Thursday, March 6, 2014

Too Many Choices

I've wasted weeks of my life at Blockbuster. In our post-school, pre-parenthood period, I made the trek to Blockbuster most weekends. I'd get in my car, drive to Blockbuster, and circle around to find parking. Once inside, I'd stare at the wall of new releases, scanning titles with my eyes and shuffling from rack to rack. It was time-consuming and mind-numbing.

I miss it.

We now have HBO, Showtime, Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, iTunes, and an absurd number of cable channels. We have two Blue-ray players, two computers, an Apple TV, two iPhones, an iPad,  and a Kindle Fire. Instead of driving, all I need to do is click.

But I almost never watch movies anymore. Watching is simpler, but choosing is so much harder. There are too many options.

I suffer from decision paralysis. I function best when life is a series of multiple choice questions; do you pick A, B, or C? If the solution set is too large, I become overwhelmed and choose nothing.

This is why I cannot make travel plans. If someone else chooses the destination, I will gladly learn about hotels and attractions and make lists and itineraries. But I can never start the process because I can't decide where to go. If the possibilities include everywhere, how do I narrow it down? I don't. My husband makes plans or we stay home.

I fear I did the same thing with my career choice. I never once considered all the things I could do. I grew up in a semi-rural blue collar Midwestern town. The "successful people" were doctors and lawyers. I was a good student who got nervous in hospitals. Guess what I became when I grew up?

I wasn't exposed to many options as a kid, but I have no one to blame but myself. Once I went to college, I should have found my passion or talent and explored career possibilities. It never crossed my mind. I enjoyed my English classes, so I became an English major. I never once considered what I might do with it (not that my dad didn't raise the issue a time or two). I never considering doing anything.

I was good at school, so I chose more school. I knew I didn't want to teach or research, so graduate school was out. Law school was in. That had a natural career path, so I didn't need to make many decisions after that. My only significant decision was to quit.

Now I'm deciding what my second act will look like. Do I have a passion or a talent? What do I want to do with it, if so? What do I want to be when I grow up?

The solution set is much smaller than it was twenty-five years ago, so I hope the decision-making will be easier this time around. In the meantime, I'm going to push my limits and suggests we watch a movie this weekend--my choice.

1 comment:

  1. I went through the same process. I think it's hard to find your passion or talent at that age. Now that we are older, we know what we love and what we'd be happy doing. I'm with you. Also, I can't pick a movie, either.