The paradox of choice argues that the more options we have, the unhappier we are. Having too many possibilities makes us constantly feel like we’re settling which leaves us with a terrible feeling of discontent. Fun, right?
Some of the biggest choices we make in life leave us feeling this way. How do we choose a city when there are so many cool cities out there? How do we choose a partner when there are so many fish in the sea? How do we choose a career when we feel like we could be good at lots of things?
My life has been filled with choices that have changed my trajectory. I chose to go to college in my hometown in Florida, but felt I was missing out on an opportunity to live somewhere new, so I chose to transfer across the country to Whitman College. I chose to study psychology, but enviously watched friends study philosophy, biology, history and math.
Your choices don’t always work out, but they do teach you a lot. For example, at the ripe age of 17 I chose to be premed. Fast-forward seven years, a long of list of science pre-requisites, and three jobs in the health industry, I had to face an unsettling realization that 1) I’m a germaphobe and 2) I’m afraid of hospitals. At 24, I was left feeling more lost than when I originally started college. My liberal arts education opened the door to be able to do pretty much anything – how could I choose? More importantly, how would I know I was I choosing the right path for me? And how could I shake this uneasy feeling that I was settling?
My advice to you, Class of 2015 – stop worrying about settling. Stop. It’s a recipe for disaster and we’re making ourselves sick over it.
The more I ask people about how they got to where they are in their careers, the more I realize that no one has a linear path. Life is filled with a series of curve balls and it is your response to those curve balls that will shape your career.
All you have to do is pick something. Commit.
We’re all afraid of it, committing, picking a path and going, but without choosing something we become paralyzed by the terror of having so many options. You’re 20 and the stakes are not that high. They seem high, but they’re really not. You still have your entire life to figure out what you want to do.
People often ask if I felt like the time I was pre-med was a waste – I tell them that it was probably the most important time of my life. Just as important as figuring out what you want to do is figuring out what you don’t want to do.
And guess what? I also have the best job in the world now, all because during my quarter-life crisis I found out about an awesome startup called Koru that helps young people find their direction. I’m lucky enough to have my dream job now, but it didn’t come without my own series of curve balls.