HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Lana Hobbs’ blog Lana Hobbs the Brave. It was originally published on November 5, 2013.
I have trouble making basic decisions. Big decisions are paralyzing.
I’m nearing the end of my first semester back to school. My one class was a pretty fun, fairly easy fiction writing workshop. It was an elective. I took it more for the chance to be around other adults than anything else.
And now here I am, facing a new semester with two classes, one for my minor and one for my major. More serious classes, requiring more serious brain engagement. I don’t know whether to take them or quit college again.
I am majoring in Media Communications, but other majors have begun to appeal to me. So what should I do? Do I even want to major in MC? I don’t know.
Do I even want to go to school at all? Do I want a job afterwards or should I skip it all and stick to trying to write and get published?
I’m not used to making decisions like this.
My future was all planned out. After finishing homeschooling, I was going to go to college. Then in college, I got married and was going to quit school if I got pregnant (I ended up quitting earlier), and then I was going to be a stay at home mom, and have ‘as many children as God gives us’ (no decision necessary). Then I was going to homeschool those children, then in 30 or forty some years when all the kids were grown up and graduated, I would have time to write.
It was all decided.
But we’ve decided not to have any more kids, at least for now. We’re not planning to homeschool, and in fact are going to send the kids to part time preschool next semester. And with those decisions, my future is no longer all planned out.
I have options for the future. I might get the first real job of my life in the next few years.
And I am terrified.
As stifling as a scripted life can be, it’s safe; it’s comfortable in a cramped sort of way. I didn’t have to take responsibility for many decisions.
I no longer have my mom scheduling my homeschool day, or my dad telling me what major he thinks would be helpful to my husband. I no longer have God insisting I be a submissive, stay at home wife and mom.
I decide where to go and when (mostly nowhere), and I decide what to major in, if anything.
And sometimes I miss the days when i didn’t have to make and own my decisions. It’s terrifying to hold your life in your own hands.
Does anyone want to boss me around?
But no. Because even if I hand the decision making to someone else, I still have to live my life and live with the choices I make (even if that choice is to follow other’s prescriptions for life).
There is no perfect decision maker, there is no formula for a perfect life. There’s just me, trying to do the best I can do, and owning my decisions.
I completely understand. Making decisions for me continues to be one of the hardest things I have to do. At first I tried to help myself by gathering as much information about the results of the different choices, but I soon realized that I still had to make a decision about which outcome was the most desirable. I still gather all the info, but that whole process made me realize one key thing:
I did not know what I liked or what I wanted.
When your whole life is scripted out for you, when you’re told to do things a certain way at specific times, when you’re told what you do and do not like, then you lose your sense of identity. Or rather, you never develop one. I think of it like the indoctrination concept presented in Mass Effect: a perfect, obedient slave, but remove the master and the indoctrinated is unable to function.
I am so right there with you. I fully expected to be married at twenty, skip the whole college thing altogether and be a sahm. Suddenly, I was in my mid twenties with no prospects in sight, needing to find a job with no college education; and I was terrified.
*sigh* I remember this. The worst is when your dad decides it’s all YOUR fault, for not being “assertive” enough.
If your mother “sacrificed” to stay home and smother you for 20 years… then it must be YOUR fault, daughter, that you aren’t bold enough. “We gave everything we had”… ergo, there must be something wrong with YOU.
Fast forward 5.5 years and…
I’ve been to see them exactly twice. In all this time.
I guess the assertive finally kicked in.