I received an email from a very nice person seeking advice and help about their future career choice. I replied saying that I don’t usually give advice because of how complex people are. One piece of advice that might work for one person, may be detrimental to another. However, what I did do was speak from my own experiences – hoping that themes within them applied to their personal situation. I noted that my arguments might very well be complete rubbish!

The email correspondence between us helped me to get some of my thoughts down on paper. And, I would like to put them up on my blog just in case someone else finds value in my experiences. This is the summary of my thoughts.

The blog post describes Alex’s struggle with making decisions when their mental illness and delusions have clouded their judgment. He compares the decision-making process to being dragged along rapids that split into multiple streams, each leading to a waterfall, with the only power being to choose which stream to go down and which waterfall to tumble over. Alex emphasizes the importance of gathering information, having conviction in the choice made, being responsible for the consequences, and being open to changing course if necessary. Alex acknowledges that their analogies are specific to their situation and that there is no overarching general rule that applies to all situations.

I don’t know in any moment whether I’m making the right decision. I’ve been in too many situations where my life depended on making the right decision when I knew that my brain was corrupted by mental illness and delusion. I have not faced anything more terrifying in my life. In those situations, I understood I knew way too little to make such decisions. But I also realised I would never get to the point where I would. Ultimately, I had no choice anyway.

It was as if I was being dragged along by rapids that split continually into multiple streams, each leading to a waterfall. All I had the power to do was choose which stream to go down and which waterfall to tumble over. Making no decision was the worst of all possible options. The direction of the current would be the only thing determining the waterfall I headed towards instead of having some choice in the matter.

In this situation I would gather as much information as I could from the lay of the land ahead, swim towards the river I thought looked like my best option and then brace myself for the fall into the fog below  – hoping I would land in water instead of rocks. I found that in order to make these impossible decisions in time for the greatest amount of choice, it was important to have conviction in whatever choice I made (there is no point swimming against powerful rapids after I had made a choice). I would then hold myself responsible for whatever happened next. If I landed in rocks and became injured, so be it. I would try and learn from my mistakes as quickly as possible, and as best I could, to prepare myself for the next set of waterfalls. I wouldn’t be scared to change course dramatically if it was clear a choice was a bad one. The ifs and buts have little use to me.

I’m not sure if what I have written will help. And, I wish to remind the reader that my analogies are specific to my situation. Please take them with a pinch of salt. The nature of complexity means that there is never one overarching general rule that applies to all situations. Take what you think might be useful and ignore the bits you think won’t. Yes, I have a PhD in physics – but that doesn’t stop me from being very wrong about a lot of things. I am just as perplexed by aspects of the world as anyone else.