Friday, March 2, 2012

Choice and the Freedom to Fail

In a lot of ways "choice" is synonymous with "freedom".  I suppose if there is any truth to that statement, "choice" must also mean a host of different things to different people. We all come from unique backgrounds with equally unique histories. You may think you have more in common with your neighbor than someone half a world away; but that isn't necessarily the case. It's impossible to know another's experience fully, or to understand how they internalize the world within themselves. That's why "choice" and "freedom" mean so many different things to different people and cannot truly be defined in anything but a subjective manner. For those lucky enough, it might mean being able to choose which college or university they want to attend. For others it may be a choice between attending any schooling at all or working to support their family. For some "choice" is a luxury and for others it can be easily, and perhaps unknowingly, taken for granted.

If "choice" is "freedom" I can't imagine giving it up for someone else to decided for me.  Some choices may seem bigger and more frightening than myself; but to not have a say in them is even more frightening. Some of the biggest decisions, the most important, are also the most defining and life changing. Should I go to university? Which one? Should I get married? Should I have a family? All are potentially anxiety inducing and most certainly life changing. I'm fortunate enough that these choices are mine to make. As such, the ramifications of those choices are also mine. Choices and decisions can be difficult, sometimes the wrong ones are made, but it's how you own those mistakes that helps define you as a person. "Choice" is the freedom to succeed and fail. That's why it's such a precious gift and one we should all be thankful to have when we do.

My daughters are very young still, but this is something I want them to appreciate the importance of. It's also something that I, as their mother, must learn to appreciate in them as well. It's difficult to go from a place where you make all the choices for them, to allowing them the freedom to choose; and fail. They're becoming little individuals who must  be respected as such. They need me to step back and allow them to make their own choices so that they can learn from them. They'll fail many more times than they'll succeed at first; and it's so hard to not just swoop in and take over.  I can see in their eyes how proud they are when they get to choose something, even if it's something small. There is a sense of ownership in what they're doing. They truly thrive on being allowed to be not only independent, but seeing that their independence and choices are important and valued.  Learning the value and importance in their own choices will, hopefully, teach them to see the importance and value in the choices of others.


  1. Fabulous post Jenn. Makes me think about what I want to teach J. There are still repressed societies that do not make their own choices, cannot express who they are because they live in fear, where women are considered property and treated worse than animals, where people with disabilities are hidden or, if severe enough, killed. Failure is our greatest teacher and is nothing to be ashamed of. If you succeed once, it's because you have failed many more times before getting there. Thanks for making me think. It's early, but I'm glad :)

    1. Thanks Amanda! I decided to use one of the writing prompts at Blogher this time. It made me think a lot about the debate in the States about health care,insurance and contiception coverage. How for some it seems like they want to take away or limit choices for others. I'm thankful that I have the choices I do.

  2. Lovely post.....we need choices and the ability to make them. Obama made an interesting comment when he wanted his daughters to be able to have conversations and choices.

    Check out my latest post.


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