Here’s how I eliminated stress from my life.

Brooke Schwartz
4 min readMar 3, 2021

You’re sitting in a classroom, silent except for the frantic scribbling of pencils and the insistent tick, tock of the clock on the wall. You try to swallow, despite your mouth feeling bone-dry, as you move onto the next question. It’s okay. Deep breaths. You can do this.

A person bubbles in answers on a standardized test.
Photo by Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu on Unsplash

You read option A and think, Oh, that’s definitely it. You’re flooded with relief, safe for a moment. But then you get to option C, and it all falls apart; option A, so solid and tempting when you began reading, is suddenly flimsy. You read option C again and it also seems weak.

You flag the question and come back for later, but you’re still stuck. A or C? You’d circled A; now you’re paralyzed in a moment of indecision. Which one, which one? The clock is ticking.

You erase your original answer and put in option C. You’re still not sure. Can it really be A? You swallow again; you finished your water, but your mouth is still dry. The clock is ticking insistently, cutting through the silence with each moment. Your breathing is quickening; sweat beads down your neck. Your teacher stands and calls, “Time’s up!” You look down and see that you filled in option C. Doubt fills you. It was probably A.

You get your test back the next day. The answer was A. You inwardly kick yourself. I knew it.

The key here is not the test questions, which are irrelevant. The key is that you were paralyzed by your indecision. It led to many moments of stress and anxiety, and resulted in disappointment and regret.

The answer? Live decisively.

The glory of living a decisive life is that you’re wrong just as often, but you’re decisively wrong.

Living decisively means living with lessons instead of regrets. It means going with your gut, and if you don’t know what your gut says, then going with your brain—and if you don’t know what your brain says, then you make a formula and you stick to it.

You don’t just act thoughtlessly, but you also don’t waste time doubting yourself when it’s useless to do so. Think through your decisions carefully, but if you’re getting too wrapped up, bite the bullet and pick one. In a high-pressure situation, go with your gut. Fearlessly make mistakes, take them in stride and learn…

Brooke Schwartz

Professional writer, editor, and tutor; social justice advocate; Orthodox Jew; dedicated Grammar Auror