Imagine how knowing one detail can change your entire perspective. Have you ever planned to make a decision, then after obtaining one additional piece of information changed your mind entirely? Decisions are made on information, influence and intuition. We constantly weigh the costs and benefits based on what we know, or think we know. The influence of our culture and the people around us determine how we view and make decisions. Finally, we follow our gut feeling or intuition. All of these things come together helping us make a decision on the future, which for many of us is the ultimate goal whether we know it or not.

For most of us, the future is that big scary thing that is affected by the hundreds of decisions we make in a day. It sounds like a gross actualization that just about every decision we make, even the most basic, affects our future. We criticize the decisions others make, only to make the same decisions when put in the same situation. We criticize our own past decisions, judging them as not having been good enough. Decisions are hard, and knowing that they affect our future only makes each one scarier.

Imagine if you knew your entire future, who you would marry, what job you would have, where you would live, what mistakes you would make. Most people wouldn't simply stand by and do nothing to try and affect those details. Nobody has the ability to construct their own perfect life, but they also don't have the ability to resist trying. There are no perfect lives or perfect people; everybody has cracks. Watch any time travel movie and observe as they try to change the future. It never works. If it doesn't work in the movies, then it definitely can't work in real life. These cracks in people and situations are the unknown pieces of information that affect our decisions. Like I've said before, making bad decisions helps us grow. More importantly though, we make our decisions based on who we are presently. Maybe years from now, we will all look back and judge others or ourselves for the choices we made.

So what do we do now when we are making decisions? I guess the only thing that we can do right now is stand back. Stand back and look at everything around us, considering the information we have and the things that are important to us. Then take a step forward and make a decision. Of course, almost every decision we make has the potential to hurt someone, but we also can't build our lives avoiding hurting anyone. There is always collateral damage, and that collateral damage is part of the consequences and future. Just like we can never truly know what the future holds, we will never know about all the people we hurt or all the damage we cause.

Humans aren't all-knowing, and nobody expects us to be.

— Samantha Warchol is a sophomore in psychology. She can be reached at swarchol@utk.edu.