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Social anxiety

Choice

Choice. Do we have it? Do we want it?

This morning, D had to leave home early and I chose not to get up early, too, and join him for breakfast. For my lone breakfast, I chose not to have my usual toast and coffee, and just to have muesli. Later, feeling cold as I sat at my computer, I chose to go outside and sit in the warm sun. I could have chosen to put on more clothes to get warm, but I didn’t. Even when the sun hid behind a cloud and I felt cold again, I chose to wait for it to come out again and warm me up.

Confused

Life is a series of choices, some harder to make than others. I often find it harder to make choices than I ought to because, subconsciously, I start to wonder what’s expected of me, or what a normal choice might be, or what someone else would like me to choose, rather than simply what I want. I couldn’t have said at the time, for instance, why I hesitated so much when someone said, “Breakfast will be later; do you want a cup of coffee now?” Later, I worked out why. It was because I was thinking: No, I don’t want coffee but am I expected to want coffee? Would it be the normal thing to want coffee before breakfast?

I was just pondering this thing called choice today when I read David Rory O’Neill’s current blog post, in which he asks, “Why do people choose to live here?” He’s talking about New York, a place that’s fascinating to visit but wouldn’t be my first choice of a home town either. In fact, I remember wondering the same thing decades ago when I visited New York in the middle of winter at -19°C. Fortunately, we’re not all the same and a lot of people choose to live in New York – otherwise it wouldn’t be there to visit.

Choosing where to live is usually a big decision. I made that choice long ago and am very pleased with what I decided. I also chose whom to marry and, as we’ve been together for donkey’s years and still get on well, that was definitely a good choice.

I’ve made bad choices, too, including one that I believe led to me getting social anxiety. But I want to stress that I didn’t know one would lead to the other. In fact, as I’ve said before and will say again:

No one chooses to have social anxiety.

Today I also discovered the lyrics of a song I’ve probably never heard: Freedom Of Choice by Devo. The song ends:

Freedom of choice
Is what you got
Freedom from choice
Is what you want

Do you want freedom from choice? Do I? Do we? I wonder.

By Miriam Drori

Author, editor, attempter of this thing called life.

6 replies on “Choice”

There’s a certain illusion of burden-less-ness that comes from having others make your choices for you. But in the end, you’re still making a choice: choosing to do as others tell you or rebeling against their commands/demands/etc.

Interesting post Miriam. I’m fascinated by how the choices we make – sometimes seemingly insignificant – can have long-lasting effects. It’s one of the reasons I love the film Sliding Doors (aside from the fact that it has the lovely John Hannah in it!).
Seven years ago we made a choice to move 100 miles away from the group of towns we and our children had lived in all their lives. At the time there were pros and cons, and in that intervening seven years, events that we couldn’t have foreseen have sometimes made us wonder whether we did the right thing; would things have worked out differently if we’d stayed? Certainly a lot of people thought it was a choice I shouldn’t have made, as the only child of parents in their early sixties/early seventies. But many of the critics weren’t aware of the whole picture.
I’m not sure where the real burden lies. Is it in having choice, or in not feeling free to make the choice we want because of guilt or the expectations of others? 🙂

Good question. Sometimes, even with seemingly insignificant choices, making a choice based solely on my wishes feels selfish. But then others are frustrated by my indecisiveness.

Good question. The answer for me is a resounding ‘No.’ It might seem selfish at times and I too, can be indecisive and sometimes worry about how my choices might make me look (although I worry less about that now) but I’ve been in situations when choices have been made for me and I’d always have preferred to may my own choices (even if they would have been wrong) – no matter how long it took me – rather than feel so powerless….

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