Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Marking Time

I seem to be stuck (yes, again). Somehow, despite being fiercely independent and despite telling any almighty beings to fuck off, I want someone else to run my life. If someone else could just pick a path for me and convince me that it would work moderately well, I would do it. Instead, I'm paralyzed, simultaneously refusing to choose anything because I might miss out on the "best" option and by default spending my time in a less-than-ideal option. It's like I can convince myself that this time doesn't count because I'm not really trying and it's not "real." Yeah, well, I'm getting older, my resume isn't getting any better, I'm not earning that much money, and despite what I tell myself, I'm not all that fulfilled.

I really am a little jealous of people who truly believe God has a plan for their life and that with enough prayer and waiting, he will either reveal it to them or he will sort of nudge the necessary opportunities across their paths. This is what I really want to happen to my life. Of course, to me, it seems pretty obvious that when people pray about a situation, they end up making their own decisions anyway, placing weight on whatever they think is most important (or whatever they think God thinks/would think is most important), or they attribute happenstance occurrences to God's plan. I feel like I'm too much in touch with my own (no less screwed up) mind that I would never be able to trick myself into this. Even if there were a God-like being instructing me, I would still feel like it were my own mind making a decision for any one of many not-too-great reasons and wouldn't trust it.

I really need to learn to make decisions. OK, interviewers, that's it: my greatest flaw is my indecision. It's crippling. Maybe my problem is that I know a little more than the average person about how people make decisions, and I know it's all pretty pointless and that we're not being nearly as rational as we think we are, so I give up. Do I back off too much so my intuition can pick what's best? Do I try to buckle down and create the world's most intense pros/cons matrix? No, of course not, I careen wildly from one approach to the other—like most people, admittedly, but I seem to be the only one aware of it. If I could only quit paying attention and make a decision—any decision—already, I'd be better off.

My other stumbling block is that I don't ever want to close off options. Rationally, I am perfectly aware that the problem with modern life is not too few areas in which one can exercise choice, but too many. (See: The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz, a book that would change my life if I could actually put its lessons into practice.) Yet I still panic at the thought of closing off any given avenue forever. I really need to hurry up and figure out that (a) very few avenues ever truly get closed off forever (child prodigy, gymnast—the only two I can really think of), (b) I would be better off closing off as many avenues as possible to narrow down my choices, (c) I'm letting doors close simply by allowing time to pass without action being taken. If I do nothing for the rest of my life, all my possible routes will be shut off; whereas if I just pick one, at least I have a decent shot.

It's not fair. Why is it possible to know something undisputedly but be completely unable to act on it?

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