How do you know whether a decision is the “right” one?  

This question arose all throughout my college journey, and continues to present itself as I enter the “real world.”  In navigating the twists and turns of being a recent graduate and a career-minded young adult, I have been met with the beautiful challenge of holding onto my values and self-identity, despite the pervasive societal expectations attempting to obstruct my path.

For a long time, I was unaware of how much I had internalized the messages of “needing” to build my resume, find my purpose and sustain my livelihood. These beliefs all developed very gradually, and very subconsciously. Then I had a rude awakening. 

I committed to an opportunity. It sounded great. When I made the decision to commit, my anxiety dissipated.  I thought that the relief I felt meant that I had done something that was true to myself. 

Then, my commitment became my reality. Everything shifted.  

Immediately, things felt off. The reality of the situation (while a great opportunity externally), did not sit right with me. I was shocked and baffled at myself. The fact that the situation was externally “good” made my gut instinct even more unsettling.  I racked my brain, attempting to ground myself in the experience. 

What was my “why” for making the commitment?

I couldn’t find it. 

I soon realized that the reason I couldn’t remember my “why” was because it was an unconscious decision made from my fears, rather than a conscious decision made from my values. 

The anxiety relief I felt in the immediate aftermath of saying yes was simply the feeling of fulfilling my own expectations of myself.  By saying yes, I was checking off a box in society’s rulebook for where I felt I “should” be at this point in my life, at twenty-two with a fresh diploma on the wall.  I chose my fear instead of choosing myself. 

I learned the hard way that doing so has a pervasive, painful impact. 

Yes, there are certain responsibilities that come with being an adult, making a living, and building a career… but these realities are no excuse to give fear the power to drive your life. 

Yes, embracing a “why not” mentality can be a beautiful opportunity for growth, but there is a huge difference between being fearless and making a decision unconsciously. 

Yes, it is important to be grateful for every experience that enters your life, but that does not require commitment to everything that presents itself. 

And, regardless of the outcome,  I am grateful for this experience. 

I am grateful I ended up here, because even though the opportunity wasn’t right for me at this point in my life, it launched me into a new stage of my personal development. It taught me an important lesson about values-based decision-making that I will carry with me forever. 

Through this experience, I have learned that it is not about right or wrong when it comes to making decisions.  Rather, it is about being true to yourself, even when expectations, comparisons and other limiting beliefs creep in.  It is about protecting your energy by setting a boundary between yourself and the world so that you can maintain clear values despite everyone else preaching what “should” be important. It is about taking the steering wheel back and navigating your own journey, rather than abandoning yourself in the face of fear.

From this point forward, I choose intentionality. I choose my values.  I choose myself. 

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