The Choices We Make

Thinking back, I think I always knew I wanted to be a writer. When our school had Book Sales (which honestly, in accordance with my complete dork-dom, were my favorite time of the year), they also sold blank books, which I bought by the dozen. A whole white, unblemished book! Bound, even! Full of possibilities, full of crisp white pages to fill up with my thoughts! Utopia!

Even before then, I always had a journal, though I willingly called it my diary at that time. My first one was orange with a little mouse on it, complete with lock and key. It had “My Diary” emblazoned upon the front, and within I wrote my thoughts, desires, experiences.

Like the time that Sara Christy threw the volleyball at me in gym class? I promptly kicked her in the knee, and promptly went home and wrote about it. Nicole Elwell, the girl down the street, annoyed me to no end, though today I can’t for the life of me remember why. I talked about my dance classes, my best friend Beth Jerome, and later, as I grew, about the ever-so-secret crushes that I had but would never act upon.

Such as the one I had on Ethan Foster in third grade, and when he asked me “to go with him” even after the catastrophic boy-looking feathered-on-both-sides haircut that I got (a result of my Dad taking me to the barber shop, letting me get whatever I wanted done to my hair, me saying I liked it with the sides back and them subsequently mullet-izing me, to my Mother’s extreme horror such that she called her hairdresser immediately and the only remedy was to turn me into Tiny Tim crossed with Farrah Fawcett), and yet, despite my secret crush, I said ‘no.’ I remember his sweet voice asking me ‘why?’, why I couldn’t go with him and me just repeating “I don’t know” because my Dad was in the room and I was far too mortified to tell my parents I liked boys just yet. I always wonder what would have happened if I had said yes since he was (probably still is) absolutely darling. Oh well, the choices we make…But I digress.

I was always writing, knew it was my strong suit, and loved to not only write what I had written but read it aloud as well. My 7th grade English teacher, Mr. Werner, is to whom I often attribute my zeal for the written word, but it wasn’t until High School that I realized how much I loved to speak in front of people. Perhaps it was those many, many student council elections that I subsequently lost, perhaps it was the only child in me, but I loved it. I’m shocked that I never pursued acting past those few classes I had at the Beck Center when in elementary school, but again…the choices we make.

When looking for a college, the naïveté in me combined with the inflated opinion of myself caused me to ‘pooh-pooh’ any schools in Ohio; the only school I applied to was Ohio University and decided against it, despite my scholarship, because it didn’t have a good enough Pre-Med program. You see, I was beginning to stray.

Along with writing, I also found a natural talent for the sciences, which is the analytical side in me acting up. Whether it was all of those logic puzzles we did on a daily basis in the Gifted Program (the same program that embarrassed me to no end, being that it isolated me from most of my classmates — kids never want to be too dumb or too smart or even be anything but normal, you know), or an inherent fascination with Tweedle Bug colonies when younger, I found myself deciding that the career of a doctor would be the perfect one for me.

So I applied to top-notch schools, went to Carolina, and balanced my Biology/Genetics degree with as many journalism classes as I could take. Oh, the choices we make.

On graduation day, I decided I didn’t want to go to Med school. Coming to the realization that you don’t HAVE to do everything you are able to was a huge realization for me. I always felt bound to science, obligated to follow that path, since not doing so would be, in essence, denying a gift. Yet I don’t know of a day since that I have felt that free, felt that confident in my decision, and being elated in the fact that, for me, the matter was final.

Since then, I’ve gone to Grad school, left Grad school, lived in three cities, seven houses, and now, five jobs and three cats later, I wonder about the choices I’ve made. I’ve turned down offers to work for magazines in NYC, due to the unlivable salaries. I’ve accepted jobs with the promises of writing, only to find my only writing projects to be formal letters of complaint. And despite all I’ve accomplished, despite knowing how far I’ve come, I still feel – still know – that something is missing.

My Mom tells me to have “An Attitude of Gratitude.” I tell her to stop watching Oprah so much. (She claims it’s not as good this year since everyone is “Living their Best Lives.” I tell her again to stop watching Oprah so much.) But it makes me think – am I living MY best life? Am I doing what I should be, living where I should be, working where I should be? I feel like a broken record, constantly questioning this decision or that decision and always looking for more, wondering if there’s something inherently wrong with me that I feel this nagging yearning that seriously, I’m holding something back. And that I am being HELD back.

By these choices I make.

16 thoughts on “The Choices We Make

  1. Wow Aubrey, can you get out of my head for a minute. I completely feel what you are saying, as each day I question whether or not moving to DC was the best choice for me. So your next entry has to be, how do we live with the choices that we have made?

  2. I think a lot of us question the paths we have chosen to take. I do every other day. I think you made a smart decision to be a writer, you are a good one. Maybe you should have taken the job at the NYC magazine even though it didn’t pay enough, or maybe you should be living some where other than Atlanta. But the choices to leave a city or look for a new job will come to you out of no where when your not expecting it. Just like the decisions to move to Atlanta and the one not to take the NYC job did. Just wait, you’ll see what I am talking about. A greater life might be waiting for you out there, but you’ll find it when the time is right…..now if I can only take my own advice….

  3. i once wrote a whole screenplay based upon the concept of choices and the effects of them…
    anyway, ask yourself this question:
    if you had made different choices then the ones you made, would you not still question if that choice was the right one?
    and not to steal from Matrix II, but you are not questioning if you made the right choice (b/c i think deep down you know that you did), but WHY you made them…
    your greatest gift is also what drives you nuts: the ability to NEVER STOP THINKING combined with a perfectionist type A personality…all the answers you come up with simply lead to more questions…i know this b/c i am the same way
    but for some reason i have to come to some peace (as much anyone like this can) b/c all you can do, is try to make the best decision you can when the choices are presented to you
    and as long as you make them (b/c if you don’t life will…) then what else can you do???
    answer: be more zen…and yes that is not the answer to the question but that’t the whole point…i think…
    and don’t let the whole writing thing get to you, hemingway once said that you can’t write about life till you have lived it…plus my favorite writers all became really good or didn’t get published till they were older…raymond chandler, elmore leonard, william gibson…and yes i’m a geek…
    that’s my rant (lack of sleep and caffiene will do that to you)
    thanks again for the site, makes me feel more normal to see others like me
    you need some peace aubs, do whatever you need to get there…
    oh, and you should have simply failed the gifted test on purpose so they wouldn’t put you in that class, then you could read a bunch of books when you finished before everyone else did in the enriched classes, its what i did 🙂

  4. be suspicious of anyone of labels themselves a “type A” personality. if you say “I’m a type A” personality, your trying to cover something up. when someone labels themselves a Type A, i label them as suspicious.
    hello aubrey!

  5. Your constant questioning is probably a result of your writer’s mentality, but as I’ve been reading your blog for the last few months, you seem to always have negativity towards the ATL. I moved to Atlanta a year and half ago; everyone I met said give it a year and then you’ll know if it’s right for you…sure enough, I’m in love with the city…The fact that *Texas* seemed to entice you (per a previous entry), might indicate that Atlanta isn’t a perfect fit for you.

  6. Hmm..interesting post. I did sciences too, Biology Major, and in third year, after I’d written the MCAT (and did well, in everything but physics) I decided med school wasn’t for me. I’ve always been into writing all my life too, but I never took journalism or creative writing classes in university (pychology was my minor) and now I wonder if I made a mistake not taking any classes to improve my writing, b/c even if I wanted to start writing for a magazine now what experience or knowledge could I show? Ok..this was not what I planned to write. I’m a big thinker too, and I’ve been questioning choices I’ve made and wondering and worrying and feeling helpless at not knowing whether I’ve made the right choice and if I haven’t what am I going to do now? Or am I not giving myself a chance or the benefit of the doubt? Ok…basically, you aren’t alone in what you are going through and hang in there, you are a great writer and trust your choices, even if some of them turn out to be mistakes, b/c everything happens for a reason, and everything contributes to the person you are now.

  7. Ha…crazy, huh? I found this aubrey through Tuckermax…where I learned that her friends call her aubs (same), she used to live in DC (same), and she thinks poop is funny (obviously, same ;). I refer to her as “bizzaro world aubs.”

  8. Lighten up and enjoy life a bit, there, Andreas. Austin Powers parties make fun of English people with bad teeth. Disco parties make fun of white people in the seventies with poor taste in music and clothing. Eurotrash parties make fun of white people in the nineties with poor taste in music and clothing. Etc, etc. Many people think it’s fun to celebrate all the things that make us different by exaggerating them a bit (ok, quite a bit, usually) and poking some fun. If you don’t like them, don’t attend (or feel free to quit reading this site, which is clearly your right). Feel free to only attend social events and only read sites which scrupulously limit themselves to content that is sure to offend no one. Many of us won’t be there, because we would sooner choose to stay home and tear our fingernails out with pliers.

  9. RIGHT ON! People do need to lighten up & stop taking offense to everything.
    And hmmm. let’s see. I’ve seen MTV make fun of white/trailer/”redneck” types of people……is that considered bigoted? i guess “ghetto” people don’t care about that though, since they aren’t the ones being made fun of…
    people are so uptight & close-minded these days.

  10. Although I agree that Andreas Rahim is oversensitive,I will comment more on Aubrey’s observations. I remember you leaving the GT program and I had a similar experience deciding not to go into the program until Middle School. If you enjoy writing, why don’t you go back into biology and/or academia? There is lots of writing involved and you can combine your writing/ analytical skills. Speaking from experience, the pay is not good, but it is fun.

  11. your examples of white people making fun of themselves do not apply. if you make fun of your own, esp. if you are all from the privileged race, there is no sting.
    when the privileged race makes fun of a suppressed minority, that is a racist insult meant to put down the minority

  12. First, this website really isn’t meant to be the springboard for a dialogue on racism, bigotry and the like. Know that the “Ghetto Fabulous” Party was not mine, even though I was in attendance. As were people of many, many races, including African Americans. I respect your views on this, but don’t wish to continue this forum on race relations, at least on my website.

  13. sorry aubs…you’re right…..there’s a much bigger & more important reason for this site & its content…i guess sometimes some of us can’t help but be defensive, which makes those of us who respond just as bad as those who make the accusations. thanks for the reality check

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