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For everything you have missed, you gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else” [Ralph Waldo Emerson].

A few weeks ago, I was having lunch with my friend and neighbor, Karen. We were eagerly using up our daily allotment of calories by splurging on burritos (with sour cream and guacamole, of course) from Chipotle.

I love getting together with Karen. She has the best stories, knows the most interesting people, and has gathered a wealth of information which she generously shares with me. On this particular day, I was discussing a new project that had recently presented itself. I explained that although I could see potential in this opportunity, moving forward didn’t feel right.

I had stumbled upon one of life’s multiple choice questions. It was time to break out the No. 2 Pencil and show my work. I reviewed the options with Karen, but remained unsure. The correct answer could be A or B or C or, even, A+B, or B+C. Yikes! I could feel sweat forming on my brow and my pulse quicken.

Tests in college were never this difficult! Tom Bodett explains it this way, “The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches a lesson.”

Trying to decide the best answer was stressing me out! On one hand, I didn’t want to waste a great opportunity I would later regret. On the other, I certainly didn’t want to get myself into a situation that might entangle my time and resources and be difficult to get out from under.

An endless parade of options and answers and consequences churned around in my mind. My test paper became covered with equations and lists and arrows and question marks. Is it just me, or can anyone else relate to a life filled with unanswered questions as the test clock quickly counts down?

To be honest, I suffered a mini-panic attack right there, during lunch at Chipotle. Although if you were to ask Karen about my breakdown, I’m sure she would deny it ever happened — Karen’s a good friend. She’s got my back.

Karen stopped the insanity by asking me where the fear was coming from. I thought about her question for a minute. Simply stated, the fear originated from my belief that if I “wasted” this opportunity, even though it really wasn’t “right” for me, I would be left with nothing. My future would be empty. Others would point at my foolishness and sadly shake their heads.

Then she said, “Who says this will be your only opportunity? If you pass on this one, another opportunity will come around. You passed on previous offers and this one still presented itself.”

Of course she was right! My fear was irrational. Maybe the correct answer all along was D: None of the above. Just because the situation had potential, does not mean it was the right opportunity for me or that I needed to act upon it.

We must carefully choose the path for our life. To be available for those “yes” moments, we’ll have had to say “no” at some point. Be willing to choose “none of the above,” even if it creates fear, or disapproval, or regret for a time. Do the research, show your work, confidently mark your answer, move on, look for the next opportunity.

“A door that seems to stand open must be of a man’s size, or it is not the door that providence means for him” [Henry Ward Beecher].

Whatever you are, be a good one!

Deanna

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