Life is about compromise. I’m not talking about compromise as in giving up your dreams; or settling for less; or lowering your standards. Life is a compromise in the sense that in order to get what you want, some other things must be let go. Maybe you didn’t get into your first choice college, or get your perfect job on the first try, or find the man of your dreams. Often what we think is second best may be the best thing that ever happened to us.
We learn from experience, and some experiences are terrible as we live through them. But we emerge stronger on the other side. I liken it to crawling through a cold, dark tunnel with no light shining through. As I’m crawling through the mind-numbing darkness, a pinpoint of light appears. It encourages me to keep going. Gradually the pinpoint grows bigger, and bigger, until I emerge into the sunlight. After being in the dark for so long, I am blinded at first. But soon I am reveling in the light and warmth.
This is how I see bad times in my life. I have made compromises; I have had to give up some things to get where I wanted to go. I gave up a marriage to finish my education; I gave up a lucrative job to save my soul; I gave up toxic people in my life to save my sanity. This is what I mean by compromise. In none of these cases did I give up my dream, settle for less, or lower my standards.
The art of compromise involves walking a fine line. Sometimes we have to think about the decision; other times it’s a matter of doing what we think is right. What’s the worst that can happen if I give up x to pursue y? What if I forego y and stay with x? Sometimes, I have to follow my intuition, my instinct, and it hasn’t failed me. The biggest problem I have is with what ifs – what if I had stayed where I was? Would I be better off? If I had stayed in a dead marriage instead of leaving and following my dream, would I be where I am now? But what ifs are counter-productive; they serve no purpose. Where I am is a good place. I won’t stay here forever, but for now, this is where I am, and I can only go forward from here; I refuse to go backwards.