Charles Starrett


Blog, links, and…

Culture consultant & social tech teacher/facilitator at SoulCo & Northeastern University. He/Him. Dad, Harvard and NEC alum, visual thinker, dabbler in ukulele, electronic music, 한국어, and TTRPGs.


Freedom of choice

There are many times when well-intentioned people tried to tell me I had a choice. I could choose to quit my PhD. I could choose to find another career. I could choose to use my time differently. I could choose to be happy.

They were right. Yet, I felt like I didn’t have a choice. And I was right, too.

How can both be right, that I had a choice, and didn’t have a choice at the same time?

Because from the outside, it was clear that a choice was possible. From the perspective of the passive voice, the PhD program could be quit, another career could be found, my time could be used differently, and happiness was possible.

However, from my perspective, I couldn’t choose those things.

I didn’t have the skills, the capacity, or the perspective that I needed in order to make those choices. I couldn’t endure the loss of identity from leaving the PhD program. I didn’t have the confidence to try another career. I lacked the awareness skills I needed to use my time differently. And because I didn’t know how to be present in the here and in the now without distracting myself from the reality of what I was seeing, feeling, and sensing, I couldn’t be happy.

So, both were true. I had a choice. But I couldn’t make any other choice than the path I was on.

Until I developed enough skill, capacity, and perspective to make different choices.

If you feel trapped and that you have no choice, it’s worth stopping to notice what is keeping you from making that choice. And then seeing if there is a way to develop new skills, capacity, or perspective that can give you freedom of choice. It can take time, but I’m here to tell you that the new freedom you’ll gain will make it all worthwhile.

22 September 2022

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