Health and wellness touch each of us differently. This is one person’s story.

I turned 37 years old this past April and as I felt my birthday approaching, I also felt that I was sinking into a new level of truth about where I’m at in my life. I’m surrounded by so many close friends who are getting engaged, getting married, and having children.

As I look at the joy in their faces while growing into this new level of life, I know immediately that they’re experiencing something that I never will and that pushes me to be sure I am clear about my decision.

About six years ago I started to really evaluate whether or not I was meant to have children. I had been married in my early 20s and knew that marriage was something I loved and desired to have in my life again, but I’d never had that desire where children were concerned.

While I believe I knew the answer all along, I began searching for a reflection of the truth I felt within and rarely found it. I found myself hearing the same sentiment almost every time I brought the topic up to friends: “Oh, you’re just saying that, wait until you meet the person you’re meant to have kids with.” “Nitika, you are one of the most nurturing people I know, you’re meant to be a mother!”

I’d look into my friends’ eyes and think: They seem so sure, they must know something that I don’t know. But every time I tried to imagine myself carrying a baby in my body, giving birth to a child, and then raising that child, something felt wrong.

Can you relate? Whether you’re someone who’s never been the traditional type and are surrounded by people who are or you have a body that wouldn’t survive the intensity of childbirth, I want you to know that you aren’t alone.

While we don’t have to justify our decisions to anyone, it was helpful for me to get honest about why I was making this decision. For a long time, it felt like a choice I was making based on fear, but after a lot of introspection and asking myself some incredibly challenging questions, I realized that the fear I’d make the wrong choice was the only fear I really had.

If you’ve been questioning this part of your life with no idea where to turn, I have a few questions you might want to start with.

3 questions to help your decision

1. Can I physically have children?

This is where I recommend starting your discovery process. If you struggle with a chronic illness like me or you have to be on medications to function on a daily basis — also like me — then having an honest conversation with your doctor about what your body is capable of can be incredibly eye-opening to helping you figure out what you truly want.

2. What happens when you try to picture it?

For years I’d take time out of my week and ask myself this question. Can I picture my life with children in it? When I try to, how does it feel?

Almost every time I sat down to explore this, I’d come up with two answers: Either I couldn’t picture my life with children at all, so there was an empty space there but it wasn’t bad, or I’d imagine that I did have children and I felt completely drained of all of my energy just at the thought of it.

I’d see my health deteriorating and my stress level increasing. It didn’t add joy to my life, it added stress and that took a massive toll on my health.

3. What do you feel when you imagine not having children?

If you aren’t meant to have children, this part may even feel fun. Honestly, I felt immediate joy. I felt like I could be the best aunt to all of my friends’ kids and still put my health first and maybe even have the love of my wildest dreams by my side through it all.

I felt like I could really thrive and while my health took up a lot of my attention in my youth and even as a young adult, I could create the next chapters of my life based on what I truly wanted versus it being based on what my health was allowing.

There are so many questions you can ask yourself while exploring what’s truly meant for you. These three are a great place to start.

As often as you can, let yourself get quiet and honest about what you really want. Then when you decide to share it with others, you’ll have so much more clarity and you’ll feel empowered instead of confused. This is a big decision, so give it the time and weight it deserves.

Nitika Chopra is a beauty and lifestyle expert committed to spreading the power of self-care and the message of self-love. Living with psoriasis, she’s also the host of the “Naturally Beautiful” talk show. Connect with her on her website, Twitter, or Instagram.