The Paralysis of Choice

Lately my weekends have been spent at home, doing nothing. Not that I’m forever out and about, but it’s very unlike me to let a month go by without at least attempting to discover something new. These days though, things seem to be rote. Even my food adventures are rote. I’ll visit my favourite  bakery in Chinatown (I’ve found Hong Kong style bakeries to be closest in taste to Philippine-style breads), maybe drop by my neighbourhood jerk joint for oxtail if I feel like it, or  hit up my secret go-to in Ossington – which I refuse to name because I selfishly don’t want it to get too popular – for Portuguese rotisserie chicken. I’ve slowly felt myself falling into a rut, which is not something one should fall into, not when one lives in Toronto. There’s so many things to do and to see, falling into a rut is almost inexcusable.

But there’s only so much adventure I can bring myself to do. I spent a year or two feverishly trying out new things, the goal being to find something I liked and could stick with, a huge chunk of the new things being places to eat at. Like where to go for brunch. (Check.) Or Cajun. (Check.)All-you-can-eat Indian. (Check.) Ramen. (Check.) Peking duck. (Check, check.)

So I sifted through the morass of my internal wiring, trying to see what was up. Is it getting older? Laziness? Predictability? If I’m being entirely honest, I think some of it is that. And then it hit me. The real problem is having too many options. I feel inundated with them. It’s Toronto. Turn a corner, and something’s happening. A new restaurant. A new Instagram-worthy little nook. Something. There’s always something, and I find myself with so many options, I feel paralyzed by my inability to choose.

Even deciding to stay in and watch something can be paralyzing. What platform do I use? Netflix? Hulu? Amazon Prime? And once I decide which one I want to use, another round of choices begins. Do I watch a TV show? If so, what show? Do I watch a movie? If so, what genre? And once I decide on a genre, what movie? It’s exhausting, like my life is suddenly a long-ass exam comprised mostly of questions with multiple choice answers.

It’s been said humans are only capable of making a finite number of good decisions in a day. Once we pass that number, the quality of our judgment starts to decline, one main reason tech titans like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg always wear the same thing any given day; it lessens the amount of choices they have to make, freeing them to hopefully save that mental energy to make better choices.

I don’t really know where I”m going with this except to say that’s what I came up with today. The inundation of all that’s possible and all that’s new has me paralyzed.  I sometimes find myself with so many options, I’m wracked by indecision, struggling with the inevitability of regret, because I know no matter which choice I go with, I may end up regretting not choosing differently. And I don’t like regret. It tastes bad. Indecision tastes bad too, but it’s a little more palatable, so I end up on the couch refusing to make a choice. Which comes with its own taste, and its own brand of regret.

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