On Making Big Life Decisions

Keirsten Marie

I’m a person who makes a lot of impulsive decisions, or at least attempts to. Every month, I have a new way I want to cut my hair. If I have to go to a wedding or a friend’s birthday party, I nearly always run to the store to get a new dress or top for the occasion (much to my bank account’s dismay). If my bank account is lacking the funds, I sit around and look online, dreaming of the possibilities that could transpire with a new outfit. The next step to this process? I send a pic to one of my friends and ask their opinion. In fact, almost every time I’m about to make any sort of decision, I ask a friend.

In our texting conversations lies a thread of pictures and/or question marks relating to the many things I want to do with my life or how I want to appear to other people. Now I wouldn’t say that I always trust their answer; there have been many haircuts that I regret and many “I told you so’s” from the friends who begged me not to get straight across bangs. Needless to say, friends, it’s okay to listen to your friends for hair advice, especially when it’s a risky decision that only looks good on Zooey Deschanel and a few other celebrities.

But a friend’s opinion is just that, their opinion. Ultimately, we need to have certainty of who we are and what we want in life.

Last spring, I had a minor breakdown. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I had spent the majority of my college career believing I wanted to be a college professor, but suddenly, during the transition from school to the real world, that illusion shattered and the reality of teaching for the rest of my life seemed exhausting and daunting. In these moments where I felt completely alone, I asked myself what I really wanted to do and which direction I wanted to go in. I found an answer that I thought was fitting. I didn’t really have any reasoning to back it up, but it just felt right.

Then I decided to ask people about what they thought I should do. My friends, who love me dearly, told me what they thought and most of the responses weren’t what I wanted to hear. Then I started to question my own reasoning and slowly but surely, I began to feel lost again. I spent a few weeks thinking about it and praying, and after spending time alone with the idea of heading into more school, I decided I was headed in the right direction, but also more importantly, that I knew myself best.

I think there are a lot of times where we question what we should do, and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Friends and loved ones can provide an outside perspective on your life and sometimes we really need that. However, there’s a difference between asking for advice and letting other people’s perception of you control your life.

Having self-confidence isn’t easy, especially in a world that sometimes feels as if it’s pressuring you to be perfect. So naturally, we turn to others for validation. But this is a dangerous game, dear friends. Slowly, we begin to put our worth in the way other people see us and I can tell you from personal experience, the fall from this idea is a long way down and more destructive than you can imagine.

I will be the last person to suggest that you should stop relying on your friends for help, but I do believe that we should start to trust our ability to make decisions more. Stop questioning yourself so much. If you want to be an actress and you think it’s possible, then do it. If you want to go to school, then take the leap of faith and make it happen. The more you start to trust yourself, the more your friends start to notice. Once I stopped asking for others’ opinions and told them what I wanted, I found much more support, and the more support I received, the more confident I became.

So go easy on yourself. Be willing to forgive yourself if you make a mistake. I find people are so reluctant to do this, but when asked if they would forgive a friend for making the same mistake, they say yes without hesitation. We are our own toughest critics, but I believe we can also become our biggest supporters.

If you’re debating on whether or not you should get a perm, I’d highly advise you ask for a second opinion, but ultimately, if it’s what you want, quit questioning and go get the damn thing.

photo credit: flickr/Keirsten Marie

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