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Making decisions can be terrifying, and it is something I’ve had to practice over the years. From little choices like where to sit in a restaurant, to bigger choices about what I want to do with my life for the next few months, I’ve never been very good at deciding.
A possible root cause of this is a fear of making the wrong choice. At the back of my mind, a little voice is saying there might be a better option and so I want to make sure I am making the best possible choice. I’ve discovered if I live this way, ultimately, I waste time and energy. To put this pressure on myself all the time is exhausting and pointless.
I think trying to learn to be more decisive is about figuring out what defines a “wrong decision.”
When it comes to the bigger choices we have to make in life, there can be a lot at stake. But, if we constantly put off the decision out of fear of choosing wrongly, we grow stagnant. In a way, this is a choice on its own.
I have many choices ahead of me in the coming months. These choices were preceded by one big decision: to leave South Africa and come to France. In making this choice I’ve realised that, like everything, learning to decide is something we get better at the more we do it. We get more confident in our capability to make decisions, and learn that often what we choose is not as important as our attitude towards the consequences.
Soon I will leave the community of Taizé in France where I have been staying. As of yet, I do not know what I will do next. This kind of situation could be a cause of anxiety for me and, yes, there is a low level of anxiety for me around wanting to make the right choice. But I am beginning to see that just making a decision could be more important and freeing than agonising over trying to make the best possible choice, and, ultimately, having to make a last minute scramble.
There are two driving forces in my life when it comes to decisions: my head and my heart.
Both need to be used! My head often tells me to choose security; my heart, adventure. My heart tends to cause me anxiety, and my head seems to bore me. Perhaps the secret to choosing, then, is to use my head whilst following my heart.
Anxiety when making a choice isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I don’t think we should force ourselves to do things that create large amounts of anxiety within us, but sometimes the anxiety can be an indicator that we need to step in that direction.
There was anxiety around my decision to move to France, and around my decision to stay for a longer time in Taizé. But if I had caved to those anxieties and retreated, I think I would be stuck and more anxious right now. The “leap of faith” analogy is clichéd but apt. We don’t want to jump off the high diving board and as we jump our stomach leaps, but when we hit the water we feel thrilled and alive. If we had stayed at the top, we’d still feel anxious and, if we’d climbed down, we’d be disappointed.
So ultimately, can there be a wrong decision? I don’t really think so.
What is important is that we keep moving forward. If we don’t, we can’t grow. It might be uncomfortable and we might be afraid. But I believe this is only the middle ground before we reach the other side, and we find that the water is cool and refreshing!
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