You are responsible for your own choices

Sometimes I’m tempted to shed responsibility.
I crave a distant time and place when my parents told me how to spend my money, and my college advisor told me what to choose for a college major.
When my doctor told me exactly what to do about my health, and my preacher told me exactly what to think about my religion.
Oh, it isn’t that I want to be a child again. Or even an irresponsible adult. I just want a little less responsibility.
Someone to blame when things don’t turn out quite right. A little more certainty in life. Someone to make decisions for me when I need help, and leave me on my own when I don’t.
Someone to make life a bit easier.
But, for the most part, that isn’t the way it is here at the end of the 20th century. Personal responsibility is a strong expectation. Even children are expected to make their own decisions.
And actually that’s the way it always should have been, and maybe was to some extent. We always should have been thinking for ourselves. Determining our own outcomes.
Eleanor Roosevelt understood perfectly about personal responsibilities, and once said, “In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”
It would be easy sometimes to feel let-down this side of 60. To blame other people when our dreams seem suddenly out of our reach and life is more difficult than we had hoped.
It could be the fault of an unappreciative employer, who says an abrupt good-bye after 30 years on the job. Or of children who move far away. Or friends who find friendship elsewhere.
We could blame a medical system that sometimes has more skill at diagnosis than at cure. Religious leaders who forget to live by their own teachings. A society that values youth more than age.
But when the blaming starts, the most important thing to do is to remember our personal responsibility. Life isn’t something that happens to us. It’s something we create.
Or as Eleanor Roosevelt put it, “In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves.”
This side of 60, it takes an incredible amount of spunk not to listen to the people who want to shape our lives for us.
“It’s time to retire,” they say. Or time to stop working so hard. Time to stop driving, and time to move out of your home. Time to go to the doctor. And time to stay away from the doctor. Time to travel.
Yes, it takes incredible spunk to make your choices but still it has to be done. Being human means taking responsibility for your own life. For your decisions and for your actions. For the direction you plan to go. And no one can possibly justify giving up that God-given responsibility for the last 30 years of life.
So think about it when you’re tempted to shed personal responsibility. Tempted to let others take care of you. Think about the life you want to create. Take the actions that will make that life possible.
Take responsibility for yourself, and always remember, “The process never ends until we die.”

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