During a recent talk at a study abroad conference, I reminded a group of college students just how lucky we are. Travel has a way of hammering that point home, of reminding us that we’re so fortunate to have food on the table, shoes on our feet and opportunity in front of us. Most people in the world aren’t so lucky.
But something strange happens to those of us who have endless opportunities (which, by the way, includes 99 percent of people reading this blog. Even if you don’t feel fortunate on this particular day, you’ve likely got it better than most people around the globe). We find ourselves paralyzed by all of our choices. We can’t decide which path to take. We freeze in indecision, which sometimes means that often, we do nothing at all.
I’ve written about this before, after reading Undecided, a fabulous book about whether women can really “have it all.” The women interviewed for the book were all ambitious, yet paralyzed by indecision because they had so much opportunity. (First-world problem, anyone?) Each felt so much pressure to DO THE RIGHT THING WITH HER LIFE that she couldn’t decide which way to turn.
I don’t often have this problem because I’m a do-er rather than a wait-er. When I have a lot of choices, I tend to try to do everything — which can have negative consequences, just like doing nothing.
But at the moment I’m finding myself paralyzed over making a certain choice. I know I want to travel in March, but I don’t know where. Initially I thought I’d have a friend to travel with, which made this choice far easier because the two of us had to pick destinations together. Then I thought I’d meet up with a friend in Kenya, but turns out she’s mostly unavailable in March, too.
Which means: I can go wherever I want.
Totally awesome, right? Yet it’s so awesome that I can’t make a decision.
This reminds me of when I was graduating from college, and a lot of my friends didn’t know what was next. We can do whatever we want! I used to tell them. Easy for me to say: I was headed to journalism school. In retrospect, I realize the next step wasn’t as obvious for some of my peers.
Now I’m in that boat: I don’t know what I want. Do I want East Africa? Or Nicaragua? Or somewhere entirely different… say Thailand or Tasmania? I want it all, yet I know I can’t let that prevent me from making a decision.
Have you ever been paralyzed by too many choices? Are there any decisions you’re putting off RIGHT NOW because you can’t hone in on what you want?
If you’re thinking of taking some serious time to travel, check out my eguide How to Take a Career Break to Travel.