We live in a world where we have to make choices every day, from the moment we wake up until the moment we close our eyes at night. We make decisions on what to eat, what to wear, where to go, whom to meet, and so on; the list never ceases. In the middle of those decision makings it’s natural for us to ask for suggestion, advice, or even approval from other parties (family members, teachers, colleagues, etc.). However, we should bear in mind that whatever the decision we make (regarding whatever matter), the only person held accountable for the consequence of our decision is ourselves.
In early 2015 my daughter moved to another ballet school after attending one school for about two years. We made the decision after thorough and careful considerations on our long-term personal goals and what the previous school could offer to help us meet those goals. A couple of months later, a mom of my daughter’s friend asked for advice whether her daughter should stay at her current school, or move likewise. I asked her what her dissatisfaction with the current school was. I didn’t ask her about her personal goals by giving her daughter a ballet lesson, because I realized it was none of my concerns. As someone who had seen the best and worst of two schools, I voiced my opinions. She appreciated them and finally decided to move her daughter to a different school (our current one).
About six months after that, our ballet school held a grand performance and asked parents to finance it (student contribution was about 50 USD per student, excluding theater ticket which cost around 50 USD per parent). My husband and I were not into performance and stuff. What matters for us is that our daughter is learning the ballet techniques and can follow choreographies being taught to her. Months of practice (including weekends) for a two-minute performance and a 50-USD costume for one show only, are the things we never intend to put ourselves into. We know our priorities and we won’t send our daughter to a performance only for the sake of seeing her in glittery tutu under the spotlights. I was taken aback when the mom, whose daughter moved to our ballet school based on my advice, blamed me because now she’s forced to have unexpected expenses for a performance.
My responses were clearly these:
- How could have I known that this school would have a performance and charge us this much? I wasn’t even a part of their management team. I didn’t make performance plans. And above all, I couldn’t foresee the future to be able to tell anything to anyone about what our ballet school was planning to do.
- It’s her choice, and mine as well, to include our daughters in the performance or not. It had ALWAYS been a choice. We make them and we have to hold ourselves responsible for the results of those choices. Whether she included her daughter or not, it’s none of my business. If she had thought it through and saw the benefits of her daughter being a part of a performance, then she should do it. Good for her. As for my case, I wouldn’t send my daughter because I had my own considerations.
I literally told that mom; there’s no need for you to blame me, nobody held a gun to your head when you made the decision to change ballet school. I appreciated it when you came to me for advice, but the decision was all yours.
What she’s facing right now was the consequence of her decision. It might have turned out differently if she hadn’t changed school. She might have not been asked to spend more money for a short performance. That fact was true, but again, nobody knew the future. To lighten up the somber mood, I told her that taking a part or not taking a part in a performance was not a matter of life and death, and she shouldn’t be blaming me or anyone else for the decisions she made or was about to make.
Let’s apply this concept to life in general. Be it in a relationship, workplace, brands of hygiene products we use, nobody can force us to make the choices we don’t want to make. If situation gets difficult and everything is working to our disadvantage, there are always two choices:
- We can suck it up; we can bear with the hostility and see how much we can hold it up.
- We can decide that we have had enough, that we don’t want to take it anymore. At the end, we will dust ourselves off and leave.
For the case of that mom, she finally decided to include her daughter in the performance, and I decided not to. She didn’t apologize for blaming me; it didn’t matter anyway. I made my point when I used the gun analogy. Eventually everything worked out just fine for us because, truth be told, we definitely had our different priorities and goals regarding ballet lesson.