I paused, pursing my lips as I watched the water run hot into the coffee pot.
Swirling the murky brown liquid, I lifted the glass container high as I poured its contents into the sink. “I don’t know,” I responded thoughtfully, “I guess stay in California and work for a bit?”
“That would be fun!” Diana said, bracing her giant pregnant belly as she shifted uncomfortably in her chair. She sat pensively watching the two blonde haired boys fighting playfully on the living room floor, lifting her eyes briefly to gaze out the window at the quiet street below.
“You could go anywhere, do anything. You really could,” eyebrows raised, she shot an intentioned glance at me, the nubile college freshman, home for the summer to help her out around the house.
“I do like to cook, I think,” I said. “Maybe I’ll travel, go to cooking school in France, live there for awhile?” I asked, as though poking for Diana’s permission or approval.
Drying my hands on a kitchen towel and tossing it onto the counter, I turned to look at Diana’s face as I leaned against the sink and crossed my arms, anchoring myself against dreaming too big.
“You totally could,” Diana smiled, “It would be amazing,” she sat back in her chair, “You could do anything.”
“I could,” I thought aloud, although the words didn’t feel quite right as they spilled out of my mouth. Again I whispered, mostly to myself, “I guess I could.”
But College Me had a lot of feelings. College Me was scattered, insecure and scared as hell of making the wrong decision and messing everything up.
What if I picked the wrong major? What if I dated the wrong guy? What if I picked the wrong lunch option in the dining hall? There were way too many big decisions for my young, impressionable mind to process and it left me paralyzed and fearful.
Shit, I STILL feel this way.
I still obsess over every decision, every mistake and every failure. Even hints of success bring only momentary comfort, after which I immediately return to my usual, totally freaked out mode.
And it’s unfortunate, because when I look back on all the decisions I’ve made in life — both the ones I feel good about, and the ones I probably botched — I wouldn’t take any of them back.
Sure, there are moments when curiosity gets the better of me and I wonder “what if? Where would I be today?” But I can tell you that I am, deep down, truly happy with where I am right now.
And the things that I so desperately want to change — my career direction, the amount of money in my bank account, my kids driving me batshit — all of these things are fixable. I can literally take steps today to work toward changing them.
So, what about you? Are you scared? Are you constantly wondering if you’re living your best life and making the right decisions?
You don’t say. Me, too.
In my early 30’s, with many of the questions I sweated in my college diary (my future partner, kids, career) answered, I still can’t relax. Every mistake, every decision calls out to the part of myself that obsesses about The Big Picture: but what if I fuck everything up?
It makes sense, if you think about it. You only have one life, one chance to do this thing right.
OMG, WHAT IF YOU BLOW IT???
But what if you don’t? And what if the bigger regret will one day be that you never even tried?
Take a risk, make a move, practice stepping out in faith. There isn’t a whole lot in this life you can’t come back from, aside from hard drugs and drunk driving.
I say, go for it.
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