As I've gotten older I feel like I've gotten less decisive. When I was a kid, I was super picky about the foods I liked and didn't like, to the point of refusing to eat if the meal wasn't in my sanctioned list of meals. In my free time, I dedicated myself fully to video games. It was like routine: finish homework, log on and grind the skills. There was a competitive drive to climb the ranks, pick up on the meta game, and hone the finer mechanics. My life fit into a neat schedule, where each commitment received its proper amount of time.
As I've gotten older, I've become more uncertain in what I want and what I want to dedicate myself to because of how my goals have broadened. Instead of having singular goals to focus on (maintain a perfect GPA, reach the top tier in League), my life is about more ambiguous matters now. A singular goal just feels incompatible because it feels unsatisfying. I crave the fulfillment of something deeper than a status symbol or passing a societal goal post. While climbing the career ladder is something relatively straightforward, it’s also limited in its capacity for satisfaction. I feel like we’re taught to chase things that look good in a society rather than things that give us deeper fulfillment. I like how my friend Oeishi has vocalized stability as “contributing to whatever emotionally fulfills me in the moment” and wanting to make those moments “consistently present.” We’re taught to chase a career rather than hone a craft
I also like how ava vocalizes that we have what we want and we are what we choose; we don’t need to always derive it from someone or something else. In her post, she quotes Carl Jung who says “A man who is possessed by his shadow is always standing in his own light and falling into his own traps... living below his own level.” Sometimes it’s hard to acknowledge our shadow self when it vocalizes something we don’t want, but part of being decisive is being true to your whole self, even those unconscious desires that we don’t want to face. An example of one of my unconscious desires is my desire to look good in front of others. My default state is to care about how other people perceive me which puts a lot of pressure on my day-to-day in a new environment because I feel constantly “on,” like I have to constantly perform.
I’m still figuring out what it means to fully embrace my shadow self and live in harmony with it, but in the meantime, I’m also trying to vocalize the desires that I’m not bashful about: the things that I’d shout from the top of the world if asked to profess my allegiance. I'm drawn to optimistic ideals and building real-world utopias rather than getting ahead in an unfair system. I want to believe in futures that seem unbelievable. I want to trust in a hope that seems too good to be true. I want to work towards a world that’s better than the one we were born in rather than resigning myself to what it is.
Part of that stubborn belief in the ability to create something better is embracing play. I’ve had a recent commitment to embrace more play in my day to day, following my intuition for what feels right and my creative urges for what seems fun. I used to flail in my decisiveness when it came to these urges because I worried about looking bad, as part of my unconscious desire to look good in front of other people. This desire often comes into conflict with my intuitive urges for what I want to try because I’m naturally curious, which is why I gravitate towards psychologically safe spaces and vibe tribes. I’m trying to be more intentional in setting up structures that allow me to be more decisive in choosing the things that I actually want rather than following the flow.
This is the 40th installment in my experiment of publishing raw, lightly edited mini-essays every day towards achieving 100 public pieces. Check out the rationale and the full list here or view my evergreen, longer pieces on my website.