Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Indecision: The Source of All Headaches

If there is one thing I am not, it is a “sure” person. Making decisions with a feeling of certainty is as foreign to me as what life is like on other planets.

In college, this is acceptable.

Professors derive a great sense of pleasure out of pulling the rug out from under the sheltered and the unquestioning masses of undergrads. “Question everything,” they encourage. “Are those views yours or your parents?” Or worse yet…society’s?

In this sense, I have never graduated from college.

There is a thin line between believing in open-mindedness to all things and all possibilities, and the belief that if you don’t stand up for something, you might just fall for anything.

The choices I have made in life with an air of certainty are few and far between- if they exist at all. Every crossroads is another opportunity to slip life under the old magnifying glass; waver, waffle and either do something or nothing, and continue on in the comfortable holding pattern that already exists.

I keep expecting at some point in my life, something – anything – will become starkly clear. “The way” will reveal itself unto me, and I will fall into place as is ordained by fate.

Or not.

Since this has yet to happen, when confronted with a big decision, my mind instead enters into a thick, pea-soupy fog of uncertainty. Accepting one possible path eliminates another, which my mind fails to acknowledge as a positive thing. However, reality suggests I can’t possibly ever be everything to everyone, nor can I do everything and go everywhere, so I might as well make a decision and stick with it.

Hindsight and “the gut” are my two main tools when faced with big decisions. Hindsight helps me verify that I have made good decisions before, and perhaps, I could make them again. “The gut” tells me what action is probably *best* to take, even if that action feels uncomfortable or scary. Previously, emotion had this job, but the brain realized emotion is not to be trusted. At the same time, my brain acknowledged its own shortcoming as too logical of an instrument to be completely depended upon. “The gut” takes everything into account, along with some deep-seeded intuition that I can only attribute to the evolution and survival of the human species.

Still, I keep hoping that sometime, something will feel absolutely certain to me.

But then, maybe I am just the kind of person who is incapable of feeling certain; about anything. Yet at the same time I know I feel certain about some things: I am certain my family loves me, I am certain who my best friend is (Trish) and I am certain that I have some kind of human value. However, everything else is up for grabs.

In hindsight, I can say for the short time I was engaged, I was uncertain. I said yes, because I loved the guy, it seemed the next logical step and I thought it was what I wanted. Preferred alternatives to that scenario still haven’t revealed themselves to me, sometimes making me uncertain that ending the engagement was the “right” decision. During times of self-doubt like those, “the gut” reminds me that I called it off – I wasn’t institutionalized, therefore I must have made the “decision” in sound mind, even if time has made the reasons behind it less clear.

I guess somehow in life I became under the impression that decisions were easy. They were black and white or good and bad – not a rainbow of shades of gray.

My dad always says whatever decision you make is the right one. I don’t know if I buy that completely either. If I did, making them might be easier for me.

Still, sometimes too long of doing “nothing,” is motivation for me to do “something.”


trish said...

I see your points, however, you give yourself little to no credit for your actions. You have made much more progress than you realize.
Also, if hindsight is playing such a large part in determining your future it only makes sense that you are going down the wrong paths - stop looking in the rear view mirror and focus on where you want to go. "Where" doesn't necessarily need to be tangible - your goal can be "happiness," "wealth," "love," or any other of a myriad of possibilities.
P.S. thanks for the shout-out.