By: Rochelle Ruth
When you are trying to relearn who you are, it can be difficult to make decisions. Even simple decisions like what you want to eat can feel daunting. After my divorce from my husband of 16 years, I found that I had negotiated so much of myself away to being a wife and mother, I didn’t even know what I liked to eat or do, let alone what I wanted out of life, once on my own again.
One thing that truly helped me was to make a choice about every single thing. I didn’t let someone else choose for me, or passively pass it off to another. I weighed in on each option or opportunity presented. Do I like working out? Do I like scrapbooking? Do I like seeing a counselor? Do I like my hair long? I did this exercise for about a year. If I couldn’t decide between two breakfasts, I ordered both, ate some of each, and brought the rest home. While eating, I would ask myself, “What do I like about this? What don’t I like about it? Why?” Same for activities- if friends asked me to do something, I would say yes and while out with them, I would ask myself if I was enjoying the activity or if this was something I was doing because they enjoyed it? Even if it was because they enjoyed it, I still would honor the fact that I didn’t. For instance, I hate hiking, but several of my close friends love it. I enjoy their company and hiking doesn’t hurt me, so I don’t mind doing it, especially if they reciprocate by going to a hot Pilates class they really don’t like with me.
There were much harder decisions to make, of course, like, should I move? Should I change jobs? Should I go back to school? The answer ended up being yes to all these life changing questions, and just as wondering what to eat, these decisions were accompanied with the questions of why I did or didn’t like my choices. What happened in the year of thoughtfully analyzing my decisions was a sense of knowing myself better. I stopped feeling indifferent about everything all the time. Choosing allowed me to feel more confident, more authentic, and in turn, it led me to a job where I had the best year of teaching in my entire career, I met wonderful colleagues and friends, and ultimately chose to change my entire life by going back to graduate school and pursue a lifelong dream of writing.
I still ask myself why I like things or not, but not as frequently as I did in that first year. I still look for new activities I might enjoy and try them a couple of times before I decide about really liking them or not; do I love stand-up paddle boarding? Yes. Do I love playing beach volleyball? No. Would I know these things if I had never tried them? Not for sure. I make a decision a day about what I like or what I will do, at the very least, and I know myself better now than I have in 20 years.
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Rochelle Ruth grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and currently resides in New Orleans, where she plans to stay. She has been an educator for 20 years, with a background in Human Development of Adolescent Behavior and two teaching credentials under her belt. She is a mother of two “adult” children, a former wife, and a forever student, on her own once again. Rochelle is passionate about interpersonal connectedness, love, and identity. You can follow Rochelle on IG @decision_a_day.