1998. Waiting in my car at a stoplight at the corner of Grape and Douglas roads. The bitter freezing winds of the Midwest winter howled through the invisible gaps between window and frame. Dirty, slushy snow was piled up on the curbs all around me. I was 16..17? Just sitting in my car, waiting to turn left, shivering at the thought of the temperature outside, though my car was cozy and heated. My eyes wandered as I waited and I glanced over to the sidewalk. There I saw him: the man whose hands would burn a purple imprint into my mind for the rest of my life. I’d seen him before, waiting for his bus at the bus-stop there. I had always hoped he had a job, and that he was treated well there. He rocked and swayed, and his chin was perpetually tucked. But on this day, I noticed his hands., sticking out from his puffy red jacket, his bare hands. Purple and inflamed, they looked frostbitten with cold. I looked down at my gloves, in my passenger seat. Emerald green, my favorite color back then. My instinctual, gut reaction was to get out and give them to him. I remember visualizing it: seeing myself shoving the gearshift into Park. Quickly jumping out and scurrying across the road to him. And I remember what happened just next.
I recall it as if yesterday. First, “But what if he won’t take them?” Then, “But what if I scare him, or he doesn’t know how to interact and … and.. I don’t know what will happen.” And finally, “But the light will CHANGE, and then people will HONK!” And the light did change. I drove away. Hesitation meant that I rationalized. And “rationalizing” meant I didn’t act. Isn’t that always the case? I know it is for me. I didn’t know that the moment would come with me. But it did. It lodged so deep that I’ve thought about it every winter. And every time I buy a new pair of gloves. But ironically, I’m also thankful that it transpired this way. I am scarred by that act of hesitation, and as a result, frightened of hesitation (in fact, regret can be good medicine for the future).
I was in my teens when that happened, thank goodness, because it informed a lot of major decisions in my life thereafter. That memory was there when I quit my (“first” and “corporate” and “good”) job at 23, with no other job even remotely lined up. I moved to Europe, to be with a man I’d only known a few months, so that “rational thinking” wouldn’t have a shot (we later married and had my little man!). My decision to get pregnant, to leave my husband, and to move to Tulsa – all of those and more – were made on instant gut feelings, because I’ve come to believe that hesitation is the quickest path to unhappiness. I’ll say it again, because it’s worth repeating:
Hesitation is the quickest path to unhappiness.
And did you know it actually has consequences? Big ones?
SIX NASTY CONSEQUENCES TO HESITATING
1. You insist that you know what might happen.
Really, how many times has life (or your relationship, or job, or vacation, or dinner) panned out exactly as you imagined? Isn’t it about time we stop wasting time coming up with what “might” happen, and instead, embrace what will.
2. You put fear over intuition, and encourage your brain to value fear more in the future.
Every time you make a choice, your super efficient brain takes that as valuable information. “Ohhh, this is what we want,’ and makes it even easier to choose that route the next time! It’s the same system that allows you to learn a skill – like playing the piano – and eventually do it on auto-pilot. Scarily, it applies to your choices and beliefs in life too.
3. You limit God, the Universe or whatever greater system you believe in.
Let’s put our differences aside and just talk about the greater system you believe in. Do you believe it has a limit? So why do you insist that you can’t act on that whim, that life won’t grant you abundance, that you won’t “be okay” if you go for it?
4. You give up on trust and abundance.
You may say you gave up on it because it never came. But I think it’s the other way around. It hasn’t come because you won’t believe in it.
5. You focus on the negative!
Girrrrl (or boy, because I know some are reading this), don’t get me started. Fear-mongering of your own soul often masquerades as “Rational thinking!”
6. You lose your original mojo!
There is some magic in our sudden inclinations (even if it’s just to lend a hand to someone who looks like s/he could use it), and if you waver, hesitate — even if you eventually act on it — that magic will have dissipated some. Or as I like to think of it, slunk away feeling unwanted in the face of my persistent doubt.
Here’s the thing. I can’t guarantee what will happen to you if you act on your feelings (anymore than you actually can), but I can guarantee two things: that if you hesitate, you will think back on it with regret. I can also guarantee you that if you decide to go with your head, logic and rational fear-based doubts, that life will still not turn out the way you imagined.
It’s all about Trust, and Belief. The next time you feel a really strong pull, a gut instinct, or a yearning, why not try kicking Hesitation to the curb and giving life a shot.