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The Challenge of Choice

As humans, we pride ourselves on being creatures of free will. Our ability to choose where we go, what we do, and with whom we interact is cherished, fought for, defended, and exercised on a daily basis. Free will is the source of our curiosity, creativity, and ultimately each of our individual identities.

Maintaining free will and identity in modern society requires awareness - of self, of affect on others, of surroundings. This constant consideration is how we manage to cooperate as a species to build cities, grow food, cure diseases, and thrive as a whole. Our choices have meaning and impact - both individually and collectively - and ultimately maintain our freedom to continue choosing our own paths.

However, while an incredible gift, this freedom can also be a double-edged sword. Having a choice is empowering - it’s as though we’re given the reins to guide fate. But as quickly as we make one choice, countless more spring up to take its place. And within each choice there could be countless options from which to choose - How to spend free time, what route to take in getting someplace, what book to read, what products to buy and businesses to support - the list is endless.

And here is where we are met with the potential to be overwhelmed, smothered by a litany of possibilities. And now that we can access so much more information than ever before, and thusly so many more options, the smothering effect can quickly result in catatonia.

That is to say, we refrain from choosing in light of having too many options. And so much ill can come of this: careers go stagnant, values become relative, discipline fades into the past.

But there is hope! The key to overcoming the plethora of options is simple: trust oneself. Whatever choices we must make, we should make them based on what we know and learn as we continue to move forward. The moment we become indecisive and inactive is the moment we fail to progress, to grow, and to become more confident in whatever future choices we must inevitably make.

So the next time you are faced with an overwhelming number of options, choose the one that stands out off the bat and let go of the rest. If you need them they will come back to you later. If not, you’ve just saved yourself from quite a headache. Ultimately trust that you will know what to do with the results of your choices. And never stop learning.

Learning makes us as powerful as our ability to choose.