Make Your Own Decisions
I have been indecisive as f**k since I can remember.
The character of Chidi Anagonye in NBC's 'The Good Place' really hit me square in the jaw.
His (literally) fatal flaw is... not being able to make a decision.
In high school, decisions were easier. I wanted to dance. I wanted to get good grades, and I wanted to lose my virginity in a way that didn't screw me up for life: Mission Accomplished. In the summer before 12th grade, my family moved half an hour from my former school, and the decision to switch schools or finish strong in my old haunt ripped me apart. I was grossly emotional all summer. 'Poor me' ran on loop in my mind. I look back at high school Loosh and fully face palm. Why did I have to be so EMO about it? If I wanted to keep going to my old school it was incredibly doable. And after deciding to switch schools, why did I mope all year and eat lunch in the bathroom when I could have accepted the decision I made and ran with it?
Ehhh, no use dwelling on high school Loosh. She had to learn some how.
That moment set me on a decade-ish path I'm calling: "Just Let The World & Other People Decide For Me!" And what a great way to learn all the things I didn't want... toxic relationships, deep worthiness issues in my career, a lot of unfulfilling jobs, an inefficient, booze-filled body and a brain that heckled more than it helped.
Things shifted for me in adorably sluggish phases of growth after 2005.
There was first a University track (I wasn't ready for) that 'seemed like what people would want for me'. Then a slow, hard realization that I wanted to keep dancing, (Gasp. A decision!) a move to Vancouver, and the first dance gigs that put my ego in check. Vancouver eventually helped me resolve to properly train with a structured program (one that both set my weird improvisational essence free and made me feel like I'd never be good enough for the smallest contemporary company or commercial gig). When a cruise ship contract was offered in 2009, I made another decision... to drop everything and reinvent myself. I took an open plunge into endless waters, made new friends from new places, had several tragic love affairs (one that lasted 5 years) and discovered a desire to travel forever.
Then, New York: a city I felt forced to move to but never once regretted spending a single moment in. I found an audition stride and a tiny squeak that would become a desire to sing. Still, most decisions were made for me by my partner at the time, and for years I was fine with that--the world felt too big for me to navigate. And I thought, surely, this man I love and everyone around him must know what's best for me...
(Sigh) this is...hard. For me to admit.
I got married, before I was ready, because when 2012 rolled around, I still couldn't take responsibility for my own decisions. The week of my shotgun wedding, I put forth some timid, but emotional arguments, all shot down with the fervor of 'getting it over with'. I deserved better, but I didn't believe it at the time. Honestly, we both deserved better, but at the time we felt like getting married was the only way to stay together without being stressed out all the time about employment and immigration. If there's ANY decision you should probably give yourself real time to consult yourself internally before making...marriage is a solid contender for that decision. But hey, I had barely consulted myself internally since 12th grade, so...
(Exhales) Naturally, the next decisions I truly made on my own were somewhat rebellious. Somewhere on my third cruise ship contract I became determined to discover my true potential as a dancer. I planned an audition trip to Salt Lake City (that ended in heartbreak), and bounced back to New York with haste, enrolling in workshops and finally showing up properly to auditions. In 2 weeks I booked two performing jobs that kept me employed for two full years.
And that's when I realized the power of making decisions and running with them.
No more exhaustive pros and cons. No more 'what will everyone think?' I travelled Asia and the US. I volunteered in Guatemala. I spent A LOT of time alone, with books and journals and headphones. I moved to LA. And yes, I got divorced. I sat in the uncomfortable throes of gossip and hard truths. I sat with them until they didn't seem scary any more. I found an internal decision gauge that was simpler and showed infinitely better results than other people's opinions.
I finally pulled up my decision pants and stopped looking back so much. With making my own choices came the release of judgment, a lot of quiet contemplation, and a lot more observation of my innermost self. With decision-making came a realization that I'm powerful and capable and grateful and kind. A vast improvement from putting my value and choices in other people's hands.
I have a simple 3-step mantra tacked to a cork board in my bedroom nook. In the mornings, the San Fernando Valley sunshine hits it just right:
Simplify--because I tend to complicate.
Focus--because I tend to scatter. And...
Let Yourself Come Alive--because I don't want to live in 50/50 mindset anymore. I want to make choices and run hard with them to my fullest potential.
Does it work to it's fullest capacity every day? Probably not. But it's the reminder I need at the beginning and end (and often middle) of the day.
I started 2020 struggling with a lot of decisions...whether to get a new restaurant job, whether to go to NY, whether to take a nonunion show in Cerritos, whether to officially work for Shane's film company in a field I would need to learn a lot more about...social media. I felt the overthinking weighing heavy, and realized, on my birthday, I could just say yes to everything. Stop trying to predict the future. Stop weighing pros and cons of outcomes you could never know. Just say YES to all the things you want to do and figure the rest out as it comes. The result? Every day I feel more like me. Powerful, capable, grateful, and kind. I feel myself tapping a faith I didn't know I had in myself, my relationships and my daily genuine interactions. Obviously, a lot is at play here--including the support of my family, friends, and incredible boyfriend. But the best results and the best feelings in the moment come from a plain desire to make my own decisions...a lesson I have spent almost 2 decades learning. A lesson that I'm sure has even more to teach me.