I had a great trip to Alaska this past September with my dad. The goal of this trip was to grow closer, which I believe we did, as well as relish in the beauty of America’s largest state. On the last day of our trip we were sitting in a quaint local coffee shop enjoying breakfast and the black elixir of life, while savoring the final morning in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.
My dad enjoyed a large bowl of oatmeal, comparable to the size of the state, while I enjoyed a locally baked gluten free/vegan muffin. It was a weekday, and people were in the shop working busily on their laptops, or quickly coming in for a morning pick me up before heading into the office. There is a warmth of peace that washes over my soul when I am able to sit and savor my morning without rushing off somewhere.
Rushing isn’t really my style anyway, but that’s not the point of this story. As we exchanged some of our favorite highlights of the trip, we discussed a few more “serious” recaps as well. Things like “what do I want to do with my life” and “it’s OK not to know, but you have to do something.” You know, the typical stuff parents discuss with their children. While I thought by 29 I would “know what I want to do” the answer is that I still don’t. The difference now is that this no longer worry’s me.
I no longer spend days ruminating in the self preconceived notion that there’s something wrong with me because I can’t decide on one “thing” I want to do with my life, or my time.
Aside from the decadent banana chocolate chip muffin I savored that beautiful morning in Alaska, there is another take away from the coffee date with my dad, one that we joke about to this day. When wrapping up the conversation, he looked at me square in the eyes and told me with as much love as possible that I have a commitment problem. While some might have been taken aback by a possibly brash comment, I laughed because this wasn’t news to me. I DO have a commitment problem, in many areas of my life.
The concept of commitment makes me feel stuck, and my human instinct is to deflect these feelings by avoiding “seemingly” permanent decisions.
The truth is nothing is permanent, but my mind struggles to keep focus because there are SO many options available. What a beautiful world it is. When diving deeper into the why (something I do a lot) behind my lack of desire to commit to things in my life, I realized it’s not that I’m necessarily a commitment-phobe, but rather I’m an incessant over-thinker.
I have the ability to overthink to the point of distress if I’m not careful, which is why it is so difficult for me to make decisions.
If you take me to a bakery and tell me to choose one item, I will stand there for far longer than a non over-thinker because I cannot choose just one. If you give me five minutes of internet connection to post a photo on Instagram, I can’t do it because it takes me at least 20 minutes to think of what I want to write, and how I want to edit the photo. If you say something that hurt my feelings I will over analyze what you’ve said long after the comment was made.
If you give me a lot of information at once, I’m likely to feel slightly overwhelmed because I need more time to process and understand, and if I don’t fully understand something I get uncomfortable. If you tell me “you have an autoimmune disease” I will obsessively try to find out why, and how to “fix” it because my mind struggles to shut itself off when things go awry. If I have to have a serious conversation with someone I replay the words in my head over. and over. and over again. Tell me to pick a college major and it will take me ten years, and five changes before I graduate with something totally unrelated to the first four ideas.
While a lot of these tendencies of mine are a burden in some ways, there are plenty of positives to being an over-thinker. My preparation for most activities likely considers multiple outcomes, and I plan for them all. My relationships are strong because I’m extremely self aware and have the ability to calmly approach situations. My attention to detail is so strong I sometimes drive myself mad when things aren’t done to my standards. Likely my favorite of them all is my creativity, I can’t paint a sunset to save my skin, but I can write a damn good blog post.
All of this is to say that those of you out there who struggle to make commitments, I understand you. Those of you out there who do not struggle with over-thinking, be mindful of those of us that do. Making decisions is one of the biggest hurdles I leap over, and I’m well aware that this is something I will constantly be working on. While I don’t think it’s smart to just roll over and never commit to things in life, I am more patient with myself when big decisions need to be made.
As for “what do I want to do with my life” I think I’ve realized I want to do many things. I want to travel, I want to learn how to farm, I want to live in multiple states, I want to find a job that allows me to be flexible, I want to become a millionaire, I want to spend more time with my family, and I want to pick up skills from each “job” I work that will help catalyze me into the next chapter of life. Running away from discomfort is not the answer, but I’ve realized sometimes it’s OK not to commit. As long as it satisfy my lifestyle then everything is groovy.
On that note, I’m off to spend far too many hours mulling over which new hiking boots to buy. Praise Jesus for REI’s return policy. Helping over-thinkers like me since 1938.
Q: Do you ever struggle with over-thinking?