The Restaurant (Menu) Paralysis

Life is like a restaurant menu.

We all have experienced dining in a restaurant. We sit down and read the menu, which can sometimes be read at the counter or handed by the servers. Sometimes there are many items to choose from, and occasionally they do not include drinks, sides, and more.

On our first visit, we always get immediately stressed out, especially if the menu is heavy and we feel like we need 30 minutes or an hour to read through our options when there are many things to decide! How am I supposed to pick one dish? What was the best thing? As everyone around us ordered, we became more anxious — should we get what someone else was having? Would it be better than what I thought I wanted?

Finally, we decided to choose something — after asking the waiter about menu options. As soon as the waiter took the order and walked away, we felt buyer’s remorse.

“Did I pick right?”

As the food was delivered to the table, we looked at everyone else’s choice with envy. Their decision looked better; we wanted their entrees. Now that it was ours, what was in front of us did not seem appetizing anymore. We need to catch up on the comparison land. What happened to our lovely evening out?

We experience full of limitless options and choices with no guarantees. Today’s generation of young adults is exposed to an expensive world wherein they can leap nations and cultures in just a single bound, and new forms of entertainment and technology have multiple career possibilities almost infinitely. Yet, as options and opportunities expand, contentment and a sense of direction contract. Being told, “you can do and be anything you want,” has become more of a pressure cooker of expectations than a motivational quote. And when you choose any aspect of your life, how do you know it will be both appetizing and satisfying? You don’t. And living in this restaurant menu world makes that reality harder to swallow.

Sometimes, some people need to take a menu. People who refuse it. They found one dish on the menu that they liked and always ordered. Why stress ourselves with more choices? We order what we know we will enjoy and don’t fret over what we’re missing out.

When, if ever, we get sick of what we always order, then we may entertain the idea of taking a look at the menu to investigate a little more – but it will be impossible for us to try every single thing on the menu.

The same is true of life. Sometimes you have to decide and be content with your decision; otherwise, you will continue to be overwhelmed by possibilities and torn between the reality of what you have and the fantasy in your head that you think would be better. If we do not do that, we will always complain about things. When we overfocus on what is wrong is a direct result of the plans we feel pressured to create, with this restaurant menu paralysis. It’s challenging for us to be content in a world of endless choices and expectations.

My point is, because there are endless options and possibilities, the pressure is heavier for us.

I hope you take it slowly and savor every moment.


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