We were talking, in our class full of women, about making the big decisions. But it turned out the big decisions weren’t the toughest ones.
Maybe because they’re few and far between — who to marry, where to live, what to study, where to work — so they don’t come up every day like the little ones.
So you make those big decisions and you think your hard work is over but in truth, you just have a new set of small ones that are every bit as fraught.
You marry the one you love but then you have to decide how to react when, as I heard a newly-wed recently say, he brushes his teeth too loud.
You find the perfect subject for study but then the program doesn’t accept your application or the jobs aren’t there when you graduate.
You take your job but then have to decide how to deal with a difficult boss or co-worker or assignment or all of the above.
So how you react to the little things that surround the big things makes a huge difference.
Because those little decisions really kind of seem to be what add up to who we really are.
The big ones might set the course, but the little ones make getting there or not a rewarding and enlightening journey or not.
Does a surprise problem in what was supposed to be a perfect solution make you angry or empathetic, make you think of the bright side or abandon hope, make you work to improve or cut and run?
The little decisions can be how we react to a slight. What we do after making a mistake. What we say when we’re out of earshot.
It’s easier to see in others.
Like the little six-year-old I spent time with this week.
As most grandmothers will say when they talk about their grandchildren, I find her pretty much perfect in every way.
But this one time she reminded me a little too much of me.
The big decision was about which flavor of ice cream to get and as soon as she made it she regretted it.
I wish I had gotten vanilla instead of raspberry, she said before the first scoop had reached her lips.
If you had gotten vanilla I would probably want to trade, she said after the second bite, making me glad for my chocolate.
The big decision was made. The little decision was whether or not to enjoy the accompanying results of the big decision.
And it was harder than it seemed.
Little decisions are always harder. How we face the fallout from that big decision. Do we embrace it? Do we second-guess it? Do we build on it?
And even those of us who are way older and who know way better are still working on making those decisions right.