Tell me you can't relate to this.
I log into Netflix. I'm not quite sure what I'm in the mood to watch. I spend the next twenty-five minutes scrolling through every single title in every single category.
I scroll through "Suspenseful TV Sci-Fi & Fantasy": No, I've wasted enough of my life on Heroes. MacGyver...almost, but no.
Oh, a category called "Popular on Facebook"? What could go wrong? As much as the combination of the title LOL, Miley Cyrus, and Demi Moore tempt me, I have to pass. I'm also going to pass on the sixteenth Air Bud movie. I've also promised myself to never watch another movie that has Jason Statham as the lead.
Even with the movies and shows I love in the "Watch It Again" category (Pulp Fiction, Super 8, Friday Night Lights, Tommy Boy, Liar Liar, Lars and the Real Girl), I can't decide if I'm in the mood to give them another go.
I'm plagued by the curse of too many choices.
It happens to me all the time. I'm sure it happens to you, too. I was at the store last week looking at deodorant. They had over 400 types of deodorant to choose from. Different brands, different scents, solid, semi-solid, gel, spray, a little douchey, really douchey.
The incredible amount of choices we have as Americans can leave us feeling overwhelmed, even burdened. This is really evident not only in silly things like Netflix titles or deodorant but in major life decisions.
A couple of months ago, I was talking to a friend. And as most of my favorite conversations go, this one turned to the topic of what we really want to do with our lives and when we would start doing what we really want to do. This friend has a well-paying job but ultimately doesn't want to be doing that. He wants to get into working for himself, being an entrepreneur, and finding a way to help out with people in poverty in the Dominican.
The problem is that he doesn't know if he should leave his job now and chase this crazy dream of his or stay where he is, continue to save some money, and venture out when he's a little more well off. He feels like he's stuck in limbo, almost a purgatory until he figures out which choice to make about his life.
I can relate. I often lament that I have too many interests--I love to teach, I love kids, I love working with people, I love to write, I love to create, I love to be in nature, I love to be in the city, I love making a church happen, I love to speak, I love to play music, and on and on and on. And I have no idea which of the seventeen roads in front of me are the path I should take next. Maybe it's just one road I have to take. Maybe some of these roads can be merged together. Some of them probably can't be. I had the same problem deciding which college to go to, and once I decided which college to go to, I struggled with deciding which of the 150 or so majors I could explore.
More often than not, I find myself crippled with indecision with what to do in my life. It's like sitting on my couch, scrolling endlessly through the titles on Netflix without being able to pick a single freaking movie. More often than not, I consider myself to be cursed--I have too many choices and no way to make a decision.
But there's a problem.
Having choices isn't a curse. It's a blessing.
As my friend talked about his experience with poverty in the Dominican, I thought back to the time I spent last summer in a poor village in Honduras. Here's what struck me the most about people in poverty: they don't get to wrestle with which school they can go to. They don't have a smorgasbord of career options laid out before them. They don't have the luxury of struggling to decide if they want to stay at their high-paying job or spend some time in another country helping other people.
They don't have the blessing of the burden of choice.
Most people in poverty don't just lack severely in material things, they lack severely in the opportunity to do anything but the track seemingly pre-ordained for them to follow. For some, it's a minimal education and then off to a factory or farm job for the rest of their lives. For others, it's an early pregnancy only to be followed by several more children by several different fathers. For others, it's drugs, gangs, and early deaths.
What they wouldn't give to have the "problem" of deciding between a job with a $60k salary that they don't really enjoy or a job with a $35k salary that they absolutely love. Oh, if that could only be their burden.
Even in this moment, I'm sitting here in the shadow of so many decisions that need to be made. Some are small, some are huge. Some could completely alter the way my life shakes out. I'm scared and clueless about more of them than I should be.
And you know what? I'm blessed. Not everyone gets to have as much say as I do in my life.