I’ve always envied those people who don’t overthink life—who just live without paralyzing themselves in indecision or getting mired in thoughts, estimates, contingency plans, and calculations. It’s not that I hate being a thinker—someone often fully consumed within my own mind. It’s just that sometimes I worry that I worry too much. I like being a thinker; I just don’t want to be an over-thinker—wasting time with worry and hypotheticals instead of experiencing and enjoying life.
There is value in prudence. It isn’t wrong to look before you leap. Overthink the surgery—planning for every contingency. But just pick an outfit, entrée, or flavor of ice cream. Don’t spend too much time thinking about trivial things.
There’s a balance to be reached. You don’t need to scrutinize every step, but you also can’t walk though life with your eyes closed and expect to not bump into anything (or get hit). You don’t need a detailed analysis of the region’s meteorological data to fetch the mail. But it might be wise to inspect that car/house/significant other before you commit to it/her/him.
It’s the small things that I worry about worrying too much about. Sometimes I spend so much time deciding what to order at a restaurant, you’d think I was considering a declaration of war. Even when the consequences are inconsequential (such as what I’ll eat for one meal on one particular day), I overthink things. And then even after I’ve made up my mind, I second-guess myself. It’s very frustrating.
Few decisions are permanent, and yet I ponder them as if the outcome will become my lifelong prison: What should I say? What should I pack? Should I wear a sweater, jacket, or coat? Should I have a beef or turkey burger? Bacon—yes or no?
My indecision often stems from the fear of making the wrong choice. It’s as if the question is part of a test on which I’m being graded and the results will be on my permanent record. Oftentimes the worst-case scenario is merely some temporary discomfort, but I agonize over the decision as though I’m making a lifelong commitment.
Sometimes reckless is the right posture. Sometimes impulsive behavior leads to pleasures that are easy to miss. I don’t want to be irresponsible, but I don’t want to think so much that I forget to live.