The curse of opportunities

In the end that was the choice you made, and it doesn’t matter how hard it was to make it. It matters that you did.”    

Cassandra Clare

How easy she makes it sound!
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Everyone one of us runs into a quandary once in awhile. If we know what we want and understand what we need, decision making should be a piece of cake; yet it isn’t. When we find ourselves perched atop a mountain of possibilities and opportunities, we end up sitting with clipboard and pen and deliberating over best route options and after hours of thinking we take the hesitant climb down.

Have you ever asked yourself why this act of decision has become an ordeal? I’ll tell you why – opportunities. Yes, and too many of them! Haven’t you lived the tribulation of having to choose from a hundred brands of aspirin or losing the Flipkart deal by seconds just because you wanted to cross-check with Amazon? The number of possibilities are literally endless! Ultimately, it is not that we are incapable of coming to a decision – it’s just that we are unable to.

This glut of opportunities has turned into a curse worsening our situations. What if we didn’t have so much to choose from? In a 2010 survey, a team of researchers hired by a hospitality firm found that people tend to eat lesser and quicker at a restaurant from a limited menu than a more comprehensive and pricier buffet. Apart from the gastronomical implications of it, one thing is blaringly clear : we are spoilt for choice, and quite literally so.

We aren’t going places.
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For the consequence of clarity and congruity, let us consider professional lives. When asked about your plans for the future, do you have a certain answer? Most of you would say not. Now, if I were to ask the same question to someone 25 years ago, the conception would be very different. I think you get the breeze.

The more dismal fact is that for the 12,000-odd career choices we offer now, we are not moving fast enough. The scientific and technological developments made in the years between 1980 and 2000 in ratio of available resources is quite clearly more than the next twenty. Our productivity as individuals of a race is depleted. Unusual, isn’t it? Are these many opportunities then verily helping us or is it rather turning out to be one great jinx?

Wishful thinking is a distraction.

This phenomena stems from the fact that in face of a luxurious number of opportunities we often feel lost, out of place. Little setbacks make us rethink our judgement; a lot of setbacks ultimately have us decide against the wisdom of our choices. We intend to give everything and anything a try. Thoughts like “I wish I had taken a year’s drop. I might have gotten into IIT ” or “I should have chosen more wisely after 10th standard, my interest does not lie here” detract us from our current pursuits. The outcome is that we’re back to the beginning:

What do I do?

Which is the right choice for me?

Over time, you master weighing possibilities cynically by putting yourself on top of that mountain and crossing out the boxes on the checklist. Smart, aren’t we?

Paradox of Choice – Time wasted
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Too many options is the haystack that stops you from finding the needle – the right choice.

Not again!

Today, the proportion of actually tenable opportunities is, for all practical purposes, the same as it ever was. The pool has exponentiated, but if I were to sit down and put my finger on a career path I’m just as lost, if not more. In the massively long list of available opportunities, it is painstakingly hard to find your high (just about how many websites have capitalised on this?) – an avenue that you’d fit into perfectly, like Harry’s wand.
We are murdering very precious time looking for a pretense social media has sanctified: the pursuit of happiness, so much so that we fear it. Today, I am unsettled in much advance when faced with a decision because of the impending, yet requisite, labor that must go into something so silly. Why?

Putting a finger to a point is so sapping now, because “I could have done that instead”.

Authors’ Note

This piece of writing is not intended for disparage. We try to explore ideas from offbeat boulevards so that conventions are challenged. More variety is a burden we don’t identify easily. Who knows where the road will take you? You still have to make those decisions and mull over the possible outcomes. It is a big world in here, and we must pull through; just don’t make a mountain out of every molehill.

– Nishit Bindra and Shruthi Srinivasan

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