My cousin is deciding which college to go to. There’s pressure, because this is going to be one of the biggest decisions of her life. I was thinking about that tonight as she and her mother talked about schools all over the US with all sorts of pros and cons.
The course of her life will be determined by the school she chooses. Mine was, and I dropped out after a year and a half. I made a friend who I learned gambling with, which funded my life for seven years. I met one of my best friends while I was there.
She’ll go for four years, so I imagine it will have an even larger impact on her. It’s daunting, just to think about, really.
At the same time, I don’t think it matters much where she goes. Huge decision, huge impact, low importance.
I feel the same way now, with dating again. I’m aware that whoever I date next may be the last person I ever date. Thanks to the recommendations of you lovely people, I’m in touch with girls with whom I have a ton in common. I shine my attention towards my interest, but in the back of my mind I think it may not matter so much.
When I think about my time in college, the impact it had had nothing to do with my selection. I happened to meet a few good people, did my part to build friendships and learn together, and those things had an outsize impact on my life. With dating, the tenor of the relationship and the work we put in will be the deciding factor, not which of several compatible women I end up with.
It’s important to realize this when making big decisions. The decision will matter, but there’s no real way to predict which is a good decision. It’s like having two doors, one with a hungry alligator behind it, and another with a brand new car. There’s a big reward for picking the right one, but very little to go on to make that decision.
The danger of these decisions is that you think that the important part is what you choose. It’s not, though. The EV is probably about the same (which is often true of difficult decisions). What you do after you make that decision is what will determine what you get out of it.
I could have done more in school. I’d never go back, and I think it was a bad value for me both financially and time-wise, but there’s no point in getting eaten by the alligator just because you open his door. I should have thought more about what I actually wanted to learn, and taken advantage of the resources I paid for.
I’ve done the same in relationships, too, believing that finding the right person mattered more than my attention to the relationship. I plan on doing everything I can to avoid that mistake next time. And hopefully my cousin, who likes school about as much as I do, will make the best out of whichever one she chooses.
Keep an eye out for decisions where you’ll never have enough information to choose the optimal one. Do the best you can, don’t agonize over it, and then maximize no matter what the end result.
Photo is from Petra, Jordan. What an amazing place to see!
I’m in Vegas right now, basking in the glitz and glamor of fixing my water heater, setting up internet service, and getting my license.