In our lives, there are moments in times that act like fulcrums. Huge, massive moments where the rest of our lives stop and pivot. Moments where a decision must be made, fully knowing that that decision will change everything.
Moments like when you tell the person who would become your spouse how you feel about them, or when you ditch a party and end up meeting your business partner.
These moments are intersections along the massive sprawl of our lives. You can point to them and follow their paths to where you are now.
For me, one of the most pivotal moments in my life was four years ago, when I got laid off from my teaching job.
I had been subbing for a few years in different districts. I had built a few relationships with different teachers and administrators, which brought me some return jobs, but without a teaching license, there’s not a lot of room for advancement there.
My wife started teaching at a new charter school, and they needed subs desperately. They hired me as a part-time building sub. The next semester, they instated me as a permanent sub after a science teacher quit. The next year, they offered me a salaried position as a Title I paraprofessional. I talked with HR about training to lead a new program.
It seemed like everything in my life was pushing me towards education.
Then one day, we got a new principal. He looked at the school and realized that our enrollment wasn’t high enough to justify as many people as we had. They did everything they could to keep everyone on payroll until the school year ended, but one person was going to have to get let go.
I met with my administrator, confident that my three years of faithful service to the school was enough to keep me on board.
I was wrong.
Every plan I had made to further my career came to a screeching halt. For a moment, I thought that I would just go back to subbing and start over from scratch.
But then I had the life-shaking realization that I didn’t have to stay in education.
I could do anything I want.
I didn’t have to work in a school. I could put more time into my job with my church’s worship team. I could make music full time. I could flip vintage action figures on eBay (I actually did that for a while).
The hardest part of getting laid off wasn’t replacing my lost income. It was looking into the infinite field of possibilities in front of me and choosing one. I had spent enough hours playing simple, addictive games like Bubble Shooter—maybe I could design one of my own? Also, my penchant for making killer playlists is well-known...maybe I could start a subscription service that sends out custom mixtapes?
In the end, I returned to my first love: writing. I made some accounts with different freelancing sites, pitched some articles, and here we are (through some detours). But had one or two things gone differently, I could be on a very different path.
Because the fact of the matter is that each one of us faces an infinite number of choices every day. We have the choice to continue our lives uninterrupted or to uproot everything and go hard in the opposite direction. Every day, we have the opportunity to finally start recording our podcast, starting upcycling trashed furniture, or finish our screenplays.
We face thousands of what-ifs every morning—forks in the road that will alter the whole of our lives.
We can either be paralyzed by the choices and stay where we are, or we can move forward.
So just choose.