Not Deciding Is Still Deciding, Only With Shittier Results

Published on 6/3/2024

I've been a vegetarian for a decade now, and one of my favourite things about it was the lack of options. Obviously, I also love not eating meat and sustainable impact etc etc, but a great side effect is that it reduces my number of choices. I'd go to a restaurant and have about three options, one of which I'd actually want. It's ideal for someone as indecisive as I am. It would be a case of pesto pasta, goat's cheese salad, or some kind of hummus stuffed wrap. Simple!

Only now, vegetarianism is becoming a lot more common and catered for, so I suddenly have a full page of choices. Which is great, I'm glad more people are trying this lifestyle and that it's more accessible. But now I have to actually make decisions...shit.

Following my ‘gut’

My technique is usually to pick the first thing I pause on. I do this in the nail salon when it comes to choosing a colour as well. I see blue, so I pick blue, and next thing I know I’m walking around with blue nails for a month — okay! I pretend it's about following my gut, but actually it's to get the hard part over with. I decide so I don’t have to have a decision looming over me, even one as small as picking a manicure.

Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, this doesn't work for harder decisions in life, which still leave me feeling stuck.

Do I quit my job to find something better? Do I move away from my friends and family? Do I want children one day? Do I want to call out my friend for their behaviour? The choices seem to pile on nowadays. Every day, we’re faced with decisions big and small. Like many others, I prefer to stick my head in the sand, ostrich style, and avoid the matter as long as I can.

Not deciding is deciding

Then one day, I heard that not deciding is still deciding. You have still made a decision by not confronting your friend, or not leaving your job. Avoiding a choice is still a choice. You're not avoiding that scary moment, you're choosing it by putting your head in the sand.

You don't leave your shitty relationship as it can be okay sometimes, well that's deciding to stay. You don't leave your job as you don't want the hassle of finding something new, that's deciding to stay. Do you see where I’m going with this? Every time you put off making a decision or feel overwhelmed by the thought of one, you’re actually making the decision in that moment.

When you frame it that way, we're making the same choices, only not ones we actually like very much. Indecisiveness is still deciding things, except they're not often the things you want. You end up just coasting, existing in a life you didn’t choose. You avoid decisions, and somewhere along the way, that easy route becomes your life.

Don’t be stagnant

I get it. I stayed in a relationship I had outgrown because I was scared to be alone, scared to walk away from what felt safe. But now I look back and see all the time and energy that went into fuelling that failing relationship, and I wish I had just ripped off the bandaid.

Last year, I left my job of five years, and it was terrifying. I was in a privileged position to be able to do that, but it went against everything I had been taught about security and ambition. I became a freelance writer, and I am so thankful for that every day. It’s sometimes harder to leave a job that isn’t ‘bad’, but just isn’t ‘right’ anymore.

We believe that decisions come with potential regret, but not making a decision does just as much. We can look back and regret not leaving, not changing, not growing. We can look back and wish we hadn’t been so stagnant. It feels better to regret things you’ve done than live with ‘what if’.

Maybe you are at the right job, maybe you are just going through a rough patch with your partner, maybe you like living in this city. That’s fine! That’s great, in fact. Just ensure that this is a decision rather than avoiding one. Decide to stay here, decide to work on things, decide to keep following this path. Make a decision and live with it, as we’re honestly lucky enough to have the time to live with our decisions. Don't worry about karma and recognise that shit will still happen in life.

Nail colours will come off in a few weeks, you can always return to the restaurant, and there is never shame in coming back home. Eventually, you need to make that choice, so get it over with and pretend it's about your gut. You’re making a decision anyway, so ensure it’s one you can look back on with pride.



Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.

Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.

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