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Monday, September 19, 2011

The Stress of Decision-Making, and How to Trust Yourself

Making decisions is never easy, especially when those decisions affect your life in a substantial way, yet we are faced with big and little choices every day. What do I order at Dairy Queen? Which backpack should I buy? What school should I go to? Here is my story, and my advice for making it through those big life changes, making important decisions, and trusting you've chosen the right path.

When you're a kid your parents make the majority of those big decisions for you. But once you become an adult and enter the "real world" that responsibility falls into your hands. You get to pick which school to go to, if any. You can choose to move into your own place, or to a new city, or even a new country. For many, this new-found freedom is mostly exciting and liberating, but fear usually sets in at some point. Will my parents approve of my decisions? Am I in the right program? What if I end up hating this city I'm moving to? What if this doesn't work out? What if I've made the wrong choice?

The first thing you want to do is take a deep breath. Get out a pen and a piece of paper and write down what's on your mind. Make a list of the things you need to decide upon. Make a brainstorming sheet of ideas. If you're trying to pick a university to go to, make a Pros and Cons list. Get a glass of water, a box of chocolate, and start making some choices.

First, think about how the decision will directly affect you. If you choose University A over B, you will have to pay more tuition. If you take the nice apartment with the crazy high rent instead of the small apartment with the affordable rent you'll have to work more hours. If you move to a new city you'll have to find your way around, meet new people, and travel farther to see your family. Cause and effect. Are you willing to deal with the "If I do this, I will have to..."'s?

You also have to consider how these choices will affect others. For example, if you move to a new city will that upset your parents? Do their opinions mean so much to you that they could sway your opinion?

The next question you need to ask yourself is, have I looked at all of my options? Make sure you look at each situation from every possible angle. Talk to a friend and get their opinion, or talk to a family member. You can never get enough insight.

The biggest thing to remember is that no choice is permanent. You can always change your major. You can always move back home. You can always get your hair cut and died. You have to trust in your decisions, and take a chance. You can ponder for a long time, but the time will come when you must act and when you do, do so openly. You'll never find out what lies ahead if you never move forward.

There will come a time when you will break down and doubt yourself. For me, this time comes about once every three or four months, and it always happens when I'm in a perfectly good mood. All of a sudden I find myself lying face-down on my bed sobbing because I've "made all the wrong choices and nothing is going to work out and life just sucks!" The best thing to do in these situations is to let yourself have a good cry, call a friend or family member for some reassurance that everything will be all right (because it will all work out, trust me), pick yourself up, and move on. It's okay to feel like your world is falling apart sometimes. Just know that life will always find a way to work itself out, and that a pint of Haagen-Dazs is never far away.

Twitter: @SororitySisKels

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