Friday, March 11, 2022

Insight: Weighing my options

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

I admit it, there are times where I struggle with indecision. Faced with a dizzying array of options and choices for nearly every subject or issue, making the right selection has never been easy for me. 

It seems that I’m not alone in sizing up this dilemma. Results are in from the American Psychological Association’s annual survey of things that stress Americans out and about one-third of survey respondents listed “making a basic decision” as an issue they struggle with every day.

For those of us in this category, we can spend hours just perusing lists of television shows to stream on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Disney, or Apple+ channels. With that much content and programs to focus in on, indecision reigns supreme.

At times my wife has taken to reading a book while I scroll through the menu for Netflix. If I go over five minutes to choose something, she’ll stop and remind me that we’ve already watched a selection I’m pondering over.

Typically, I’ll fall into a routine of watching a television series to simplify my choice, but when we’ve watched all the episodes available, then once again I’m back to the indecisiveness of having to select another one.

The same struggle ensues when I hit the ice cream aisle at the supermarket. There are so many flavors, so many brands and so many options that come into play when I open that freezer door to make a choice of what to purchase and take home.

For my parents, the choice of what half gallon of ice cream to pick was always easy. My mother preferred vanilla and my father enjoyed strawberry while my brother and I liked chocolate. Therefore, when it came time for my parents to choose a selection for ice cream at the grocery store, they always picked “Neapolitan” with all three flavors included.

Through the years, I’ve found that opening the closet door to pick out items to wear for each day to also be a difficult task. I know enough to try and coordinate colors but have little fashion sense otherwise.

Between choosing a pullover sweater, a V-neck sweater, a button-down collared shirt, or a Henley collar shirt gives me the “Willies.” Do I wear jeans or pants, plaid or corduroy, long sleeve, or short sleeve?

No matter what clothing options are available to me, it is never an easy choice for me to make.

That’s why I preferred my clothing options when I served in the U.S. Air Force. There I had just two simple choices. If it was a formal occasion or I had to work indoors, I wore our blue uniform. For working outside, I wore our green fatigue uniform.

Imagine my indecision while driving and wanting to listen to music on the radio. My Hyundai Sonata came equipped with a Sirius XM radio system with thousands of channels available to me.

Early on, I chose to preset my car radio to avoid listening to thousands of snippets of songs or conversations and constantly fiddling with the radio dial to find something to settle on.

Even doing that, I’m torn between listening to commercial-free 1960s music, 1970s music, 1980s music, 1990s music, The Highway (country music), and an all-news channel or the Major League Baseball channel. There are only six preset buttons on my radio dial and during the summer, I’ve also been known to listen to live baseball games being broadcasted if I make a long drive somewhere.

As a newspaper editor, I have frequently questioned selections I have been forced to make regarding photographs that appear in the paper. Many times, it’s clear what choice to make for publication, but when it’s not, second-guessing can create genuine turmoil for me in wondering if I have chosen the right one or not.

No matter what the subject or the issue, having to make a decision on deadline for the newspaper is never easy when I have an assortment of great photographs to select from.

Every day the responsibility to make an immediate decision can be mind boggling when you are indecisive.

I had to get stamps at the post office and the clerk asked me which stamps I preferred, flags, sunflowers, squirrels, Women’s History Month, blueberries, or the Lunar New Year were available and a line half a mile long was standing and waiting behind me.

Imaging looking over the immense greeting card selection at Walmart or Walgreens for Valentine’s Day and trying to decide which card is right for this year? Or looking at a Chinese restaurant menu online and trying to select the right type of soup to go with my choice of meal.

As I’ve gotten older, a lot of my decision making is based upon experience or comes down to flipping a coin. I’ve also been known to take some time to think things over and weigh all the possibilities and potential outcomes when I have a difficult decision to make regarding a work situation. My inner voice always tries to convince myself that I’m confident in the choices that I must make no matter what.    

Now to determine what to fix for dinner tonight. Or not. <  

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