Plan B: Hesitation and indecision often render me paralyzed

Bonnie Wong | Daily Trojan

Indecision is my specialty, and second-guessing is one of my considerable crutches. Menus give me anxiety, too many options make me woozy and yes or no questions that require immediate answers spike my heart rate. I’ve been known to fill my notebooks with obsessively mapped out pro-con T-charts for every minor choice tossed my way (most recent entry: “Should I go out or stay at home on Friday?”). And yet, after everything is neatly laid out, there’s no telling if I have even reached a definitive conclusion.

My word processor currently contains nine pages of varied, half finished prose pieces I’ve affectionately titled “Columnist Anthology.” Although I had numerous topics outlined and prewritten in neat typeface, I still struggled to choose a topic for this week. Last night I waffled between two pieces before reaching 99 percent certainty that I had finally settled on my choice. It was 3 a.m. and late into my fourth revision that I decided to completely scrap the entire thing and pull up another blank page. Apologies to my gracious editors.

At this point you may have gathered that I’m a cautious overthinker prone to questioning the motivations behind my actions in preparation for my next move. In other words, you won’t find me making any spontaneous choices that aren’t scheduled in my planner at least two weeks in advance. I am by no means a risk taker, and I dread the mental push and pull that accompany decision making. I’ve always silently envied people who breeze through life, confidently making assertions left and right, wondering how they could be so certain of the outcome.

Art by Adriana Sanchez | Daily Trojan

The summer before my sophomore year, I was required to make a difficult decision between continuing a friendship with a person who had emotionally manipulated me and guilt-tripped me into staying, or cutting that person off. In the subsequent months that followed, I personally felt responsible for the turmoil that had ensued, believing that the painful relationship was completely in my power. I spent too many late nights pinned down, taking the blame for the pain on both ends when in reality it had been a two-way street. In the end, I questioned whether or not I had made the right choice. 

If there’s one thing that’s for certain amid all the ambivalence, I’m undoubtedly appreciative that I am granted options in my day-to-day comings and goings, have endless selections at my disposal and am given the power of choice in spite of the circumstances. I also acknowledge that weighing the good against the bad in hopes that the better alternative will ultimately prevail is just a normal mechanism for people to get through life as functioning human beings. It’s not that I fear screwing up royally and being forced to endure insufferable consequences for my actions, but buried deep down is a panic that one wrong step will have me spiraling.

However, time and time again, being so acutely indecisive implies that I am preoccupied by the notion that my life trajectory is set so that everything is and must be under my control. Admittedly, this is a foolish thought because as much as I plot and plan, things rarely turn out in a similar fashion to the idealized version in my head. But maybe I’ve been missing the point all along. Maybe it’s liberating that I’m not always at the helm of my ship. At the end of the day, when I’m forced to commit to my intentions and silence the what-ifs brewing in my mind, then I’ll know rest assured that it’s time to move forward without looking back.

Bonnie Wong is a sophomore majoring in journalism. Her column, “Plan B,” runs every other Thursday.