Living With Indecision

I’d signed up for this ridiculous class on a whim. It was all due to my roommate, Mary.

“Let’s sign up for this!” She had turned to some page in the course catalog and was thrusting it in my face. “It’s called Living With Indecision. It says it will be a process of learning how to make good decisions or not. It should be an easy ‘A’ and counts toward a required Psych course.”

“You have got to be kidding. I have so many hard courses this year! And you do, too. This Physics Major is beating me up and you want me to take some frilly course on how to make decisions? “

“Hey, girl! We’re Seniors and this whole year will be one big decision making nightmare before we walk across that stage. Maybe this will help?”

She had a point. I was already stressing about whether to get a job, go to grad school, go home, go somewhere far away for a year. The whole big ‘Now What?’ kept me awake in the middle of the night.

So here we were, sitting in this classroom with twelve other students, all of us trying to figure out what the heck we were supposed to be getting for our tuition money. Professor Harding was older than God and talked like him. He rambled and lectured and then threw exercises at us that we had to work on in groups. So far we had tackled:

What if we wanted a dog but ended up with a cat?

Could we live with a smoker or should we leave?

Is it harder to fry eggs or boil them and which would be better?

I kid you not. This is the stuff we sit around discussing. Dr. Harding says these are meant to strengthen our critical,thinking skills and help us make better decisions. So far I have learned I could never get a cat (too independent. I would leave a smoker (asthma clinches that). Boiled eggs are tricky and you have to time them just right (and who cares since boiled eggs are disgusting).

“So class. Today I am giving you a totally different assignment. I will not be here next week for class so you will have two weeks to work on it, and you will do it individually. No groupthink this time. I don’t want you to discuss it among yourselves. There are fourteen slips of paper in this basket. Come take one and I will see you next week.”

We all dutifully arose and headed up to his desk, and Mary rolled her eyes at me. I had a pretty good idea she was not so enamored about her choice of this class and this assignment was just another dimwitted Harding idea. But as she said, so far it had been pretty easy and since he didn’t believe in tests we were simply being graded on showing up and being good participants in our groups. We both were nailing that A.

I plucked out my slip of paper and opened it. It said, “You have to end a relationship with someone you deeply care about without telling them it is for this class and you don’t mean it.”

Good God. Was he kidding? I looked at him and he had a small smirk on his face. Nope. This was for real. I saw what he was doing; he was actually creating a potentially life altering situation that would force us to take an action, make a decision, that could be possibly catastrophic.

I hung back and after the others had all left I approached him. “If we do this, can we then tell the other person it was for a class assignment after we do our report in two weeks?”

“Well now. That will be entirely up to you, Miss Litchfield. Let’s see where life takes you, eh?”

Mary tried to talk to me about the assignment that night but I had decided to go through with it as requested; no discussion. She shut down and left in a huff, but that was her issue, not mine. I had decided that I would do mine around my boyfriend, Jeff. We had been together since our Sophomore year, and were really close. If I just told him, out of the blue, that I was dumping him, he probably would think I was having some kind of life crisis and give me space; then in two weeks I could explain it all and we’d just go on as always.

It didn’t go that way.

Jeff and I always made it a point to eat dinner off campus on Friday nights, and so it was over the spaghetti and meatballs at Bistro Italiano that I told him I thought we needed to break it off. He stared at me like I was nuts, and laid down his fork.

“You’re serious? I mean, where did this come from?” I was shocked to see there were tears in his eyes. “I thought we had something really good together, Annie. Is it something I’ve done?”

“No, no. Just….well….I just need some space, you know? I can’t really explain it. Just something I have to do.”

Which was actually the truth, just not all of it.

What was totally unexpected was Jeff’s reaction. He got up, threw his napkin at me and screamed, “You bitch!” He was incredibly angry. “I thought you were different than all the others, Annie. But you’re not. I’m leaving and I never want to see you again. What a shitty thing to pull.”

And he stomped out.

This was a disaster. I didn’t know whether to go after him but it struck me that this was a side of Jeff I had never seen. Oh, we’d had a couple of spats but that was must normal relationship stuff. I would apologize and we’d go on. But this was waaay over the line. I just sat there and then decided I would see how it played out for the next two weeks.

Jeff was incandescent in his rage. He began to leave me hateful notes. He texted me at odd hours and they were all hate emojis interjected between swear words. He stalked me around campus, glaring at me and giving me the finger if I looked at him.

This went on for the two weeks of my assignment. I wrote up my report for Dr. Harding and left it on his desk and then went back to the dorm. I had not said much of what had been going on Jeff with Mary, but when I walked in she was at her desk crying.

“I am so sorry, Annie.”

“What? Why? Sorry for what?”

“I have to tell you, now that the assignment is over. This craziness with Jeff? It was my fault. My assignment was to get someone to upset a mutual friend. When you said you had broken up with Jeff, I had a gut feeling that this had to with that dumb assignment. I found Jeff and he was so upset and angry and I….well….I egged him on.”

All I could do was stare at here. Now here was a real life decision dilemma. I had found out my boyfriend had huge unresolved anger issues and that my roommate and best friend could use me simply for a good grade.

That assignment had cost me a lot and I didn’t much like myself, either. I had also found out I would stoop to hurting people I cared about just because I was given an assignment in a dumb class that I thought could boost my grade point average.

I dropped the class, Mary and I worked it out and apologized to each other, but I decided what I had seen in Jeff was a deal breaker and there was no chance of “living with indecision” in this case. I was done with him.

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