Am I really making the right choices?

It’s a question I constantly ask myself, although perhaps it is too philosophical for a Tuesday morning. I often dwell in my insecurity over previous big decisions. Should I have broken up with my sixth form girlfriend before moving to uni? Was it a good idea to pursue an office job even though I much prefer hands-on practical work? It's probably too late now anyway. If you change your mind after a certain age, people just assume you’re having a mid-life crisis and recommend you to different counsellors. Sometimes I question if there's a higher power, predominantly to pass blame, just in case I decide that I messed up later down the line. 


‘Do you believe in God?’ I asked Anne, my coworker, while we waited for the kettle to boil. I was never any good at small talk. Too awkward.

‘I was baptised as a girl. I guess I haven’t ever given it a thought, pet. Although I get far bigger payoffs at bingo when I put a word in with the big man!’ She winked at me, and cackled like chain-smoking old ladies do. Anne was an older lady from Yorkshire, constantly talking about retiring. Unsatisfied with her answer, I politely smiled, and left with a slightly under-brewed tea in my hand. It was a bad idea asking the woman who has, what seems to be, a chronic solitaire addiction. 


I wish there was a way to check if you’re living up to what's expected of you. Almost like the academic validation I used to crave. There is no adult equivalent. I realised a while ago that most adults boost their self-esteem in other ways, but then they get weirdly attached to niche hobbies. For example, Paul on the desk next to mine is uncomfortably obsessed with badminton, and no matter how many times I tell him I am not interested, he still goes on about his recent performances. If I earned  a pound for every time he says shuttlecock, I could pay off my mortgage.

‘Played a great game of doubles yesterday, Ben. Nothing is a better workout!’ Paul often just speaks at me like this. He doesn't even know my surname. He just natters on about his own life to fill the silence. I don’t even have to reply now. Quite frankly, he loves the sound of his own voice. I don’t want to turn out like Paul. Especially since it’s clear that he’s cheating on his wife with his new babysitter. That’s not what someone does if they feel fulfilled in life.


By the time Paul had stopped talking to himself about badminton, my tea was cold. I sipped away at it: I didn’t want to risk having to talk to another coworker this early on in the day. Typing away tediously at my keyboard, I contemplated stalking my old uni mates on Facebook, just to see if they’re any better off than I am. Everyone says that comparing yourself to others is bad: but how else am I meant to know how I’m getting on? To compare is to despair is what they say. When I compare myself to Paul or Anne, I feel far better about my life. Admittedly, I feel overwhelmingly pathetic when comparing myself to literally anyone else. 

There is something comforting about being friends with other losers. I have two real friends. We met whilst living in student halls in the first year of university. They’re the only people I have ever really clicked with, although we never talk about anything meaningful. Perhaps that is why I constantly ridicule myself in my free time. To call my only friends losers may seem harsh, but they really are. We have no other friends and no hobbies. We have sensible jobs that don't fulfil us. I had to delete social media a few months ago because I was sick of seeing my overachieving counterparts bragging. It is peaceful this way, even if it is a bit ignorant. I have isolated myself with that choice. It doesn’t matter. I didn't get invited to many things anyway.


So this all leads me back to that nagging question: am I making the right choices?

I’m desperately lonely… but comfortable. I’m doing well at work and I have a good mortgage. What am I moaning about? Perhaps when I’m older, I’ll be less shallow. I might appreciate the small things that I don't and can’t think about right now. But until then, I shall contemplate if it was really all for nothing. 

Photograph taken from Flickr