The Importance of the Choice (#StateOfMyMind)

I’ve been surviving through depression for a while. I say surviving because it’s hard to truly live when you lose the desire to exist. September and October were particularly difficult months for me. At least once a week, I would wake up in tears, for the simple reason that I wished I had not woken up. My reasons for this are many and varied, and perfectly valid (so if you try to argue with me, I’ll lash you with my tongue, pen or keyboard). I really don’t want to commit suicide, despite my dwindling desire to exist. So I’d kind of hoped that God would have mercy on me and take my life quietly as I slept, kinda like Elijah felt.

1 Kings 19: 4-5 (NIV)

“He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.”

Yeah, basically. God didn’t kill him, though. As a matter of fact, God didn’t kill him so much that Elijah is one of the only two people I’ve read of who never actually died. Sigh, this God! The ones who pray for death are the ones He chooses to bless with life. What is this kraa? So, needless to say, God didn’t take my breath – day after day after day, and I was in misery.

There was this one particular morning where I woke up, cried a lot, and got myself to bathe. And then I got back into bed in my towel, still naked, and could not freaking stop crying. I did not want to be alive, I did not want to go to school, I did not give a metaphorical sexual intercourse about all the stupid activities the human society insisted I “had to” do with my life, and, failing to see a way out, I could only think of sweet death.

Now ten minutes till breakfast, my roommate came over to my side of the room and told me to get dressed so I could go to school. I told her nope, I’m not going to effin’ school, I don’t want to go. And I promise you I was all ready to stay naked in my bedroom until they eventually found me and finally expelled me, Hallelujah! Do you know what she told me? She told me, “Well you don’t really have a choice.”

Okay, so I’m not a fan of anime or manga, but I know that this is exactly the point when, without Herculean restraint, I’d have gone Super Saiyan on her and she’d have like, died. (No offense if you’re reading this, boo, I still love you, even when you lock me out for hours and forget you have the key.) (LOL JK. She’ll never see this. None of my classmates read anything I write. J )

This is the problem. This is a problem – a worldwide one. Humans go around telling other humans that they don’t have a choice; are you freaking mad? Not only is this a blatant LIE, but this statement has the potential to nearly DESTROY me!

I wonder if people consciously realise that most of these things that society tells us we “have to” do, are things the society itself made up. We’re born into civilizations so we copy and copy and copy until we stop asking ourselves how things came to be the way they are and if it’s still necessary for them to be that way. I highly doubt the purpose of my life is to wear uniforms and follow rules and systems made by humans until I die.

You who are stressed and depressed that you have to toil daily to provide for your spouse and kids, who told you that you “have to” have children? You who are caught up in an unhappy marriage, who told you that you “have to” get married to that person? You who are entirely submerged in a job you’re tired of and consumed by the thought of making money – who told you that this job is something you “don’t have a choice” but to do? And you who are over 40 years old and still struggling to pay off your student loans – who told you that four to seven years in a tertiary institution was something you “had no choice” but to have experienced, not considering that you’d be in debt for the rest of your life?

I dislike that not many people actually sit down to think about these things, not realising how free they actually are, and how much they’re only limited by society and, as a result of conditioning, by their own selves.

A year or two ago, my then roommate (who is, coincidentally, sitting in my room as I write this), made me realise how no one can actually make you do anything. Not without actual, chip-in-the-brain mind control. Yes, they may create rules. And yes, they may give you incentives or threats. Yes, there may be consequences for not doing what you are told to do, but really, no one can make you do anything. Someone can try robbing you and tell you to give them all your money. You can choose not to comply. They can knock you unconscious and take it anyway. But you chose not to give it to them. In some similar situation, someone else would have trembled in fear, given them all the money, and gone around telling people that “I had no choice”. Listen, someone could threaten to kill your entire family, expel you, call your parents – but they can’t actually make you do anything if you choose not to. You might just end up with your family dead, schoolless, grounded, whatever. Because you chose not to do what they wanted.

That day, I swear I could have decided not to dress up, not to go to breakfast, and not go to school. Sometime, probably, the teachers would have realised that stuff was up and come into my room, tried to coax me and failed, tried to threaten me, failed and then, after a bunch of other attempts, called my parents. And even after all the rules I’d have broken, they’d still never have admitted that I didn’t have to do any of the things they said I did, that I had freely chosen not to do the things that I “didn’t have a choice” to not do. Hah. Suckers.

The knowledge that one does, in fact, have a choice in everything that is not a normative truth is very important to me, especially as a sufferer of depression as a result of the oppression of the systems of school and my society. I am going to try to explain why, in the full knowledge that it might be futile. This will be entirely ineffective if you don’t turn on your empathy senses. It might be one of those things that you don’t ever understand if you’ve never experienced it; I don’t know how good I am at explaining, but I’ll try.

Some people, like me, have chronic creativity. Like, disruptive talents. We can’t conform even if we tried; our minds CANNOT think like everyone else’s. Yes, it’s a good thing, but growing into ourselves as we are surrounded by ordinary thinkers can be highly detrimental. The disadvantages is that because we think differently, many things – systems, rules, mandatory things that we can’t see the point of – get to us and just generally don’t sit well. We are the ones who are going to ask questions, especially when we don’t see why certain things “have to” be done. We’re not the kind to complain only small, then accept that this is how the world is, then move on, satisfied with it being broken.

Now listen: depression causes large levels of disinterest and apathy towards a lot of the actions that you do or used to perform. I don’t’ know if anyone read “I’m Bored” when I posted it on my blog about a year ago. I got berated by my parents for sharing stuff like that online, because you KNOW how the Ghanaian society is about these things; they don’t’ want to know that they exist and see evidence of it. It makes them uncomfortable. That’s what even led me to write “The Façade” as a follow-up, but that’s for a different argument.

So, this disinterest is so deep, right, that you wake up every morning just wanting to go back to sleep – for the rest of your life. Because you can’t see the point of going through the motions of a day filled with activities you don’t give a single sexual intercourse about. And you can’t see the freaking point of things! You ask yourself, why do I have to do this? And that? And this? And the conventional answers don’t satisfy you.

“You have to get an education.” I can get learn without being “educated”. I’m largely an autodidact, for goodness’ sake!

“You have to socialise during compulsory activities/ entertainment.” But the people I’m surrounded by suck and don’t connect with me.

“You have to go to college.” Why? Because the rest of the middle class is going to college? Because it’s a norm of society that the society designed to control our paths in life and make money with?

“You have to get a job.” Why? Because now, no one can fathom the idea that an artist can be self-employed? That you can paint and make money? Write and make money? Perform and make money? Not make money but survive anyway?

“You have to make lots of money so you can live comfortably.” But I don’t want heaps of money I have nothing to do with! I don’t want a mansion; it’s too big for me, and I’m not planning on living with all of my 8 paternal cousins and their children. I don’t care about being a millionaire.

And yet, for all these things and more, people confidently and proudly repeat that mantra of theirs to me: “You don’t have a choice,” not knowing that every time I hear it, it kills a part of my spirit. If I don’t have a choice in anything, I might as well not exist, at least not with a will; choicelessness turns me, and everyone else, into a mere puppet of the system. And I hate timetables.

At this time, you have to do this.

By this age, you should have done this.

You will starve and be destitute if you don’t do this.

THE CHOICE TO BELIEVE YOU DON’T HAVE A CHOICE IS A CHOICE IN ITSELF!

And this confinement, this mental confinement and restriction by society made me believe I could never do anything I ever chose, and thus would have been unhappy for the rest of my life. Can you see where these thoughts are going? One thing leads to another and then you think, “Well, then what do I need the rest of my life for? I don’t!”

Each person who told me didn’t have a choice in my life was KILLING me from the inside out, and they didn’t even know it, oh God! So, do you wonder how I became suicidal? How I arrived at the conclusion that killing myself was the only way out? Because I realised that if I didn’t have a choice in my life, I at least had a choice in my death.

THERE ARE SO MANY EASY WAYS TO KILL YOURSELF. Heck, pop a dozen painkillers before bed, and you’ll probably never wake up the next morning – simple as that! J

Whenever I told anyone I didn’t want to live anymore, guess what they told me? Yup, that I didn’t have a choice, and it drove me to the damn wall. I was this close! What do you mean I don’t have a choice but to be miserable? So all these suicides that have been witnessed throughout history, they’re all fiction stories ehn? That’s nonsense. I had the power over my own death, if not my life, and I knew it.

If you’re wondering why I’m still alive, I swear it’s only because I believe in God. Did Jesus die on the cross to give me life so that I could say I don’t want to take it? Kwasias3m! And that’s yet another key factor to note: Jesus died and resurrected to save ALL of humanity, but you are only saved if you CHOOSE to come into his grace! God is sovereign, yet He’s not a dictator – have you ever thought of that? It is only in Him that I find the absolute freedom of CHOOSING. He lays down his rules, yes; He lays down his consequences, yes, but in the end He doesn’t break our backs saying we don’t have a choice but to do everything He says. If that were the case, there would be NO religions in the world, only ONE faith, and no one inside that ONE faith would ever do any wrong, because we wouldn’t have had the choice to sin in the first place. We’d have been robots.

The Word is full of choices!

2 Timothy 3:12 (NIV)

“In fact, everyone who WANTS TO live a godly life in Jesus Christ will be persecuted.”

Joshua 24:15 (NIV)

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then CHOOSE FOR YOURSELVES this day whom you will serve…”

Deuteronomy 30:19 (NIV)

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now CHOOSE life, so that you and your children may live”

Job 34:4 (NIV)

“Let us DISCERN FOR OURSELVES what is right; let us learn together what is good.”

Psalm 25:12 (NIV)

“Who then, are those who fear the LORD? He will instruct them in the ways they should CHOOSE.”

Et cetera, et cetera.

I fail to understand how a sovereign God can give us the power to choose, albeit there being mad serious consequences to choosing unfavourably, but we, mere humans, decide to dictate the lives of fellow humans who feel like the very breath is being squeezed out of them.

So, to fellow people who are also suffering, even partially from restriction and lack of choice, listen to me. YOU HAVE AN INFINITE NUMBER OF CHOICES. Your choices may disappoint everyone around you, but that is their problem, honestly. Spiritually and mentally, you have more freedom than any of them, who have chosen to restrict themselves. So, never fear that you don’t have a choice; and every time you feel like the breath is going out of you, CHOOSE LIFE, always. God loves you. I love you.

-Akotowaa

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12 thoughts on “The Importance of the Choice (#StateOfMyMind)

  1. Just to spite you, God gave us free will and for that we don’t have a choice. 😝
    But to the post, it’s very true, most of the times ppl tell us “you don’t have a choice” is just the opposite of the situation. FREE WILL to do as you please

  2. You have a true gift for introspection. I was blown away by this post. Your words reminded me of a book called “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. He was a Jewish lecturer imprisoned by the Nazis during the Holocaust. He endured a tremendous loss of freedom and also degradation and loss of morale. Yet despite his circumstances, he observed that even when he had had his physical freedom stripped away, he still had control over his mind. He was able to nurture that bit of control so that little by little, he developed hope and a greater sense of purpose. He used it to pull through. He used it to help other prisoners pull through. He exercised his growing power right under the noses of those who sought to oppress him.
    So you’re right in saying that ultimately, we do have choices in how we live. The visible boundaries are only there to keep us in line. But we are still in control all the same. And pushing past those boundaries might just be a more fulfilling and necessary experience than expected.
    Thanks a lot for writing this. ❤

  3. You have amazing powers of introspection. Thank you for writing this. I was reminder of Vicktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning” as I read. We always have more choice than is obvious. Restricting society pressures are like walls that were built with good intention, but are still walls all the same. You’re very strong for making it this far. You’re very strong for sharing your heart this way. There are days when leaving would be so simple. But once you have a “why” that’s strong enough, it keeps you going. You do inspire me.

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