“I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
One thing about me? I am indecisive. It is top ten most annoying things about me. I recently had a job interview and I was asked what my weakness was and without hesitation I immediately mentioned my indecisiveness (of course taking care to emphasise how I am working on it). Funny enough, I had just been thinking about my indecisiveness before the interview so I had my answer ready to go. Nice looking out God.
Yesterday I was fed up with myself and had to ask myself what exactly my problem was. I had gone to get some cookies that I really had no business eating (I’m a sugar addict, send help). Even though this was my third time in a week getting these cookies, and I had been deliberating over the choice of cookie flavours all day before leaving my house, I still found myself at the cookie shop second guessing myself and asking the shop attendant to decide between two flavours for me. Even as she was bagging up the cookies and ringing up the order I had half a mind to ask her to make some changes. I finally made my decision and walked out of the shop completely insecure about my choices. I just felt uncomfortable. After walking on for about five minutes with this sinking feeling in my belly, I said to myself “girl what’s your problem? It’s a fecking cookie for goodness sakes. You’ve been here three times already, you should know what cookies you like by now. Even if you don’t like it so what? it’s just a cookie! Damn. You weirdo!” That’s what what I needed to hear (lol) and I immediately felt better and the sinking feeling was gone.
My indecision is tightly woven into the very fabric of my being and it drives me insane. Everything has to be second guessed. There are times when my heart screams yes! and I don’t have to question anything but those times are few and far in between. I don’t know what it is I am so afraid of. I am afraid of making the wrong decision, that much is clear, but most of these decisions are not even a matter of life and death, they literally do not matter. Yet I waste precious finite time agonising over them. It is infuriating. I need to learn how to manage this. Most of the time when I am being indecisive I am not making any concrete thinking or weighing the options with any intelligence; I am simply just being indecisive and stressing myself out.
What are you so afraid of? What are the consequences of buying a cookie that you do not like? It’s flour and sugar, you will most likely eat it all. If I was a therapist here is the point I would try to make a link between my fear of making mistakes and some repressed trauma from childhood Are you afraid that your parents made a mistake in marrying each other and making you thus injecting in you this abject fear of making decisions out of fear that you make the wrong one and ruin your life and possible end humanity as we know it? For a while my indecision made sense to me; of course I have to spend half an hour deciding what to eat at this restaurant
only to end up ordering the wrong thing anyway because if I don’t like my food then I will have wasted my money and not be satisfied. Then I am hungry and without my money. But it just grew and grew and took over my life like a venom coursing through the bloodstream. In many ways I feel like a child who has been ushered into adulthood without any guidance and I need my mummy (or some other responsible adult) to make decisions for me. The fact that it is EYE who have to make these decisions is bewildering.
This also means I have an issue with execution. I want to do something, and I have the ideas but I just let them float about in my head without actually doing anything. For example, I volunteered to plan social events for my work team. I sat with these ideas for ages not daring to make any decisions on my own. I needed someone else, preferably a higher up in the team, to discuss the ideas with and to get their backing before going on to plan the event and notify the whole team. I could not bring myself to decide for the team; if possible I wanted to ask each person what they wanted and get a general understanding before even sending out an email. Again I am like a child that needs mummy to hold my hand. Then I got two emails from other people on the team with their executed social plans: “Hey guys we are planning a bowling outing. Let me know if you’re interested!” Simple pimple. I felt so bad, the way I do when I feel I have failed at a task and someone else has had to take over. I imagine someone rolling their eyes saying “this girl is not forthcoming with any ideas let me just go ahead and plan something.”
My indecision is never more evident than on my birthday. Oh my word. I want to do so many things but will my friends be able to make it will it be convenient for them will they be willing to spend this much money on my birthday will they….? The result of which is that I end up being incredibly stressed out by my approaching birthday and sometimes I find myself with no birthday plans, just alone and depressed. A few years ago my friend said “Just tell us what you want to do for your birthday and we will let you know if we can participate.” Those words have stuck in my mind. I did go ahead and share my plans and they turned up, spent the money and I was happy. The crazy thing is that when my friends have plans I always show up, so I don’t know why I run myself ragged trying to decide on what is best for everyone without even first letting people know what I want.
Recently I went house hunting and found one that was alright and ticked most of my boxes. I could have made a decision there and then but of course I had to “sleep on it” and by that I mean not make a decision and hope the universe somehow makes it for me. It was not until the estate agent called me to say the flat had been taken that I started to have real regrets. I still have not able to find any place as good, and I am completely fed up with my current place. I was not making constructive points about what I needed to know to make a decision about the flat. I was just hmmmmn I don’t know. It still pisses me off to think about it. In this case the reason for my indecision was “What if I settle and something better comes along?” A stupid thought, given that I had been searching for ages and hadn’t found anything.
In the job interview, I said that I am learning to deal with my indecision by first carefully considering all possible outcomes and the consequences of each. In effect, what is the worst that could happen? I also said that I need to communicate more with those around me, rather than wallowing in isolation. Most of these decisions do not need to be made by myself alone, there is nothing wrong in seeking advice and help from others. A problem shared is a problem half solved, as they say. As with most of my afflictions, I know the solutions; it is just difficult to fully extinguish one’s neuroses.
I read somewhere that indecision is a decision, just make a decision and stick with it!
“Having made the decision, do not revise it unless some new fact comes to your knowledge. Nothing is so exhausting as indecision, and nothing is so futile.”
― Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness
“The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision.”