Have you ever gone into an ice cream store such as Baskin-Robbins, walked back and forth in front of the glass a few times, looked at each of the different flavors of ice cream, sampled one, two, three, or four flavors and still found yourself unable to make a choice? What if you pick the flavor of the month, (which this month is picnic punch, a watermelon and green apple sherbert swirled together advertised to help you beat the summer heat in style) and then regret your choice? You start to think that maybe you should have just stuck to good ol’ pistachio almond. It’s never let you down. What if there were so many choices that instead of picking something and going for it, you do nothing? Instead you are paralyzed by too many choices and simply walk out of the store with no ice cream to beat the summer heat.
Many post graduates find themselves in this dilemma, which I didn’t realize I was in until last night when I somehow ended up in a blog post about this paralyzing problem after doing some research on graduate programs. According to Ryan Healy, the typical advice given to the baby boomer generation was to “go to college, graduate with a technical degree and become a professional, preferably a doctor, lawyer or accountant. Join the workforce for a few years, then get married and have a kid or two.” They had fewer choices. Now take Generation Y, our generation, and the advice we (usually) got was that we could do anything. We could be whatever we wanted to be. And therein lies the problem. Just like at Baskin-Robbins, we have too many choices! Searching for a job has paralyzed me. It has made me think about all the different choices I have. Did I choose the right major? If I don’t find a job in the field I chose, should I find a job in a different field? Should I go back to graduate school? Do I go back for a Master’s related to what I studied for my undergrad? Do I go back and get my Master’s in a completely different field? Can I handle the debt? So, then maybe I should find a job first and save money? Then should I just settle for any job? Maybe I should take that internship and then find a part-time job to save money. I still need to choose what flavor of ice cream I should get!!! I just don’t know what the right choice is and instead of just choosing something, trying it and being content, I don’t choose anything. As Mr. Healy put it, we become paralyzed into “inaction”. And there are always the “what ifs.”
But we are in the 21st century and that is our reality, a constant choice. It takes me hours just to go grocery shopping. What I have learned is that there is no perfect choice and there will always be the “what ifs”. If you go into a field or job that doesn’t work out, then you can move on to the next thing you think might work. That is what is so great about working in today’s world. It’s not like 30 years ago when people would work for the same company for their entire life. It is a world filled with endless possibilities, and isn’t that much more interesting than a scripted life?