Once, after receiving my very first job offer letter, I went to the nearest Starbucks, bought a venti-sized beverage, and contemplated for hours whether I should take the job or not.
I remember the interview went quite well. The CEO especially showed a great interest in recruiting me as soon as possible. I recall trying to tell him that I hadn’t even received a confirmation letter from the university to state that I have graduated, but he insisted for me to give him a prompt response for the offer he made.
I should have been thrilled to get the job. I mean, the company might be new, but the team looked solid and friendly. The industry sounded promising. The office location was reachable by Transjakarta. The company was funded by one of the biggest conglomerates in Indonesia—basically, there was no apparent reason for me to refuse at the time.
And yet, it took me hours before I made up my mind and took the job, simply because I was afraid I would be making the wrong decision.
I’ve always been scared to take risks. It doesn’t matter big or small, I just didn’t want anything to do with potentially disappointing others, and perhaps more importantly, disappointing myself.
It was perhaps this acute level of paranoia that drove me to be extra cautious of everything. I always double-check my tasks and exam sheets, edit my manuscript multiple times even long before I submit them to my editor, and make several copies of my ID just in case. With these being said, I couldn’t even fathom why I managed to travel alone in 2016, given how paranoid I can be.
“I think you’ve got to have plans for everything,” a friend of mine, Vinn, once said when we were on our way home from campus. “Nothing would freak you out if you have planned it out already. So there would be no reason to be afraid.”
I don’t remember why we had that conversation, but I remember being in Vinn’s car; a silver-colored sedan with a classic tape that used to play everything from Eros Ramazzotti, Betharia Sonata, 2NE1, and even AKB48. There used to be four people (Vinn and I included) who rode this car home from college since we lived relatively close to each other.
“But what if the plan failed?”
“Just switch to plan B.”
“What if there is no plan B?”
The thing about decision-making is that you would never know what to expect until you’ve made your decision. As someone who is really concerned about making the wrong decision, I tend to waste time worrying about things that have not happened yet.
Now unlike doing a project, or task, or homework, you can’t really plan how one decision would turn out.
I mean, I could see Vinn’s point that having plans would ease my mind. But how was I supposed to plan ahead what would happen after I joined the startup company that eventually became my very first job?
I never thought that the CEO would resign after a year, for example. Neither would I have imagined that all the faces I saw that morning when I went for the interview would be long gone in 4 years time. I also couldn’t have possibly foreseen how the business had changed over the years, and how I would fit into the company in the long run.
And the same thing applies in smaller scales as well. Would you know for sure that a certain restaurant would serve good food before you’ve tried it yourself, for example? Your friends and all the food bloggers could swear by their tasty delicacies, but you could always be the odd one out who doesn’t enjoy their food as much.
Or in education—just because you’ve decided to enter a prestigious university, does that guarantee your future? I’m sure it will up your chances of landing a job considerably, but nothing is really set in stone. The once seemingly right decision could very well turn you into a huge pile of regret and despair in the future—who would have known?
This led me to accept the fact that I could never plan out how my decision would turn out—hence I could never feel at ease.
But is it such a bad thing, I wonder? The feeling of unease.
Years later, when I have experienced the full brunt of consequences of a certain decision I made in March of 2014, I came to realize something.
If there is always a chance that one decision could turn “bad”, then perhaps there is never a “right decision” in the first place. Maybe I shouldn’t have worried so much about taking the wrong turn. Maybe, just like traveling, I should have trusted where my feet want to walk and live with the consequences of the route I take with vigor, and not regret.
Four years ago, when I accepted the job offer, I never knew I would be standing here today, writing about that very moment in a blog post while reminiscing all the fun, the bad, and the horrifying times I’ve had working in the said company. Sure, a lot of things had gone haywire, and sometimes I even wondered how I could endure all the hardships.
But does that mean I would take a different path, given I could turn back the time?
Possibly. Since I already know what would happen if I accepted the job, I might as well turn it down given another opportunity, just to see where life would take me. But I’m sure no career path is 100% flowery and easy. And if we know there are good and bad things that would happen with either decision, I think making a decision is just that: choosing one scenario over the other; not necessarily choosing the better one.
There was never a plan B.
If anything, then failing is my plan B.
It was perhaps this progressive level of comprehension inside me that soothed my mind the other day when I received yet another job offer from a different company. My mind tried its best to analyze the pros and cons of joining said company—the company size, the compensation, the job description, the prospect of career advancements, the facilities—you know, the standard stuff.
My heart was pounding when I dialed their number to let them know of my decision. But this time, it wasn’t because of fear. It was a weird sense of excitement that I felt when I came to a conclusion. Because my mind was thinking of thousands of things this could go wrong, but my heart was telling me otherwise.
The feeling of unease never really disappeared. But I recognize it dearly now, staying at the back of my subconsciousness, knocking the door whenever I’m going to make a decision that would change my life.
Should I be afraid of making the wrong decision?
Should I have a plan B, just in case?
Those might have been the questions I would formulate if I were given the same opportunity a year ago. Between understanding how I think and how I feel about something, I would’ve most likely been paralyzed with fear of failure, and would just ignore the phone calls even though I know that wouldn’t be professional.
But things are different now.
I’ve made my decision.
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