Friday, May 15, 2015

Decision Points

My mom always tells me "make wise choices." It's sort of been her sign off whenever we part and I definitely incorporated the phrase into my own language. When students would leave my classroom, I'd say, "make wise choices" when I am leaving work for the weekend, I tell my colleagues "make wise choices." Maybe its motherly of me, but it really is because I deeply care (which I am horrible at expressing) and I want my friends, families, students, etc. to make the best decisions.

For the past two years, I've been part of that decision process for students and candidates. I take the idea of relocating too lightly because I offer it so frequently that I don't think sometimes I digest just how big of a decision people are making. I work with candidates through the entire process from initial to thought to "yes, I'm making the career change," or "no, I think I am perfectly fine where I am despite having spent the last two months flying all over the country to interview." I follow the process as candidates are initially energetic and enthusiastic and then they possibly become timid and afraid of the change. The challenge. The uncertainty of the unknown is intimidating. Stepping outside your comfort zone is intimidating. It's interesting to see people's approach. Are they autonomous and confident or are they the type that constantly talk to their families about "gut" feelings and just being unsure? Do they make the decision and tell you after or want you as a thought partner throughout the process?

As of the past few months, I've been working with students as they make similar, life-changing decisions. Where to attend college. Do they take the financial burden of a private school for the opportunity of smaller class sizes and individualized attention. Do they maybe go somewhere less academically challenging at the fear of being unprepared for success at that school? Do they decide based on social aspects such as proximity to home and diversity of the student body? Are they confident in their decision from the beginning or are they completely unsure?

There are so many intricate pieces to observe and analyze that I could go on forever on decision making. Recently, I've had the opportunity to make some life-changing decisions for myself. (More on that during a later post.) As I made these decisions, I realized a slight trend that I tend to make in my decision making. I love a challenge. I am bored with complacency and love the feeling of pushing myself beyond my comfort zone (as much of a routined, homebody that I am.) I like the feeling in my stomach that terrifies me, that makes nervous, yet also liberates me all at the same time.

I think back to high school when I traveled to Fiji by myself for a service project. As much excitement as I showed externally, I was terrified. So terrified, that I called my Dad from the LAX airport while having a mental breakdown. Nothing says maturity like sobbing in an airport on the phone with your Dad. I think about deciding to go to Clemson and how terribly bad I wanted to come home that first semester. I missed the comforts of my family, my friends, where I grew up, yet, I challenged myself to say and step beyond my securities to be see what could happen and I ended up loving my time there. I think about moving to Charlotte and becoming a teacher, adopting Henry, buying my first car, moving into an apartment on my own, traveling to Africa, and all of these other times that I did made a decision that intimidated me to my very core.

It's not that I lacked the confidence (sometimes, I think I'm up there with Kayne on the confidence scale) it's that I love the familiarity of what I know and the comfort of my routines. I also realize that most of my recent decisions have been high up on the hierarchy of first world problems. Not necessarily determining where my next meal is coming from but decisions nonetheless. As much as my decisions intimate me and cause uneasiness, I am equally as overwhelmed with excitement as to what the future may hold and the possibilities being unleashed.

Make wise choices!



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