I always second guess my decisions. It doesn’t matter how simple they are, or how stress free they should be, or would be for others, I somehow find myself grappling with them long after the outcome is already set in stone. There’s just something about the alternatives that are fascinating to me, the idea that a seemingly simple decision could have far-reaching implications I couldn’t even fathom at the time I made it.
Someone once told me to imagine a decision as a stone, and the future as the surface of a lake. Toss that stone into the center of the lake and you’ll get a different reaction, a different set of ripples, than if you dropped it anywhere else. And then every subsequent decision disturbs those ripples before they can complete their waves, shifting them into other patterns that wouldn’t have been possible if they were created on a quiet lake surface.
So I second guess my decisions. For ages after I’ve made them I expect to be disappointed for various reasons. If a decision I make doesn’t drive me insane with its possible implications it’s a rarity indeed. I find it fascinating, then, that some of my biggest decisions were made without much forethought, that they were manufactured on the fly, and the results have been obviously mixed.
I sometimes wish I could have someone to make my decisions for me. That would accomplish so much. For one I would have someone else to blame if things didn’t work out the way I wanted them to. For another I could rid myself of all the second guessing; if the decision was made by someone else my conscience could be clear. But I could never do that in the end because I would regret not being involved. There really are no shortcuts.
Decision #2 – It’s spring, 2004, and I’m in a room surrounded by other teachers in training. We are here to divvy up assignments for student teaching that we will all complete in the fall. Three of us are English majors, and there are five placements on the table that we need to sort out. We each need two of them, so someone will have to find a second placement, but I’m not thinking about that right now. I’m reading the school district names on the cards in front of me: Remsen, Waterville, Utica, Westmoreland, and Sauquoit. Decisions, decisions.
Quickly Westmoreland was gone. One of my colleagues lives there, so we let him have it. Then Utica and Sauquoit follow as they are close in proximity to the other two. Waterville is 50 minutes away from me, and Remsen closer to 30, but my other colleague lives in Remsen so I resign myself to Waterville, and the long commute. She offers to go there instead, seeing the look on my face, but I decide to let her have her hometown. Little did I know then that my chivalrous attitude would lead to a long term job, and would open me up to getting my own hometown school as a second student teaching placement.
It’s these decisions that shape our future, and Waterville definitely helped to shape mine.