Growing up, my five years younger sister and I used to play a game familiar to most Germans: the decider and the follower. For a while, one person got to call the shots and chart the trek of our imaginary adventure. Then, it was the other’s turn, and so on.
Given our age difference, I tended to stretch my time in the decider role, and so every now and then, you might have heard an outcry of, “Ich will auch mal der Bestimmer sein!!” — “I want to be the decider too!!”
“Bestimmen” in German is a strong word. It is equivalent to “ruling” or “decreeing,” perhaps — and while that’s fun when the kingdom you’re ruling over is your parents’ back yard filled with invisible fairies and dragons, as an adult, it quickly gets exhausting. Suddenly, you’re the decider all the time, and you’d love nothing more than to simply be a follower.
After publishing a big list of 365 quotes recently, I’ve been dropping the idea of turning it into a book around friends. “Should I just add my own take to each quote? Offer some background on its author and context on when and why it was said? Or something else?”
Thankfully, everyone has ideas. One friend suggested I should ask friends and readers who feel they have a personal connection to this quote for their stories. Another said to go with black-and-white pictures of the authors, along with a short biography of each one. Yet another discovered that ladies in their 50s seem to love flower-themed calendars — perhaps that’s a route I could go down?
In the moment, each idea seems a great. A potential answer to my question. A week or two later, however, I often have to admit: It was the ease of being a follower that drew me into it more so than my belief that it would be the right path to take. For a few hours, I got to feel as if my problem was solved, as if all I had to do was follow along. Naturally, that feeling never lasts.
Eventually, I wake up and realize: I am the decider. This, like so many others, is a choice only I can make.
It’s okay to be exhausted sometimes from making decisions all day long. Your kingdom has grown considerably from when you were ten, and the stakes have gone up a thousandfold as well.
In the end, however, all is as it should be. You were always meant to be the decider, and as long as you stay patient, show yourself compassion, and focus on the road ahead, you’ll govern your dominion well. You have the part that had your name on it from the beginning. Now, it’s time to be a ruler we’ll remember.