This blog is not FDA approved
When Le Clown asked me to participate, my first question was: what terrible secret would I have to divulge? He played it down, but I knew better. So, kids, here is my secret: I don’t want to choose.
Now, you might think that everyone would say that. And indeed, most of us dream of being able to have everything they want, rather than compromise. Most of us, though, are able to stop at healthy striving for self-fulfilment, rather than let it turn into a downward spiral of dissatisfaction.
My ‘silver spoon in mouth’-themed life taught me that I didn’t have to make choices. As a young girl, I succeeded in everything that was set before me. I have always achieved what I wanted, whether by birth, by luck or by hard work; but I did it nevertheless.
And it only got better; everything was changeable. If I wasn’t sure about a degree, I could get another one; and so I did (and then once more). When I got bored with one country, I moved to another (England, you were only my 4th choice but I love you deeply nevertheless).
But, as I grew older, suddenly things didn’t click. I had to start making decisions – that meant making a choice and giving up one thing for another – that would impact me long-term and be irreversible (gasp).
I met the love of my life, and he asked me to marry him. Did I have doubts? Of course I did. Did I wonder if that would stop me fulfilling some of my plans? You bet. But I have made the conscious decision to do it. To risk it. (I may be an exception. I still meet people saying they knew something was destined to happen, and I wonder – can one really not even question life, no matter how good?)
See, I stopped believing in fate a long time ago. Maybe it’s my pride; I could never settle for the fact that a predestined string of events could be what my life was all about. I wanted to make things happen. I wanted choice to be my guiding principle; I would be the decision-maker.
Sounds good? So I thought.
But, here’s the conundrum. When you replace fate with choice, you have to accept the probability of mistakes. I cannot blame what happens in my life on something beyond my power anymore, something that was ‘meant to be’, whether good or bad. I actually have to start being accountable for my life. I have to recognize that my mistakes are only my own; that I alone can make or break my life.
Suddenly, the same choice that I’ve embraced as my guiding principle crippled me. I got scared of making decisions. I didn’t want to accept the responsibility. Crucially, I didn’t want to give anything up; and it’s hardly ‘making a choice’ if you do not commit one way or another. I made a silent pact with myself: I would just cede my right to choice by letting things happen. Somehow I justified to myself that it was different from believing in fate; it was simply giving things time to unravel at their own pace.
New career? It’s recession / difficult market I would be getting into / not enough experience. A baby? I’ve only lived in four countries so far, still haven’t visited X, Y and Z, need to refurbish the house. Me and my husband growing apart because of my fear of sharing? That will surely go away soon / it’s not really a problem / everything is fine and we don’t even fight. [Insert an unending list of choices and decisions I've decided not to make.]
To use this tired cliché, I wanted to have my cake and eat it.
But, dammit, you cannot be a thinking person and continue like that for long. Last year’s realisation that shedding the responsibility for my life would lead me to losing it was transformational, if spectacularly painful. I wanted to reduce that pain by making a deal with myself:
Okay, Self, I promise to start making decisions. My first one: I decide I’m over this crisis of self-belief, self-acceptance and self-actualisation.
Ha! As you can imagine, it wasn’t as simple as that. I fought back – still do – like an angry little vixen. Only thanks to my friends, counselling sessions with my therapist, my husband’s patience and hundreds of hours spent looking inside and picking myself apart, I’m starting to work through that fear of responsibility.
I was hoping this post could finish with some good advice or an inspiring story of a winner. I’m afraid the road ahead is still long and twisting. But maybe when I figure it all out, I hope to be a better wife and a good (future) mother, and most importantly: a happy, calm and fulfilled person. Because those few times when I have taken the plunge and risked it – like marrying my husband – were the best decisions of my life.