A few weeks ago, just after I’d written my post on not getting into my first-choice school, a girlfriend called to share an interesting and completely contradictory experience to the one I’d described.
She’d gotten into her first-choice, Ivy League school, but had gone against the grain and her family’s wishes (she was a legacy!) and opted for a state school instead. The decision caused friction within her family, to the point that it remains a sore issue to this day. She went on to say that she still finds herself wondering what if…?
“In some ways, I envy that you didn’t get into your first choice school and that the decision was made for you. I feel like I was messing with fate. At least you can look back and say: I made lemonade out of lemons. Meanwhile, I don’t know what I was doing. Did I do the right thing?”
As she agonized, I could see that she was still wrestling with a very real and very pressing measure of regret — even now, over ten years after graduating. She went on to explain two or three other serious life situations where she’s been put in a position to decide between multiple options, noting that she’s felt something close to paralysis each time, likely owing to the uneasy experience of her college matriculation.
As we chatted, I realized that I’ve never experienced the decision paralysis she was describing. I can’t tell whether this is because I have — as she suggested — been fortunate enough to have many major life decisions made for me in a certain sense (I actually can’t remember a time where I’ve had to jockey between multiple possible and convincing options where a big life decision is concerned, with the exception of deciding not to pursue a cephalic version when I discovered that mini was breech — more on that below) or because I tend to develop really strong perspectives fairly quickly. For example, I knew Mr. Magpie was The One from nearly the dawn of our relationship — while I know many friends have had to struggle with deciding whether or not a relationship is worth pursuing (“is he the one?!” and “are we in this for the long haul?”). And I knew mini’s name was right for her and never thought twice about it, whereas many other friends have expressed ambivalence and even regret (I actually know a few women who have changed their babies’ names well after birth). Come to think of it, I rarely find myself doubting my own decision-making or regretting a choice I’ve made, with the exception of when I opted to schedule a c-section instead of attempting a cephalic version with mini to see whether we could get her into a head-down position for a vaginal birth. But even in that case, I spent so much time weighing the pros and cons and seeking the counsel of my doctor and trusted love ones, that in my moments of dubiousness, I would run back through my rationale and calm myself: “Yes, I made the best decision I possibly could have at that point.” And I’d relax into my decision. Or maybe I have cultivated sufficient confidence in the notion of “trusting my gut,” as things have always worked out one way or another, and with major faculties intact — so I’ve never given myself room to question the decisions I’ve made. I tend to hunt for “clues” and “signs” and “foreshadowings” in thinking about the path that has led me somewhere, and maybe this find-and-seek activity helps me better explain why I’ve done what I’ve done and why it makes sense within the context of “my story.”
What do you think? Have you experienced decision paralysis? If not, do you think it’s because you’ve never had occasion to weigh multiple possible options or because decision-making is easier for you for one reason or another?
Post-Script: An Elegant Bathroom.
Apropos of nothing at all: I am swooning over the elegant bathroom remodel by the husband and wife team behind The Happy Tudor.
Get the look…
+An elegant bench. (Ahh, to have the space in a bathroom for a bench or ottoman.)
+This pretty wastebasket. (Kind of like that it comes with a lid — no one needs to see bathroom trash.)
P.P.P.S. Another super-inspiring room.