Samantha Szuhaj: Indecision kills

Wednesday, October 30, 2019 - 12:31pm

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In NBC’s popular sitcom,The Good Place”, main character Chidi Anagonye finds himself in the show’s form of an afterlife as a result of his crippling sense of indecision. Chidi, a moral philosopher, always grapples with what the most “moral” decision would be. He finds himself in a personal stalemate, which often has negative repercussions — in his case, death — due to his inability to make a split-second decision.

In the show, Chidi often wastes time deciding which outcome may be the best for himself and those around him and often ends up frustrating everyone. Though my indecision has not reaped such serious consequences, I find myself in a perpetual middle ground between one choice or another. From having a hard time deciding which restaurant to go to, to deciphering where I see myself after college, I have this crippling inability to make decisions.

This sense of indecision, for me, is often coupled with the looming nature of uncertainty. I personally struggle with the grayness or lack of clarity that some decisions pose. If I go this route, will others be upset? If I choose this way, will others be happy at the expense of my discontent? I know I am not alone in this feeling. As students on this campus, we find ourselves making decisions that have the ability to impact our lives further down the road: what we want to study, what jobs we apply for, what clubs we join, how we choose to spend our free time and with whom. These are all choices that we make as students on this campus that have the ability to further impact our livelihoods, friendships, relationships, experiences and interests.

The sense of gravity that comes with the decision-making process often weighs on me. Some choices have been incredibly clear, such as deciding what to major in (political science). Others have been faced with uncertainty — the constant back and forth, such as weighing the decision to venture across the country to go to school with no familiar faces or stay closer to home. There are times when I want to just randomly select one choice just to have a sense of finality on the issue at hand.

Obviously, these problems are not just left to the moral philosophers in sitcoms, but to all of us, whether we are hyper-conscious like Chidi or not.

Being an indecisive person can pose difficulties. Most of the time, we just need someone to suggest one of the options and say how they feel about it for you. Or maybe we need to use a pros and cons chart, if that can be an oversimplified, temporary solution. At the end of the day, though, a decision usually must be made. It cannot sit on the backburner forever, wilting away due to purposeful neglect.

As I have found for myself, this indecision can lead to what I call a “double loss” situation, in which both you and those around you are frustrated or discontented with your decision — or lack thereof. It is evident with Chidi in “The Good Place”, as he missed out on so much due to the copious amounts of time he spent trying to figure out what to do about something or in regard to someone. His friends, his family and even his students come to see his obsession with making the best choice all the time as a hindrance instead of a strength. I do not want to be a Chidi.

Sometimes I need to have faith that, despite not knowing how one choice may catalyze and influence future outcomes, it will work out. At the end of the day, we all face difficult choices at this pivotal point in our lives. I strive to be unlike Chidi, to not look back on the past with a sense of regret due to the amount of time spent toiling over decisions, instead of being able to find satisfaction with whatever I pick. I want to look back knowing that despite how tough one thing may have seemed in the moment, it all worked out in the end.

I was recently asked for a piece of advice that I wish I could give my past self. Without hesitation, I said, “Everything will work itself out in the end,” which surprised me. I hold this to be true, and hope that others who struggle with the big and little decisions on our campus and within our community can find this to be true as well. 

Samantha Szuhaj can be reached at szuhajs@umich.edu.