Are You Sure?

Are you sure?

I feel like we’re asked this question a lot in our lives, starting at a ridiculously young age. “Are you sure” really begins to be serious when you’re a senior in high school and making a decision about college. You make a choice. Someone asks, “Are you sure?”

Then you choose a major, because at 18 you’re expected to know precisely what you want to do with the rest of your life. And again someone asks, “Are you sure?”

You graduate, you find a career. You accept a job offer. And someone asks, “Are you sure?”

You meet someone, you decide you want to be with them. The question comes, “Are you sure?”

You decide to move, you decideĀ  to find a new job, you decide to have kids, or not to have kids, and always someone asks, “Are you sure?”

Well I think we’re all in a world of trouble, because if anyone out there is remotely like me, your answer to that question is most often “No.”

I used to find a great deal of comfort in being sure of things. Certain that I was on the right path for me, certain that every decision I made was the right one, and every person I was with was the right one. But it didn’t take terribly long to realize that certainty doesn’t really exist. You can never be sure, as much as you may want to be. You can be sure of certain aspects of your life, and aspects of your decisions, but I don’t know if you can ever be truly, 100%, without-a-doubt certain that a major life decision is the right one. All you can do is look at what’s in front of you, try to figure out what you want and what’s best for you (which are hopefully one in the same), and then make the choice that gets you closest to that. And frankly, you could choose wrong. All of the false certainty in the world is still just that – false. Or you could make the right decision based on who you are and what you want now, only to find that, 5 years down the line, you want something different. Our lives are constantly in flux, and the question “Are you sure?” implies a sort of permanence to our wants and desires that isn’t necessarily accurate. I know very few people whose dreams have stayed precisely the same as they were fifteen years ago.

For those out there who do find certainty, I applaud you. I admire your ability to know yourself so well. I envy you the concrete decisions you are able to make. No second thoughts, no backward glances. And really, we should all work against backward glances. Because once you make a decision, the power to move forward lies with you. It is a choice to stick with your decision, and a choice to keep following the path you’ve started down.

For my part, the only thing I’m sure of most days is that quite frankly, I’m not sure at all.

And that’s okay.

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