OyChicago blog

Help me, I’m indecisive… I think?

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12/26/2013

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At any given time, I have about five half-written pieces saved on my laptop. I always flatter the idea of writing about one topic or another for a few paragraphs, only to realize that I am not ready to delve into that subject matter yet, which puts me back at square one. This goes on for weeks until I finally get an idea that clicks and it is usually smooth(ish) sailing from there.

I do this because of two personality traits of mine that I am not particularly fond of: I am a procrastinator and I am extremely indecisive. I know that I procrastinate because I am indecisive, and although I am an awful procrastinator, I express it in a much less obvious way than most. I never pulled an all-nighter in college and, unlike many chronic procrastinators, I can focus perfectly well on a project. I  can sit and work on the same project for 12 hours straight, as long as I have unlimited water, caffeine, and snacks to get me through. I hope (at least from afar) I appear to have everything (okay some things) together.

Still, I always put off my writing until the last minute. I always thought this was because, like most journalists, I work better under pressure. This still holds true: I am a stress case (there is really no eloquent way to describe it.) I know that it's this aspect of my personality that pushes me to do well and get things done efficiently. However, my indecisiveness comes into play more often, which is why it takes me weeks at a time to decide what topic I should write about. It is also why I question things much more often than any person should.

When I was applying to college, I could not decide for the life of me which school I wanted to go to more: University of Wisconsin or George Washington University. The early decision one deadline passed and my GW application remained saved on my computer rather than somewhere in the cloud (actually, I don't even know if the cloud existed then, but when I use the term "cyberspace", I feel at least 70 years old). I ended up sending in my application to GW on the night before it was due for early decision two, when it had been completed for months, except for the edits that I added at least once a day, because why not? My indecisiveness was in full force.

I moved into my apartment last December, yet last week was the first time that I actually put pictures in some (not even all) of my frames (note: these frames have been hanging on my walls for at least eight months.) I am still searching for which pictures I want to print, what prints I want to order, where I should hang things I already own, which mirror I want to hang where, and so on and so forth. I can't even decide if I like my bedding and last weekend, I rearranged my entire closet for probably the fifth time since last December.

I'm pretty sure I drive my family nuts when it comes to picking out meals.  They always point out that it isn't the end of the world if we decide on Portillos vs. Corner Bakery or going out to eat at an Italian restaurant or burger joint. However, I sit and contemplate where we should go for hours. The same thing happens when looking at a menu. It actually is helpful that I started keeping Kosher six years ago and don't eat meat out, or else my options would be endless. I still get overwhelmed when there are more than, say, five vegetarian options. I act as if the worst thing is ordering the wrong thing off the menu and having food regret. It's clear that these choices are extremely trivial, yet without a doubt, I always let my indecisiveness get the best of me.

Don't get me wrong, if I have a strong opinion on something, I can make an informed decision. I know what I love and I know what I hate. However, it is everything that falls in the gray area between those two emotions leaves very little clarity for me.

Many experts say lack of confidence leads to indecisiveness, but that usually is not the case for me. I will admit that I have too many drafts on Twitter because I have doubts about the relevance of my thoughts, but beyond that, most of my decisions don't stem from a confidence deficiency. Stress is a huge factor in indecisiveness as well; when someone is overwhelmed, it is hard for that person to clear his or her mind to make a well informed decision. That's me...bingo! Experts also suggest that people are afraid to make decisions, even trivial ones, because they think a better option will come along. There are certain situations where it is easy to let the fear of striking out (or swinging at the wrong pitch), keep me from playing the game.

I have also read that people worry about making choices that other people disapprove of, have learned helplessness from their families. I truly don't think that applies to me, especially because I come from a very relaxed family where I have been encouraged to make decisions for myself.  It has just taken a long, long time for me to do so.

So as I sit and try to figure out why I am so indecisive, I realize that I really just don't know. 

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