How I Make Decisions: Emotions vs. Logic

A few months ago, I realized that I tend to make decisions instinctively and almost immediately. I know that this likely sounds utterly ridiculous to most people who know me because I’m typically incredibly indecisive. However, I’ve realized that, in terms of big decisions, I tend to go with gut instincts. From there, it seems as though I’m indecisive because I constantly second-guess myself, and I do endless research in hopes of somehow “proving” that I’m making the right decision, and I want to figure out all of the logistics of how to go through with my decision and how to deal with the consequences of it.

But in terms of the actual decisions (attending Bryn Mawr, moving to Chicago, picking ‘Ryan’ as a name, etc.), fairly early on, I have a feeling that I should do something, and then I go with it. However, because I rely so heavily on logic, reason, and rationality, the idea of going with an instinct bothers me, so I waver on whether I should actually follow through on the feeling.

Actually, that’s an understatement: I don’t tend to trust my decisions when they’re based on emotions or intuition. On the Meyers-Briggs’ scale, I’m confusing because on the one hand, I’m easily influenced by my feelings, and emotions are important to me. On the other hand, I place value on decisions based on logic and reason. It’s a bit of a conflict. So I’ll make an instinctive decision and then worry it to death because I don’t think my reasons for the decision are valid.

Sometimes, I just need to have a decision — it’s so much easier to focus on how I’m going to make something work than to try to decide between two options which will be best. Case in point: Bryn Mawr vs. Mount Holyoke. Far easier to focus on the awesomeness of Bryn Mawr than to debate which school was better and which school would make me happier.

More recently — a few months ago — I decided to move back to Minnesota. Most of all, I realized that, in terms of finances and employment, living in Chicago wasn’t working out. Plus, my parents and I have always been very close, and it was really difficult not knowing when I’d next see them. I just got overwhelmed by a number of factors. And once I decided to move back, I needed it to be final. I knew that if I kept mentally switching back and forth — “Maybe I can stay; maybe I won’t be able to stay; maybe I can find a job in Chicago; maybe I’m going to have to go back to Minnesota; maybe I’ll be able to find some way to stay” — I would just tear myself up inside.  After several months of having the knowledge that I might need to leave Chicago if I couldn’t find a job in the back of my head, I just couldn’t handle that combination of false hope and extreme uncertainty any longer. So, I told everyone that I was moving back to Minnesota, and I tried to not second-guess my decision. Mentally, moving back to Minnesota was just a fact, not something I could change.

Logically, I know that moving back to Minnesota is the right decision. Emotionally, I’m still working to convince myself of that. I keep telling myself that it’s only for a year so that I can get my life a little bit more together. I’m trying to focus on the positive things about being back in Minnesota. And perhaps most helpful, I’m working on staying in touch with my friends in Chicago. Because, after all, it was never really about the city for me: it was always about the people.

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