That has been my single biggest advantage in life.
The truth is our choices make us. Even when we let others make them for us.
Let's take a ride down memory lane. Our parents/guardians chose the schools we attended (based on the value they placed on our education and the money they could afford to spent towards it). And it's amazing how those choices have defined us. Some even got married to their primary school love. We are so proud of the schools we attended and will rather go for our school reunion than a company retreat. The primary school we didn't choose as against the company we worked hard to get a job in. I don't see people arguing that my company is better than yours, but I see people almost beat themselves up in defense of their Alma mater. We have our university anthems, secondary school logos on our phones/laptops, but not the job offer letter we signed after a rigorous interview session. So it doesn't matter who made the choices, you or someone else, the effects are lifelong. Those choices will someday make us.
I think too much about my life. Not about the future, but about my options. I've been given a life, my life. Regardless of what parents advise, friends prescribe, and the society certifies; in the end I will have to live with the outcome of my choices. When I'm old, parents won't be there to blame, friends would have changed, and the society would have moved on; I'll be forced to accept full responsibility for those choices, whether I made them or not.
It's sometimes hard to think straight under the influence of parents, friends and culture. The trick I use is to think long-term. When I'm 70 years old, which would I wish I had taken. It helps in putting things in the right perspective. It helps to see the irrationality in most of the options. And using this trick, I have decided to stop engaging in non-value adding activities. You wouldn't find me arguing with anyone, it drains energy and adds no value. You wouldn't find me trying hard to impress anyone. I'm not interested in people who don't like me; I'm still trying hard not to piss off the few that do. I don't do anything just for the sake of tomorrow's gain -- like boot-licking or suffering now. Life is as much about the journey as is the desired destination. I'll not let anything scratch my dignity. I need it intact till I die.
Everyday, I spend hours examining my life and identifying the logic/emotion behind the numerous choices I make. And I'm often amazed by the ones I let a smiling sales rep, the traffic, my boss at work, my colleagues at work, the talking heads on TV and radio, popular opinions and fashion trend make for me. And I say to myself, "No wonder they say Nigerians are the same; the choices that make us are made by same influences/people."