The hardest part about being a grownup, for me, is all the decisions that have to be made on a daily basis. There are big ones: Which contractor will I choose to do repair work on my house? Cool SUV or economical Honda Civic? And there are small ones: Heels or flats? Herbal tea or black?
Some people are very good at making decisions. They seem to do it without even thinking too much about the possible consequences. I’m not one of those people. Somewhere along the line I developed an intense dread of choosing wrong. On the Amazing Race, when the teams come to a point where they have a choice between two tasks, some of them invariably choose badly and end up having to start over. It kills me to watch it, every time. Because the only thing worse than choosing wrong is having witnesses.
More than once I have been so immobilized by decisions that I have allowed them to be made for me. Either I left them up to other people, or, more often, I put off choosing at all until, one by one, the options disappeared, leaving me to live with whatever was left. That passive approach may have been easier in the short run, but it also left me perpetually wondering if what I ended up with was what I really wanted, or only what I accepted. And that turned out to be not such a good thing, either.
A couple of summers ago, my sister Meghan’s good friend Janna got married in a small outdoor ceremony. It was a casual event by the side of a lake, but it was full of so much joy and celebration that I still think of it as one of the best weddings I have ever attended. The weather was perfect, Meghan, who was very pregnant with Madge at the time, sang during the ceremony, and the bride and groom wrote their own very sweet, very personal vows. One of the things I remember most about it was Janna saying to her soon-to-be husband, again and again in front of family and friends and everybody, “I choose you.” I both admired and envied the simple resolution in her voice as she spoke those words, and I’ve thought of them a lot since that wedding. Someday I’d like to be able to say to someone, “I choose you.” And mean it.
It’s never going to be easy. The looming fear of future regret will continue to keep me frozen in the aisles of the grocery store, pondering whether to buy the super-cheap bulk pack chicken at Costco or the much more expensive (but healthier and more humane) organic variety at Whole Foods. But after all this time, one very grownup truth has finally started to sink in.
Even choosing wrong, even choosing wrong with WITNESSES, is better than not choosing at all.