“Are You Sure?” or the question I’ve come to despise

“Are you sure that’s what you want to do?” is a question I’ve come to despise.

I’m at a crossroads in my life, a season full of decision making regarding what I want my life to look like, and I think I’ve come up with an answer. Along the way an awful lot of people have asked me if I’m sure about my decision. The honest answer is, no, I’m not sure, which I usually coat in a healthy dose of optimism and communication of solid intentions. Often – not always, but often – people counter with the kinds of probing questions meant to help me realize that I’m on the wrong path and should really change course and pursue something else. Subsequently, I leave the conversation discouraged. Whomever I was talking to has attempted to cultivate seeds of doubt. They have no alternate path they think I should pursue, but my subtle hesitation encourages them to dissuade me from this one.

Why, you might ask, am I not more confident, more certain, more sure? Well, because being “sure” of something hasn’t proved to be any sort of a guarantee.
What I haven’t been sure of has sometimes worked out:
1. I wasn’t so sure I wanted to attend the college that became my alma mater. It wasn’t my first choice, but it was the place I felt like God wanted me to go, so I went.
2. I wasn’t sure about my major, and the night before second semester of my junior year I nearly changed it.
3. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to grad school, in fact I was sure I was supposed to go to grad school long before I was sure what I was supposed to major in.
If I’m quite forthright, I’m still not “sure” of any of those decisions. Maybe there was a different college that would have been better for me? Maybe I should have switched my major? Maybe I shouldn’t have gone to grad school, or I should have majored in something else? But if there is one thing I’m sure of, second guessing those decisions at this stage in my life is an exercise in futility, and in the end I don’t regret any of them.

That which I have been sure of has sometimes been wrong:
1. Looking at my syllabuses that first week of class, I was sure I would flunk out of eighth grade. It case it isn’t obvious, I didn’t flunk eighth grade.
2. In grad school I passed up TESOL certification because I was sure I didn’t want to teach English as a second language. Fast forward eight years and I’d opted to extend a contract doing just that.
3. I was sure that short of developing a terminal illness I would never move in with my parents, but when push came to shove and a housing situation got nasty, their hospitality became the best option.

Being “sure” and being “unsure” has often gotten me nowhere.

Right now there is one thing I’m sure of: I can’t stand still. Pursuing no goal would be mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and financially unhealthy. I’m not sure the path I’m taking is the right one, but I’m sure I need to take some path, and I’m sure of all the paths branching from this crossroads that it is the one I want to try.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to ““Are You Sure?” or the question I’ve come to despise

  1. “I’m not sure the path I’m taking is the right one, but I’m sure I need to take some path…”

    Words of wisdom. It takes a lot of courage to step through uncertainty and outside advice and choose the path you want to try rather than getting stuck in uncertainty or blindly following others’ advice.

    Great post.

  2. Kaye

    Jill, thank you for sharing your thoughts about the dreaded question. I so often ask it of myself and become immobile with uncertainty. Praying for both of us to contemplate and move even when uncertain of the result. Good hearing from you!

  3. I’ve often felt adrift and unsure. The verse in Joshua about the Lord being with us “wherever” we go, though, reassures me. Sometimes we embrace the seemingly true notion that God has A perfect plan for us, as in only ONE. But I think the truth may be that as long as we are attentive to God’s voice if he does give us a clear directive, and as long as we are obedient to him in general and seek the good of his kingdom, that WHATEVER path we go down will become God’s perfect plan for us, because we’re giving him control of it. Now if I could only live that out . . . 🙂

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