The Pressures of the “Right Decision”

You can’t write the pages for tomorrow without having first written the pages for today…

And yet why is it that I am practically obsessing about doing just that?

Having entered into my late 20’s, that societal pressure that we all face is growing heavier and heavier day by day. As children we are constantly asked about what we want to be when we grow up. In high school we’re pressured to know what we want to study in college. In college we learn to make 5 and 10 year plans. We are constantly taught to envision our future. And while it’s important to dream and to have goals, there almost seems to be an unspoken pressure to also have it “all figured out” by a certain stage in your life.

What does it mean having everything figured out? It means having a plan. Not just any plan, a specific and detailed plan with all of the dots connected, the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted.

But on the other hand everyone’s opinion about what you “should” do is different. When I tell people I’m completely clueless about what I’m going to be doing after I finish my year in Gijon, the reactions I get are different. “You’re young, you should keep traveling,” is the most popular. Or, “You like Spain, you speak the language, and you have friends here. You should stay!” is the next most popular. While obviously no one who says these things have ill intentions, with the sheer amount of voices telling you the same things, your own voice gets drowned out and you forget what it sounds like…

With these two contrary pressures I have found myself for years constantly torn between doing what it is I want to do and what it is I should be doing. Living in Costa Rica was the first time I felt liberated from societal pressures. When I think of the most fulfilling and happiest time of my life Costa Rica is one of the first memories to come into mind. My days were simple, beginning with physically and mentally demanding labor in the rain forest, followed by card games and great company, and a whole lot of writing.

Does what I’m striving for have to be so grand and complicated and great and specific? For some reason I feel that I’m supposed to reach higher, achieve more, cram everything in because I’m young. And while challenge is important and something I do not at all shy away from, I also have to keep in mind that the challenges I seek should be ones that I want to seek because I want to as opposed to because I should. 

You’re always going to wonder if you’ve made the right decision… Should I continue traveling because, as a plethora of people point out, I’m still young? Should I start to settle and establish roots because I’m getting to the age where I need to “get my stuff together”? Shouldn’t I be taking my job a little more seriously?

Then you’ve got one more pressure…the pressure of making the right decision.

Obviously, you’ll never know if the decision you’ve made is the “right” one until you’ve actually made it and seen the results yourself. And as a friend pointed out, you also can’t spend all of your time thinking about the ifs, ands, or buts, of something that you simply can’t predict. That no one can predict. You’ve just got to listen to your heart in the moment, choose a path, and commit to it 100%.

As for having a plan…as much as I’d personally like to have something specific in mind, I just can’t piece it together right now. What I’m trying to do is accept that that’s okay. And as another friend pointed out, if you can’t figure out exactly what it is you want to do, what you can plan are the types of challenges you would like to have. For example, I know that my plan involves teaching and writing, a lot of writing. Published works hopefully. Teaching in what capacity and where and writing what exactly? No clue. But that’s okay. The answers will come to me in their own time. And they will be my own.

As for now…I’ve still got a full six months left here to enjoy. And so, rather than attempting to connect the future blur of dots that I can’t see clearly, my goal is to focus on connecting the dots with where I am right now. Rather than constantly jumping ahead and being preoccupied about the future, I’ve got to fully commit to the decision I’ve already made to live in Gijon.

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