The Choice Effect

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Apparently I was the lucky one that got this book for free, as it now comes with a $9.99 price tag, and thus I can no longer tag it as a free book. However, this is a great reminder to you all that you should check Amazon regularly for free books and download the heck of them… you can always delete them later if you decide they are really not your cup of tea.

Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled program.

While I thought this book was pretty funny, and even insightful at times, I didn’t find it completely mind-blowing or actually resembling my life. I realize that any book like this is going to have a certain demographic in mind, but still. Not every person, or should I say not every female in my generation has met all of the criteria laid out by this book. As for the things I find a resemblance to, I believe there are other reasons for the phenomena then what was explained as the cause and effect.

Point 1:

Women today want to “sow their proverbial wild oats” before settling down (if getting married at all) to Mr. Perfect. On average, women in my generation anticipate sleeping with at least 10 men before getting married. Oftentimes singledom is preferred so you can hook up with whomever you feel like on the particular day, or travel wherever in the world you want without being tied down, and not having to worry about pleasing another person other than yourself.

My answer:

This is called being selfish. The whole book could just be summed up by this one word. Who cares about anyone else, I’m going to do what I want when I want and to hell with anyone else! On the surface, this might sound like a great plan for happiness. If you do what you want, then you will be happy. But relationships and “self” are more complex than that.

Yes, marriage is work and yes, you do have to be held accountable to that person, and yes, it can be difficult, and yes, sometimes you just want to do what you want and realize that it can be a sacrifice to beholden to someone else. HOWEVER, whoever said that sacrifices have to be miserable experiences? Actually, my favorite part of the book (aside from the disappointing fact that the book was, in fact, NOT about Halloween and jam) was a quote from author Gayle Forman.

“Life is fluid. You don’t have a singular passion that rules you constantly, and as you move through life, you continually make certain decisions and choose certain priorities. Often those choices seem very black-and-white: I am giving up A to commit to B. It seemed that way to me when I had my first child. I had recently gone around the world and written a book about it. I had a career as a journalist, but suddenly I had a baby. I couldn’t be a world traveler and the kind of mother I wanted to be (at least not with a young child). So I made a choice. No more traveling, which for all intents and purposes meant no more journalist, or the kind I’d done. So I gave up a gratifying career and escapist joys of travel. I still had to make a living. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do that. One door closes,a another opens, or in my case, blows right off the hinges. I would up writing a young adult novel and found a career that was way more gratifying than my previous one had been. So without ever meaning to, I have found a successful, gratifying career that I can manage while raising two children. But the irony is, I wouldn’t have had this life had I not hit a certain fork in the road and made a turn, made a choice, picked a priority, and decided I couldn’t have it all, and that I actually didn’t want to.”

Hello! A book on this subject written by Gayle would probably be infinitely more realistic and less selfish. Life is about making priorities and decisions from those priorities. You’re not supposed pine over what could have been, but forge ahead and make the best of whatever life has been given to you. Happiness isn’t “having it all.”

As for having sex like lions before you “settle down” and “commit” to one person for the rest of your life, I suppose I am a strange animal. I realize that as a Christian, your perspective on things like this is much different, although even Christians are human so it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will remain virgins until marriage. My husband and I are strange animals – while we played house for most of our dating years due to financial reasons (read: I moved 1,200 miles away from home and couldn’t afford my own place only making $800 a month) we waited until marriage before having sex. There, I said it. People assume that if you’re living together, then you are most definitely having sex. Well, they are probably right. If you don’t make the conscious effort NOT to have sex, then you probably will at some point or another. Most people will probably find your reasoning silly. However, my point is that not everyone in our generation has the same views about sex and relationships that is covered in this book.

Point 2:

Women are getting married later and having kids later. And, are terrified of divorce. Women are putting families on hold for the sake of their careers.

My answer:

True, people are getting married and having children later. Even I got married when I was 22 years old, which may be early or around average these days, but in my parents time, the clock was certainly ticking by that point. This year I am turning 25 — no baby in sight. My parents divorced when I was in grade school. Am I terrified of divorce? Well, yeah. I guess. I certainly don’t want to get divorced but how many people are thinking about that when they get married? It’s not something that is planned, it just happens (usually).

So, why am I taking the pink pill every 21 days to ensure that a little baby doesn’t start growing? To be perfectly honest, 50% of the reason is related to health — I am very overweight and need to lose quite a bit of weight before attempting a pregnancy. The other 50% is due to work and financial issues. In 2007, before my husband and I got married, we branched out and started our own business, but the economy had already started getting pretty bad and we lost the large government contract we were depending on. I was still freelancing, but the work was slow and didn’t bring in enough money to sustain us. He was out looking for a job, and I was supposed to stay home and freelance. Except it didn’t quite work that way, because he could not find a job. Then December came and we had $500 to our name, it was either not be able to pay all of the rent and starve that month, or buy some food instead. We had to borrow the rent money. Then I realized that I was going to have to look for a full time job too, and luckily I found one. My husband, however, has since given up looking for an outside job and has continued with freelancing on his own (which I help out with). Given my status as the primary bread winner, I don’t have the luxury to reproduce at this time. Maybe if our situation doesn’t change we can at least save up enough money to make that reality possible down the road, but for now, it just isn’t feasible even if I didn’t have any other reason not to have kids.

So my point? Society has changed to the point where women HAVE to work. This book glorifies that fact in that women enjoy working and want to do it. But what about those who don’t want to be the primary breadwinner? Sure, I can work. I’d love to be able to work part time or just freelance and not have the responsibility of bringing in the big paycheck. I find that this whole feminist movement has repercussions that women 50 years ago didn’t envision: and that’s that women are now slaves to business. And really, what is so feminist about that?

Point 3:

Travel! Experience the world! Happiness!

My Answer:

Yeah, traveling is nice, and I have done a fair share of that. It always feels the same to me. I get on an airplane, and arrive to my destination a world from my daily life. I spend however much time there and absorb all there is to absorb. Then a few days, a week, a month, years later it’s all a distant memory as if it never happened. There is always something surreal to snow-capped mountains and 2,000 miles later the same day, palm trees and sweltering heat. Traveling is not the meaning of life or the holy grail. If I never leave the country again I can manage to live out the rest of my days without a twinge of regret.

Closing Remarks

And seeing that I’m over 1500 words, I’m going to stop there. It’s a pretty interesting topic that I may continue at a later time. Perhaps the book served it’s purpose afterall: it gets you thinking and examining your own life. Would I recommend to others? Perhaps if I’ve had the opportunity to discuss some of these issues with them either before or after they have read it. It’s a good book for that.

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