave it up. It was less of just soda, and more of the bad habits/lifestyle that came with how much I consumed.
26. Paws-itively Heartwarming.
I adopted my cat literally an hour before he was scheduled to be put down. I noticed him alone in the shelter, asked to see him, and when I picked him up he pressed his forehead against mine and would not let go of me. He wouldn't let me set him down even while I was filling out his adoption papers. He was nine years old with a heart murmur, and had been in and out of the shelter his whole life. He is the sweetest boy in the whole world. I was going down a very dark path, and adopting him literally saved my life. Three years later, he is happy and healthy, and so unbelievably loved.
27. Unplug, And Recuperate.
Deleting all my social media, it’s helped a lot with only concentrating my time on people who I care about/care about me...also you lose your fear of missing out.