Chapter 5: Making Your Own Decisions
For as long as I can remember, every part of my life had a plan to be followed. From home life to education, it always felt like every minute of my time was already accounted for. As a first-generation American, I always felt an immense amount of pressure to stay on course. Whatever you do, don’t deviate from the plan because you’re lucky to even have one in the first place. But what happens when you stray off of the beaten path and start making decisions that aren’t pre-approved? Naturally, making unexpected decisions can feel like you’re flipping your life upside down. But as someone who has been making a lot of big decisions lately, what if I told you that sometimes deviating from your plans can open doors you would’ve never imagined walking through? Sometimes, we need to experience something different in order to decide what we really want for ourselves.
As a first-generation student, I understand how hard that can feel. There’s an undeniable amount of guilt I felt anytime I did something for myself, and not for the benefit of my family. Making “selfish” decisions made me anxious and paralyzed. I found myself constantly looking over my shoulders for some confirmation that any choice I was making was the right one for me, and most importantly my loved ones. I didn’t realize that I’d grown into a 22-year-old adult with serious decision-making issues. These issues that undoubtedly stemmed from constantly striving for perfection, and doing everything I could to make my family proud.
After coming to this realization, I immediately shifted into high gear and decided that I wanted to take my life into my own hands. For the first time in my life, I began to consider my feelings about my own life. And guess what? A lot of the things I was doing just didn’t feel right for me anymore. That epiphany unleashed a series of life-changing decisions that have placed me in what is now a point where I feel the most inner peace I’ve ever felt. Of course, the journey to get to this place was difficult and triggering. I had to face disappointment head-on, and deal with the death of many dreams. But if there’s anything I’ve learned in the past few months is that the only dreams worth chasing are the ones that belong to you, and only you.
If you find yourself in a place where you want to take control over your own life, but you’re afraid of the aftermath, I advise you to start small and work your way up. You can start as small as deciding what doctor's office you want to go to, or what tasks you genuinely want to prioritize throughout your day. When we start taking control of the smaller aspects of our lives, we find ourselves slowly shaping our reality, one decision at a time.
Remember that change is constant, but it's up to you to decide what kind of change you want to see in your life, and implement it. Fear is a normal feeling to have when taking control of the wheel but, believe it or not, it gets easier. And over time you’ll realize that you’re able to make decisions more authentically and with ease.