Text by Kitchie Ohh, Copyright 2023
I have this incredible knack, when planning – an event, personal or professional project, travel, what have you – to look for every possible scenario that might happen so I am never unprepared. Honestly, in all my years, I have sometimes even considered impossible ones just to be safe should they somehow occur. I’ve been told it’s a trauma response, a way to self-regulate should the situation trigger my anxiety. But I’ve also been told it’s a superpower, making me one of – possibly the only – level-headed person, able to react in a productive way when the shit hits the proverbial fan. Its a quality that has saved the day more than a few times, but I wouldn’t consider it my highest-ranking character trait.
This same need to see all outcomes before acting is also how I approach decision making for myself. Of course, I’m not referring to every choice I make; I don’t run through every menu option before making my lunch. However, given my inability to grocery shop without first planning out meals for the entire week, I can’t say with certainty that I wouldn’t have a daily lunchtime decision spiral. Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. Decisions. Prior to making moderate- large-impact choices, I need to carefully weigh all the options. Years ago, I not only considered every choice’s impact on myself, but everyone else in my life, and I mean EVERY one. I was a stressed mess all the time, worrying how I might upset, hurt or inconvenience others. Thankfully, I’ve learned to limit that part now; considering myself and only those who might be immediately, and likely negatively, impacted by my decision.
The primary questions I ask myself before moving forward with any of the weighed options are:
“Can you live with the outcome of this decision?” and “Can you live with yourself after making this choice?” For example, I had a job offer late last year. It came with an enormous pay increase, a life-changing one. However, during the interview process, so many red flags were raised. It left me feeling…conflicted. Could I take the offer and use the cash? Absolutely. Could I live with compromising myself and my sanity in the process of earning it? Not a chance; money isn’t everything. I declined and went on to accept an offer that came with a slightly lower salary but significantly less – as in none at all! – moral compromise. That’s just one example. I’m are I could bore you to tears with loads more. I won’t. You’re welcome.
It’s quite common for people to look back at decisions they’ve made and wonder, “what if I did it differently?” It’s also not unusual to get stuck in that pattern of second guessing. I’m not immune to it. Despite laying out every possible option and choosing the best outcome that I could live with and retain my integrity and self-respect, I still catch myself wondering, “WTF have I done?” and entering into a period of questioning all of my life choices and whether they were the right ones. I have, however, developed a habit to get me out of that headspace.
Much like my pre-decision process, my post-decision self-doubt spiral prevention process, whether immediate or years later, starts with asking myself a question. I reframe all my “what ifs” with “What if I didn’t?” It’s a slight variation, sure. But it puts a positive spin on it. I look at the choice I did make, and where it lead me. I focus on the good things my choice allowed, not the bad things I could have avoided. Because I don’t think that avoiding bad things is at all possible all of the time. Sometimes they’re inevitable and they add value in the form of lessons.
Here are some chosen at random, in no particular order, examples.
I was extremely unsure of what I wanted to be when I “grew up.” After graduation, I opted out of college, favoring moving out of my parents’ home and entering the workforce at nineteen. It was fully my decision, weighed carefully. I was proud of myself but the what-ifs creeped in often back then. So what if I hadn’t done it? I would have missed out on so many experiences. Surely, I would have avoided some huge mistakes, but without having made them I wouldn’t be the person that’s writing this now. Who knows where I would have gone, what I would have done, who I would become. Yes, I am still proud of the decision.
Speaking of those early mistakes, during those first “on my own” years, I was head over heels in love with a very wrong for me guy. I often questioned, then, if that final straw that ended things was the right choice. I LOVED him What If I stayed? What if I accepted that half-assed marriage proposal? Oh, but had I stayed, had we gotten married, the the things I would have missed out on are too many to even comprehend. His drug use and mental health issues were never mine to fix. But I know that by not making that painful at the time choice to walk away, I would have sacrificed all of me, and my happiness, in the attempt to save him. Solid choice, no regret.
A few years back, I was invited to attend an event, a weekend away. It wasn’t my thing, but being supportive and wanting to spend time with the person who invited me, I agreed. Aside from the complete 180 degree turn in their behavior toward me for the entire weekend, I had a great time. The following year, the event came around again. I had no intention of going, it was near guaranteed I’d have to face that person again after purposely avoiding them since returning home from the last one. Remembering how good a time I had despite them, and at the coaxing of friends, I chose to go. It was an expense I didn’t budget for and a guaranteed weekend of awkward run-ins. At many points on the way to, during, and immediately after this event, I asked myself what if I didn’t attend this one? I could have paid down my credit card bill, stayed in pjs all weekend and just relaxed. But I didn’t. I would have missed on deepening relationships with new friends, on the adventures we planned – and ultimately went on! All of the happiness, the living! that I did because of my attendance at that event wouldn’t have occurred if I took the option that kept me at home comfortably avoiding ONE person. A resounding “hell yes, I’m glad I went!” And gratitude beyond belief for everything I experienced as a result.
Again, I’m sure I could come up with many more anecdotes from my life to illustrate the point here. But I’ll leave it at three, and one final glimpse into the inner workings of my brain.
Before actively engaging myself in this new method of not looking back and what-iffing myself to oblivion, I mentally listed out the choices I had and their potential outcomes. Constantly question and be stuck, never trusting myself and my choices. Always wonder what if and end up repeating old patterns, with the same people, trying to change the outcomes but never actually learning or growing. Be decisive and accept consequences – good or bad – and learn from both. Grow with each confident step toward the future, looking back only to reflect and remember how far I’ve come and how much further there is to go. Forward.
When that short list was complete, I realized, I couldn’t live with the outcome or myself if I had opted to continue looking backward, second-guessing.
I would hate to wonder, some day in the future, what my life might have been if I hand’t prevented myself from getting stuck in reverse. And so, I won’t.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kitchie Ohh is a full-time professional fundraiser who has worked with a number of health and human services nonprofits in the Philadelphia area over the last 20 years. She found her passion for modeling after a pinup-style photoshoot in 2013. Since then, she has worked with many talented photographers, stylists, hair and makeup artists in a variety of styles. She has been featured in- and on the covers of – multiple print and digital publications. Over the years, she has branched out from pinup studio modeling to serve as a figure model for live sketching, walked a runway, and was part of two campaigns for Philadelphia designer K. Vaughn.
In addition to her philanthropy-focused career, she has volunteered with art, historical, and community organizations, and even the events team of a local brewery for a while, pre-pandemic.
You’re just as likely to find her whipping up something deliciously plant-based in her kitchen or knitting a sweater as you are to find her on a photography set. Her motto is “be both.” The model and the homemaker, sultry and sweet, serious and silly. All the things, all at once.
To access additional articles by Kitchie Ohh, please click here: https://tonyward.com/kitchie-ohh-that-sounds-like-a-you-problem/