A laundry list of decision-making advice
If only this were a video game where I could go back and retry each time I made the wrong choice
This past week, I had five days to decide between taking a position abroad for the next year or staying in Boston and chilling out with my friends during their senior year. I like to think that I’m not a particularly indecisive person. It’s pretty easy for me to pick something random to order at a restaurant or put on a movie that I’ll probably enjoy, because those things don’t really have that big of an impact on my overall life.
As someone who tries their hardest to meticulously plan their entire life, I don’t often have to make big life decisions in such a short period of time. But, obviously, the pandemic threw my perfect four-year plan out the window, and I was left choosing between an adventure of a lifetime or a guaranteed good time with my friends in a city I know and love.
Aside from the light-hearted jokes to flip a coin, I received a lot of incredibly useful advice, as well as some lines that sent me spiraling, so I thought I’d share them for anyone else agonizing over a decision.
“Saying yes to one thing means saying no to another.” My friend perfectly encapsulated my original dilemma with this sentence. It reminded me of the movie Mr. Nobody (2009), where a child had to choose between his parents, who are going through a divorce. The movie details multiple lives and paths that would come from either choice. I often thought about decisions as deciding to live one life and killing off all the others. And I usually don’t want to kill off the other possibilities; I want to play a video game where I can finish one storyline and go back to play through every other one. But in some sense, it would be greedy to want to live more than one life when we’re all given just one.
“The things that I thought really mattered back then turned out not to matter at all.” This line directly referenced my worries about FOMO. As 2022s, my classmates and I have already lost our Ring Delivery, and by graduating this year, I would be leaving my class behind. I wanted to attend Senior Ball, meet the incoming first years, and continue to play my part in the clubs that have become home for me. This sentence reminded me of things I had held out for in the past that turned out to be minimally important (read: skipping my CPW because I thought I had to stay and do something else).
“There’s no wrong choice.” At first, this one really frustrated me. I’d heard it before, from the same people, and I just wanted a more definitive answer. Ultimately, I realized I wanted someone else to make the choice for me, so that if I regretted it in the future, at least it wouldn’t have been my fault. While that tactic worked for my chemistry lab mate choosing a mystery amino acid, there was no way that anyone else could make this kind of decision for me. But after really letting it sink in, I realized they were right. In the same vein was the advice, “You’re smart; if you can’t distinguish a right choice, it’s because both options are equally good or equally bad.” Clearly I had two equally good options, and regardless of which I chose, as long as I am doing something that I am happy doing next year, it would be worth it.
“We’ll support your choice no matter what.” Coming from friends and family, this meant so much to me. Sure, leaving everything behind means I would need to regrow a support network, but I also worried it meant I would leave a me-sized hole here in Boston. Being reminded that video chat does in fact exist and that my relationships here wouldn’t fizzle out helped give me the peace of mind to make the best decision for me.
So, to the adMITs still mulling over where to attend university, the friends choosing internships and next semester’s classes, and my peers choosing their next step in life: as long as we make the most of the decisions we make, we’ll be alright.