Overthinking

There is nothing worse than the slow agony of overthinking every decision you ever make.

In the past few weeks, everything fell apart. My roommates and I got a 60-day notice to vacate our apartment. The owner wants to gut and strip and repaint and refinish the apartment and then rent it out at a higher price.

60 days to find a new place to live. It made my chest tight. For two weeks after we got the notice, I came straight home after work and watched videos or read. I couldn’t work on my book. I could only handle pure escapism.

As the days passed and it became clear that my roommates and I would be parting ways, questions rose before me like enemy soldiers on a battlefield. If I’m forced to move, should I change my job too? Should I move home, apply to grad schools? Should I move to Nashville, start over?

Each new question, each new avenue of possibility, approached me with raised swords and bared teeth. My opponents surrounded me; the noise of the battle confunded me. I whirled and slashed, hacking artlessly at each enemy and only winding myself. I lost my footing and fell with a squelch into the mud.

From there, I waited. The wet mud seeped into my clothes, my arms hung limp where they’d fallen. I had exhausted myself by spreading myself thin, giving every question, every enemy an equal measure of my strength.

There in the mud, two things became clear.

First, I didn’t want change. This was an event forced upon me, an event that brought along with it a dozen other factors to consider, choices to make, destinies to decide.

But I had to change. There was no option.

Second, the fight was killing me. Trying to outsmart every opponent, thinking ahead to match their every move, endlessly analyzing and weighing and assessing and debating and hemming and hawing and thinking and thinking—was useless and draining. I needed to make a final decision and walk off the battlefield.

I often feel as though I can’t trust myself. I’ve rarely had what I believe are called “gut feelings.” I generally approach all new things with a sense of existential dread, a vague, underlying pessimism that restricts me to notice only the negatives and walk away with an irrational dislike of whatever it is I’m supposed to adapt to.

And so I have a hard time making decisions. Do I feel weirdly bad about this decision because it’s the wrong decision? Or because I simply hate all change?

On and on I go.

But my experience is not uncommon, and as is usually the case, someone far wiser than me has already thought a great deal about this problem and distilled it down into its essence:

“We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.” –Seneca

As we go and make decisions this week, let us not be paralyzed by our own imaginations. Let us face our realities and act with faith, gratitude, and confidence.

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