Most people aren’t aware that you can return almost anything you buy. Over the course of my life I’ve returned everything from skin care products to animals. Decisions are difficult for me and once I’ve made one, I often second-guess it. I’ve had buyers remorse over things as trivial as salad dressing and as consequential as my home. Living with a choice can sometimes be as difficult as making it.
I’ve returned rugs, clothes, shoes, makeup, books and even a leather couch. You know when you’re waiting in line to pay at a store and wonder why there’s a pair of pajamas beside the gum? That’s a tell-tale sign that someone like me has done a “drop-and-go” (which is a classic move for a chronic returner like me). But my most unsuccessful return was when I bought a one-way plane ticket to South Korea.
I had been dating a real rebel-type, motorcycle and all, and he was moving to Korea to teach English. My desire to travel had always been strong and so when he invited me to join him, I leapt at the chance. My Dad gave me a “loan” for the ticket and almost as soon as it was purchased, doubt set in. I had always wanted to backpack around Europe but Korea? No.
As the departure date approached, the little voice in my head started to whisper worries. About a week before I was set to leave, I went with my family to meet my step-sister at the airport. She had been living in Argentina for a year as an exchange student. The arrivals area was buzzing with the anticipation of seeing her again and in all of the excitement, that same little voice was shouting Yes! This moment was the experience I was looking for in my own life. It became clear to me that it wasn’t going to happen in Korea, so I made the choice to cancel my ticket.
I’ve spent a lot of time pondering what makes decisions so hard for me. Growing up, my Dad was very supportive of my choices. When I would ask him for help with a decision he would say, “There’s no wrong path, Sarah. It’s just that on one road, you’ll find raspberries. On the other, blackberries.” You would think that with such a positive approach to decision making I would have been a confident decision maker but that isn’t the case. There have been a lot of Pro vs. Con lists made over the years.
A few years ago on a course I did a personality assessment and was surprised to learn that I was in the Analyzer category. I questioned that classification all the way to the leader of the program who said, “Oh yeah, you’re an Analyzer. The Analyzers always ask me if they’ve been put in the right category.” I was skeptical about my classification until I read through the list of typical characteristics: needs a lot of facts and data to make a decision, often has buyers remorse, and can’t be rushed into a decision.
Seeing myself in this new light was a huge relief. It allowed me to stop being so hard on myself for what I characterized as being a “bad decision maker” and accept that this one part of me, while challenging at times, is just who I am. For once I was able to focus on the positive aspects of being analytical and highlight those strengths.
After all, I hadn’t only made bad decisions. I made some brilliant ones too, especially around the most important decisions a person makes in life. For example, who to marry and whether or not to have kids. And I made these without a lot of hard data. I couldn’t know what my challenges in my marriage or with my children would bring. But I took huge leaps of faith that required me to trust my heart and my personal values.
There are hundreds of little decisions that we make in a day that determine how we feel, how we spend our time and money, and who we spend our time with. We are always choosing. That can be overwhelming when you’re an Analyzer like me. Some choices come more easily than others, especially when I give myself the time to make them and listen to the little voice that is always there, guiding me. Still, someone like me has no business being in a place like Homesense.
My Dad is right about one thing: when I look back on some of my boldest choices, it’s hard to see them as right or wrong. They’ve shaped my life, my story, and have been folded into the batter of my life. On the other hand, my Dad may feel differently – I never did repay that loan.
Sarah is a working mother, freelance writer and inconsistent runner. She lives with her husband, two children and a Puggle on Vancouver Island. She has a love for the written word in all its forms. Learn more about Sarah here.
*Author’s note: It was the creator of The Mind in Motion, David Fyfe, who talked me into finally taking a leap and buying a trailer for my family to camp in. He said it could always be sold (ie. returned) if we didn’t use it. We camp all the time. Thanks David.