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From candy to college, hard decisions are everywhere, for any age

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Detroit Lakes, 56501
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About 10 years ago -- when I wore black round-rimmed glasses and dressed like Harry Potter every Halloween -- I went to the theatres and saw Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the first in the series.

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Being the fan I was, I felt guilty having to leave halfway through to escape the bloody gore that was unfolding on the big screen, but I just couldn't take it anymore. It was sending me into one of my spells.

So, with my head growing light and my palms feeling sweaty and cold, I stumbled up the lighted walkway of the darkened theater, afraid that I wouldn't even make it to the bathroom.

But I managed. After the standard two minutes with my head between my knees, I felt sturdy enough to walk around, even if my face was still a little pale.

I decided to buy some candy at the front counter. I figured this would serve the dual purpose of putting some nutrition in my body after the exhausting ordeal I had just recovered from, and killing time until the battle scene -- the one I hadn't been able to handle -- was over.

With a hard-earned $5 bill in my hand, I surveyed my options. There were many fine choices lying in wait behind the glass counter Too many, actually. I couldn't afford to make a decision like this rashly, and each candy presented its pros and cons, its joys and its perils.

What would it be? Skittles are good, but I wasn't really in the mood. Mike & Ike's are just glorified Jelly Beans, when you really get down to it, and Pop Rocks are a little noisy for the movie theater.

No, I was after something special, something to take the edge off my hunger without ruining my appetite, exciting to the palate but not too sweet. I continued, pacing and staring down at my options like a drill sergeant inspecting the battalion.

"Can I help you?" an employee asked, and I wondered why she looked so annoyed. What had I done wrong?

"No, just browsing," I said, and she left me alone.

I had only recently narrowed my options to a packet of M&Ms (classic and tasty) and a Chic o' Stick (crunchy with an edge) when I heard a thundering noise. A crowd of people poured into the main hallway, conversing on how wonderful they thought the movie was -- especially the ending. I had deliberated too long.

A decade later, I found myself making another life choice, and my old haunts of indecision were eager to pounce. Only instead of candy, which is enjoyed and moved on from in 20 minutes (no matter what kind), God had somehow seen fit to put me in charge of the next four years of my life.

I knew that my decision will send ripples throughout my future, and furthermore, the choice is mine to make and mine alone. With this kind of responsibility, I could not afford to decide rashly; but rather, had to carefully and thoroughly weigh the pros and cons, the joys and perils of each school. I scoured the Internet and drove the state over to inform myself on each of the few colleges I had narrowed my search to, based on location, affordability, and my ability to get in.

I stood on each campus as students walked around me, trying to get a pulse on the general atmosphere of the campus. I could never spend four years at a place that didn't feel just right.

At last, after many stressful months of indecision, my journey led me to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. I knew this was the school for me -- I could feel it in my bones -- yet I deliberated for over a month longer, just to give my gut instinct a chance to change.

When I finally made up my mind for good and sent in the deposit, I was proud to have finally decided something for myself. I had put my foot down and now I would not think about it any more, would not bother myself with wondering how things might have gone differently had I decided otherwise. I vowed to turn over a new leaf, to make my decisions quickly from now on. Life is too short to stand around all day fretting and second-guessing and wondering "what if?'

About a week after confirming my enrollment, I received a letter in the mail. "Thank you for choosing the University of Minnesota!" it read. "We are very excited to have you on board. The next step in your enrollment process is to select the three dormitories where you would most like to live for the coming school year.

I stared down at this letter, my old demon of indecision laughing from someplace in my head, and a small part of me died inside.

Nathan Kitzmann is a senior at Detroit Lakes High School.

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