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The Paradox of Choice! 🙀
Happy Wednesday, my Dearest Twenty-Somethings! I hope everyone had a lovely Halloween. Apparently, I’m a fall gal now! That crisp, sweet air is hitting just right and the foliage is phenomenal. This week, let’s talk about choices—how we make them, and how we don’t.
I did not coin the term, “the paradox of choice,” just to be clear. Psychologist Barry Schwartz did, and wrote a book on the theory, which was published in 2004 (which I have not read; he also has a TED talk on the topic). The idea is that having more choices does not actually make our decision any easier—and ultimately, is one of our greatest roots of unhappiness today. He goes as far as to argue that choice overload leads us to feel powerless and frustrated because we focus on the opportunities we’re giving up, rather than the choice we’ve made.
For many, an abundance of choices equates to wealth, prosperity, and success; let’s not deny the privilege that choice carries. It is very much a facet of the 21st century, and Schwartz focuses primarily on consumerism, shoppers, and behavioral psychology in his research. Some might argue we have no choices at all because there’s no such thing as free will, but that’s a chat for another time, Jed…
Now, I’m no expert nor psychologist, so I won’t get too deep into it, but here’s my take. I am a painfully indecisive human being, and most people close to me know that. As young people, we are overwhelmed with choices that range from minuscule to path-shaping. Remember the anguish of deciding where you wanted to go to school, or whether or not to accept your first job offer? Killer.
Here are just a few choices I’ve stressed myself out over in the last few months: which kitty to adopt, which apartment to sign the lease on, what moving service to use, which neighborhood to live in, which book to read next, what career path to take, which plant/mirror/couch/rug would look best in my apartment, which credit card to open, which NYC airport to fly into, which friends to invite to my birthday—you get the gist.
Some are important and some are not. But whether you’re deciding to move across the country or just which playlist to listen to while you workout, we are overwhelmed with decisions, and often with choices as Twenty-Somethings. I used to consult my family and close friends on nearly every choice I made, from which photos to post on Instagram, to which pants would look best with the shoes I wanted to wear. And for what?! Here’s what I found in my own personal research: everyone has an opinion, and they are often unhelpful. Other people’s choices may differ from what’s best for you, or what you really want for yourself because, well, they are the choices of others. Further, asking people for their thoughts can be difficult to go back on when you make an opposing decision. So, let me share with you what I’ve been trying to tell myself: Stop asking people for their opinions!
Trusting your gut, listening to your intuition, and learning to follow your sixth sense are some of the most exciting aspects of our youth, are they not? Plus, it’s quite empowering to not worry about what other people think, and to learn to act from a place of personal interest. Get to know yourself, and decisions just might get easier!
While I haven’t read Schwartz’s work, I have read Anne Bogel’s Don’t Overthink It. My greatest takeaways from her research are that if you’re faced with two great options, it’s actually an easy decision, believe it or not. You’ll be happy with whatever you choose if both are worthy options, so you can’t go wrong. Stop dragging yourself through the agony and rip that Band-Aid off!
Another insight the book offered is that choice is draining, to say the least. It takes up space and robs you of your energy. So keep it simple, and trust what you know. I told you, self-help is helpful!
Don’t worry—for next week, I’d still love to know: What are your best tips for, and I hate this term, adulting? What life hacks might help a fellow Twenty-Something? How do you keep your arugula fresh? Do you have a genius Sunday routine? Let me know here.
In case you were wondering, I’ve been listening to Pink Skies’ EP, “Summer’s For Lovers.” With that, here are a few picks to get you through the week:
The Guest List by Lucy Foley - You know I love a good thriller! This was a tantalizing page-turner with a shocking twist in the end. Murder(s), an elegant wedding, and a remote Irish island. Let me know what you think!
Bustle: “What Does Gayle King Know That Other Journalists Don’t?” - One of my fave journos profiled the beloved Gayle King, and she just seems like such a love!
The Wall Street Journal: “Returning Workers Confront Creepy Time Capsules of Pre-Pandemic Life” - Plants and trash and snacks, oh my!
Bodega Cats - Enough said. 💙
MOCAGE Graphic Design - We love a trippy graphic text moment! And of course, an inspiring quote or two.
Catherine Cohen - One of my fave comedians, writers, poets, podcast hosts and all-around inspirations of all time! Most notably: check out her monthly advice column in W Magazine if you like how I write.
“Love’s Body” by Jonathan Wells
Love gives all its reasons
as if they were terms for peace.
Love is this but not that
that but not this.
Love as it always was.
But there is no peace in the mountain
cleft where the fruit bats scatter
from the light.
There is no peace in the hollow when
the heat snuffs night’s blue candle.
The outline of brown leaves on
the beach is the wind’s body.
A crow is squawking at the sun
as if the screech itself is dawn.
Let me hear every perfect note.
How I loved that jasper morning.
Affirmation of the week: My purpose is to simply make the most of what comes to me.
Question of the week: If you could have one human talent that you don’t currently have, what would it be?
Thank you all for reading this week’s newsletter! I’m always looking to improve my work, so leave a comment, send me a message, or fill out this form to tell me what you want to read about in upcoming Dear Twenty-Somethings! I’m all ears. Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads or online if you feel so inclined. And check out last week’s newsletter here in case you missed it. For next week, I’d love to know your best adulting hacks—let me know here.
If you liked what you read, send this newsletter to a friend! Heck, send it to 10 friends! Sending love and light to you, wherever you are. 🌟
Cheers & happy Wednesday! Stay well.
xoxoxo, Quinnie <3