Confessions of a teenage decision-phobe
It’s 3 p.m. and I’m standing in the middle of Topshop, bags strewn all over the floor. One of my best friends has just threatened (insincerely… I hope) to attack me with the two, almost identical, clutch bags I have been staring at for a good 10 minutes. This may initially seem an extreme reaction to a bit of procrastination, but trust me, her Incredible Hulk moment was more than justified. We had just spent four hours wandering up and down the same street, trying to find the same present for the same schoolmate. Beginning to look a bit more understandable now, right? Add to this the fact that we had visited Topshop on no less than three occasions to sigh indecisively over the same two bags and my friend begins to look almost saintly. My name is Lucy and I’m incapable of deciding on anything… and I mean ANYTHING.
I’ve always been terrible at decision-making and it is an established joke among my friends that I struggle to make the simplest of choices without asking pretty much everyone I know: Parents, friends, distant relatives, strangers on the street… Being a bit (okay, a lot) of a drama queen, I long ago christened myself a “decision-phobic” (Shakespeare, eat your heart out). While my indecisiveness may not constitute an actual medical diagnosis, it is true that I have serious issues with taking the initiative and making a choice, especially when it involves the direction of my own life. Recently, one exasperated classmate even suggested that I make all my decisions based on a coin flip or dice roll — I feel like this idea may have been inspired by The Big Bang Theory, which makes me… Sheldon? Oh dear.
Whether this inability to decide stems from low self-confidence or pure laziness, I don’t know, but what’s pretty clear is that it is a complete pain for everyone involved, including myself. The main victim of my indecision over the years has been my poor mom, who has been relentlessly asked her opinion on everything from party outfits to school subject choices. Understandably, she’s getting a bit fed up with this slightly pathetic pantomime before any remotely significant event, and so am I, which led me to write this article.
It’s no longer my mom’s job to choose on my behalf; I turned 18 in September, which means as an adult (it’s so weird to call myself that), I’m legally responsible for the decisions I make — which is terrifying. Even writing that down makes me feel a tiny bit nauseous. But this birthday has forced me to face facts: I can’t rely on everyone else to make my decisions for me anymore. As hard as it might be at first, I’ve got to get used to taking full responsibility for my actions and suffering the consequences when I make the wrong choice. Like many teenagers, I find the prospect of handling everything on my own pretty daunting, especially when it comes to anything concerning numbers. (Math is not my strong point.)
Now my self-titled “decision-phobia” is annoying enough in everyday situations, but it becomes an absolute nightmare when important life choices are involved. I was recently faced with the choice of where to go to university and the options couldn’t have been more different: A campus in the countryside or a college based in the heart of London. The conflict between reluctance to take the safe option and fear of the unknown (I live in a pretty tiny seaside village) went on in my head for about two months, and we’re talking an epic battle here… think Foreman vs. Ali, Tom vs. Jerry, Nicki vs. Mariah. And that’s only a tiny exaggeration.
However, the looming prospect of moving out and going to university has given me the shock I needed to tackle my decision-phobic ways once and for all (I hope). Even though it’s going to be tough not to return to my old ways, I know that I need to change. Although the idea of going cold-turkey has led to nightmarish visions of me ringing a friend desperately yelling, “Do I take the bus or train home? Tell me woman, TELL ME!,” I’m hoping that I can gradually teach myself to take more responsibility for my own choices.
Since resolving to amend my ways, I’ve already made huge progress. After agonizing over which university to choose, I decided to go back and visit them both once more. Though this meant another two days off school and more gas money (sorry, mom!), being able to experience the atmosphere of each university proved invaluable. I immediately felt that the countryside campus was too similar to what I am used to; my visit there made me realize that I’m ready for something new and exciting. Which means… I’m moving to London!
In the end, I went with my gut instinct, and I’m currently feeling pretty happy with the choice that I made. I’m hoping that this means goodbye (and good riddance) to indecision and hello to a new phase in my life. If I manage to choose my breakfast cereal this morning, that is…Oh well, small steps!
Lucy is a student from the south of England who speaks fluent sarcasm. She habitually quotes literature at inappropriate moments and is incapable of crossing a room without walking into an item of furniture. While her long term goal is to write for a living, for now she’s just trying to survive her exams – whilst attempting to make her dog a minor internet celebrity, of course.