(from 'I used to be a miserable fuck' by John Kim)
As men, we never want to be wrong. If we’re wrong, it means we have failed. We’ve lost. And since we tie our worth to our performance, we are wrong = we failed = we are less of a man. So we put a lot of weight on making the “right” decision. So much so that sometimes we don’t make a decision at all. But making decisions takes courage. And it’s that courage that makes a man. Not whether he is wrong or right. It’s the ability to execute, to choose, to put something in motion.
Have you ever gone out to eat with someone who can’t decide what he wants to order? He goes back and forth. Back and forth. He asks, “What are you having?” which is normal. Then asks the server what’s good or popular. Again, normal. But after ten minutes or so, when he eventually asks the server to just pick something for him, it’s no longer an indecisive thing. It’s a character thing. This is the same guy who doesn’t know where to take his girlfriend on a date. The guy who enjoys “all music”. The guy who doesn’t know who to vote for. Can’t tell you what he liked or didn’t like about the movie. He’s the “I dunno” guy and never has an opinion. He doubts and second-guesses himself. He can’t make decisions. His inability to pull the trigger blocks his journey from boyhood to manhood. Men make decisions. You have to, or you can’t build anything. Or lead anyone.
Ambivalence repels love and trust like flipped magnets. Without the courage to decide, no one will follow you. And in relationships, it will stunt chemistry, attraction, and growth. She may not agree with your decision, but she must trust that you have the ability to make one. Without this ability, there can be no relationship. She is seeking a man on a mission. Not a boy lost at sea.
I was the “I dunno” guy in many of my relationships. If you asked me what I wanted for dinner, I didn’t know. If you asked me what I wanted to do on the weekend, I didn’t know. I didn’t know because I didn’t have a strong sense of self and thought it would be easier to just let someone else make the decision. But not giving yourself a voice deteriorates you. You start to dissolve like Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future when he couldn’t get his parents together. He literally started to turn invisible in photographs. That’s what happens when you “don’t know” for too long. People don’t see you anymore. But more importantly, you don’t see you anymore. It wasn’t until I started to make decisions—it didn’t matter if they were wrong or right, if I picked a lane, declared my opinions, allowed myself to be heard—that I started to live instead of exist.
Your decisions will define your character.
The ability to make a decision is a skill. It allows you to build trust, pave a road, accomplish goals. The pattern of these decisions will determine what kind of journey you’re on. It will remind you of who you are and where you are going. It’s better to choose and be wrong than to not choose at all. If you don’t pull the trigger, you will lose your gun. So pick a lane, a side, a color. Choose a restaurant, a partner, a cause. Your decisions will define your character.
How to ditch “I dunno”, or how to find your voice.
It’s really simple. I started asking myself what I wanted. But more importantly, I made a promise to myself that I would express what I wanted, and do my best to give myself that. Building self-esteem is about holding on to the promises we make with ourselves. We become the “I dunno” guy because we don’t have self-esteem or self-worth. We don’t believe we matter. The way you stop this pattern and finally find your voice is to give yourself one. Promise yourself you will express your wants and do everything you can—of course, without hurting others—to give yourself that. Without guilt, shame, and everything else that will try to kick in because you’re not used to doing it. Like all self-betterment, it’s a practice. But it starts with a promise. And every time you break it, you are puncturing your self-esteem balloon.