Life Musings

How to make a life changing decision (or just get through life)

Ha. Right? As if I am going to tell you what to do.

Not so much.


I can tell you what I wish people had told me when I was up for a few life changing decisions. When all I could speak over and over was, “I don’t know, I don’t know. Je ne sais pas, you (expletive).” Until the words lost all of their meaning and flew out of my mouth at the slightest hint of inquiry.

how to get through life

Athens, Greece 2011

Because, in that state, I often asked for advice. I took polls. I stared at the question marks until they became shape-shifting shadows of entire lives I could lead. Beings of possibility that circled and cornered and shouted, “Pick me!” “No, choose me!”

I asked my friends. I asked my family. I charted the options in colored pencils on pieces of paper and tried to follow the throughlines.

I looked for a lot of validation.

And when it didn’t come, when the questions persisted without the relief of any answers…

Sometimes I made them up. I rehearsed plans like they were State of the Union addresses, nervously peering at my notecards to make sure all of the details and facts were in logical order.

ducks in a row

Cuenca, Ecuador 2012

Or went around like a crazy person trying to herd ducks. GET IN A ROW. STOP FLAPPING AROUND. I NEED THIS TO WORK.

Just so I didn’t have to say, “I don’t know” one more time to one more person.

Because life demands answers. We demand answers. Of ourselves, of each other. We like to know what’s up. We like to think there’s a sense of order to this spinning-in-space planet instead of admitting the real truth- sometimes we can get a little seasick. Or spacesick. Or, whatever.

There are side effects to being human and it can be dizzying. And cause a fair amount of nausea.

life-changing decision

Isn’t this so cute? I forgot to make a key so I don’t remember what all of the hearts and dollar signs meant but they must’ve been important! Oh yeah, I didn’t actually end up doing any of these things. Ghana, 2013

So here’s what’s up: I love a good color coded flow chart. I love speeches. I love plans and possibilities and cute ducks all in a row.

If that’s what makes all of the spinning and the nausea of being alive subside for a moment, I honor that. I really do. I’m the master of P.O.A.s (Plans of Action, duh) and pros and cons lists. And polls and spreadsheets too.

I get it. And I will look and listen and lean into the relief of that with you.

But here’s what I wish someone (and maybe they did but I couldn’t hear it yet) had told me:

It’s okay not to know.

You don’t have to have it all figured out. Now, or ever.

It’s hard being human.

It’s okay to be still. For as long as you need.

Take your time, there’s no rush.

You are so loved and always will be.


Sigh it out. Cry, if you need to.

I’ve been there too. (And I hope this goofy picture makes you laugh. Because- seals.).

how to live life

Monterey Bay, California. 2010?

Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like


  • Reply The Barefoot Backpacker January 9, 2019 at 7:50 am

    This. So much.

    Over the last few years I’ve realised how much of a control freak I am, even though I do travel quite randomly. It’s quite a bizarre combination, but it basically boils down to “I have to know”. Possibilities, locations – I don’t mind getting a bus through the middle of nowhere but I always feel I need to know where I am at all times. I love waking up and not knowing which country I’ll be inhat night but I have to know all the possibilities.

    As for ‘validation’ … yeh … I think it stems from my teenagerhood, but while I give the impression I don’t care, and even don’t feel comfortable being openly complemented, certainly I feel kind of … embarassed/empty when people don’t notice what I say. It’s why i rarely promote my blog or anything, and why I feel very uncomfortable approaching brands for collaborations etc. Because I don’t like rejection, and the best way to avoid rejection is not to ask, because I feel the need for validation and feel worthless when it’s not forthcoming. Hide under a rock, that’s me. Hermit.

    • Reply Mariah January 15, 2019 at 11:18 am

      I can relate. All the ways we try not to be seen. Put on different masks to be seen as other than who we really are so if we’re rejected it’s not really “us” they’re rejecting. I see and hear your heart beat from across the world and it beats with mine. We are okay and it’s okay to be scared. To try to control. I’m still un-learning the fear of Mystery and life and letting things happen to (for) me instead of making them happen. It’s a process, isn’t it? Sending you love and so honored to share the journey of becoming and traveling and learning with you.

    Leave a Reply

    CommentLuv badge