I was driving the other day and made a decision to switch lanes. I ended up behind a slower vehicle and then had to switch back to my previous lane to make a right turn. I was then three cars behind my original spot before switching lanes the first time. I wasn’t upset or frustrated (probably because I wasn’t in any hurry), but I did have the thought that I made the wrong choice and should have just stayed in my lane in the first place! That got me thinking about all the decisions I make while driving and how easy it is for me to make them, sometimes without really even thinking about. What time to leave the house, which route to take, which lane to be in, when to switch lanes, what speed to go, etc. I’m kind of competitive and I’m always evaluating the best option that will get me where I need to be the quickest. In the end, I’m well aware that most of these choices don’t really matter. So what if I’m three cars slower now? So what if I get to the next red light 1 minute sooner? Most of the time, the time I save in my strategic driving is either insignificant or ends up averaging out in the end. At times it makes a difference and I am the first one home from church or I walk into a meeting just in time. But mostly it’s just a fun game.
In some instances, however, such small and simple choices could have life changing effects. I could be in just the wrong spot at just wrong the time and someone could hit me. And no matter how careful I had been in making my choices leading up to that moment, I could not have had the foreknowledge to make any different decision. Sure, looking back I could say, “if only I had left five minutes earlier…” or “if only I had taken the slightly longer route…” But in the moment I can only make the best decisions I can based on a very limited amount of knowledge. And while there is potential for drastic results, that can’t have any bearing on my present choices…meaning stress or anxiety would be pointless. So I don’t sweat it. I make a choice and I live with it. I just keep driving. So how come that is so easy when I’m driving, but incredibly difficult with most other aspects of my life?
This is my confession time. I am incapable of making decisions. I hate decision making. I am beginning to realize that my inability to make decisions is a massive stumbling block in multiple areas of my life. I’m happy to say that I’m making a little progress. I am now capable of ordering for myself at a restaurant in a decent amount of time…without the waitress returning 5 times to see if we are ready yet. True story. I hate ordering at restaurants. I have to read the entire menu to ensure I am making the best possible selection. But like I said, I’m getting better. Especially with restaurants I’m familiar with. I don’t even have to study the menu online before we go. But it’s taken almost 30 years to get to this point.
Most of the time I don’t realize why I suddenly swell up with anxiety and feel my mind start to shut down. I could happily be sorting through a pile of papers and all the sudden I encounter items that don’t have a place and I don’t know what to do with and suddenly I can’t think and I’m completely overwhelmed and miserable and can’t organize anymore. Or I’m working on a project and I have to decide something and I can’t finish it. Give me a question with a solution and I’m happy to figure it out. Spend hours or days laboring over it. But a decision in which there is no real solution, in which it is completely subjective, and I’m rendered helpless. I analyze all the pros and cons and when everything seems pretty even, most normal people just make a choice and move on, since clearly it doesn’t matter. I, however, keep searching for some reason behind my choice. I can’t just choose at random; it has to be justified. Why the chicken when we have chicken almost every night? Can’t it just be because it sounds good?? Not good enough when attached to a con. Something has to tip the balance one way or the other. And this is the cause of most of my anxiety in my life.
So in driving, or even soccer for that matter, I am able to recognize the insignificance of my choices. So I pass the ball to the wrong person. No big deal, I’ll just get it back. So I switched lanes too soon. No big deal, I’m just 20 seconds slower. What’s the difference with life?? One difference is judgment. In many cases I fear others judgment. In driving, no one else knows or cares. In soccer, the moment is fleeting and I can do something stupid and immediately do something awesome that effectively cancels out the stupid. In life, it’s not that fast paced. Everything is in slow motion and pleasing the crowd is a lot harder. But sometimes, it’s not even about the crowd. It’s more just about being right. All the time. Always choosing the right. Not knowing if I’m choosing the right is overwhelming. I’m working on it. Maybe someday I’ll be able to navigate my life the way I drive, even if some would say it’s a little reckless.