I don’t know about you, but I’m terribly indecisive. Recently I read an article about unlikely things that make you feel unhappy. On the list were things like excessive social media use, not feeling in control and eating too many burgers. Unsurprising to me and high on the list was also ‘having too much choice’. While it sounds like the ultimate ‘first world problem’, I have to agree that being given too many choices is something that often brings me down.
I’m not talking about what ice-cream flavour to gorge on, or what pair of shoes to buy. These inconsequential things aren’t likely to impact the way I live my life or how I view myself. Instead, I’m talking about the choices that our generation have that our parents didn’t. Should I go to university or head out into full-time employment? Should I rent a house or save up and buy? Should I travel? Should I settle down? Should I focus on my career? Should I have a baby before I’m 35? Decisions that, when I think about them deeply, make me want to break into a sweat and delve into the Cadbury Dairy Milk like there’s no tomorrow.
Recently, I found myself having a long chat with one of my friends about the freedom of choice. She is single, successful in her career and thinking about whether to work abroad. I’ve currently got a full time job within driving distance of my home, a long-term relationship and a part-time side hustle in copywriting. In many ways, we are similar, but our current situations are quite different. Although I’m completely content in the way I’m living my life, there’s a small part of me wondering whether I should be doing this at all – but only because there is so much more I could be doing.
While it’s easy to blame the accessibility of other people’s lives through social media, I happen to think that most of our anxiety comes through endless choice. Rewind a few decades and we’d be hooking up with someone from our hometown we’d met in the local pub and looking forward to our retirement and Golden wedding anniversary. Working on the other side of the world was something reserved for the overly adventurous and even buying your own home wasn’t as widespread as it is today.
In 2016, there is a whole spectrum of activities and ambitions to enjoy. Whether you fancy travelling the world, creating a fulfilling freelance career or living in a tipi with your offspring, nothing is impossible. Everything is changeable and there are numerous paths we can follow. While that is a frightening prospect, it’s also pretty liberating. It has become very easy to think that our generation has become short-changed instead of realising just how much potential we’ve got at our fingertips. Here’s to choice – and the freedom to embrace it!