by Kavita Battula, VPG Contributor
I feel like I’ve dedicated my life to making decisions by consensus, largely because I didn’t believe that my choices or opinions were as important as other people’s. For context, I am a 46-year-old adult with an Ivy League education. I am also a woman raised in an Indian household, who learned the value of not being too loud, or too much. I also developed the belief that others know best. While seeking consensus is important when making group decisions, when it comes to making decisions for myself, my default is to ask someone else (or many someones) before I proceed.
And yes, there are times when it makes sense to ask mom/dad/elder for input, given their experience and wisdom. But after a few decades of my own bona fide adulthood, I’m discovering that maybe, just maybe, there are times when I know best (for me).
Agency is a term I’ve come to know and appreciate. To me, agency means we have the right to make choices that suit us. What to wear, what to eat, what job to take – this is for us to decide. And if we make a mistake, we adjust. Perfectionism and procrastination often stem from the fear that whatever we do will be wrong. What would happen if we trusted in our ability to make the best decision we can with the information we have at the time? The answer is growth.
I find that making the same, safe decisions (e.g. ones that please other people) keeps me small. Opportunities that have changed my life for the better have emerged when I was willing to be bold, to step outside my comfort zone, to pursue a path that those around me advised against. These adventures have brought me struggle for sure, but each has moved me forward on my path, with a tremendous skill set and experience to show for it. Bumps and bruises, to me, are the privilege of a life well lived. I intend to continue to embrace what I, as a woman of color, have been told couldn’t or shouldn’t be done. Not out of disrespect, but out of my commitment to breaking barriers for us all.
What you think, feel, and believe matters. You are the expert in your life. You get to choose. Believe in yourself. It is your opinion that matters most.