31 Flavors

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?

Source: Twentysomething: The Paradox of Choice, gen-Y style

Image: http://www.entrepreneur.com/business-opportunities/baskinrobbins/32918.html



  1. I often wonder if I would have been better off if I didn’t have a choice in my life path and had to learn to appreciate what was set before me. My grandmother was the first in her family to attend a facility of higher education (Oklahoma State University). She’s still says today that when women went to college in the 1950s, they were to become a teacher, nurse, or secretary. She chose teaching. At this time, this was an amazing opportunity! A single, 18 year old woman moving 100 miles away to become educated and specialize in a career… a REAL career! Who’d a thunk?

    Today, this is considered archaic. As you said, Arianna, we are inundated with so many choices! In my case, I am so afraid to make a mistake that I tend to over-analyze my decisions and remain idle for fear of failure. Think of how foolish our ancestors probably think we are. Heavens to Betsy that someone may actually think we are… how do you say… spoiled?

  2. as barry says maximize freedom.

    1. Sorry who is this Barry you speak of?

  3. People used to complain in the past that their parents or whoever pushed them into being something they didn’t want and now we are “free” to choose what we want to be and yet we still complain. It goes to show you.. human nature…we are never satisfied!

  4. If we discover a desire within us that nothing in this world can satisfy, also we should begin to wonder if perhaps we were created for another world. -C.S. Lewis

    1. Ooo I like that quote…

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