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Source: Unknown


Zugzwang


“ALAS! O benevolent heavens, O mystery of darkness and thrill of time unto existence; as passersby in this great mortal earth; how thy relish in the living of now and the promise of tomorrow; shall all fortress of noble servitude be vanquished by want of the dark? Nay, for It has begun! It has begun! The darkness is conquered! For the servitude of Thought shall prevail!”


I have been thinking about what to write about for this project for, yes let’s see, 6 hours. And I now have a glorious list of subjects I could each spend hours ranting about. Agnosticism and my common sense view on religion, literature and my fighting defense for books, small talk and my woeful frustration with the inadequacy of cliches. I finally, finally have the chance to validate or falsify whatever I want, and I know at least one person will read it. And I even get a grade for it. I have the whole world of rant-worthy topics at my disposal, and I must fatefully choose just one to claim king. So… which do I choose?


Well, I have come to the conclusion that I am unable to pick just one. But since I must, the answer is quite clear. The very process of not being able to decide what to rant about actually provided me with a perfect solution.


Overthinking! I choose you!


Ask anyone I’ve met. Whether I’ve known them for five minutes, five days, or five years, they will all agree that I am a notorious overthinker, known for my inability to choose between truth or dare. (It’s a metaphor, everyone knows that dare is better.) But really, my whole life seems to revolve around the fact that I am pretty bad at deciding things.


At first, it was harmless. Chocolate or vanilla? The outcome would dictate whether or not I had a stain on my shirt. Then, the questions became a bit more consequential, but not too much. Gymnastics or figure skating? The outcome would dictate my weekly schedule. Now, the questions have become monumental, not always in their options, but in their implications. BioScience or Journalism? These options may not seem huge, but as I have become older, I am more aware of the ripple effect my decisions can have. I can’t help thinking about what a choice like that means for college. What do I want to major in? Which college should I go to? What kind of career do I see myself doing in the next ten years? The way these decisions unfold may all be traced back to the experience I had in a high school class. And as a teenager in this day and age, I must blame a lot of my overthinkingness on the pressure put on us by society to make these decisions so prematurely. We are expected to already have a major in mind as we sign up for high school classes. We are expected to have universities in mind, even though none of us have lived out of state without our families before. We are expected to one day have to ask if we can go to the bathroom, and the next day to be a functioning adult member of society living alone and supporting ourselves while also paying off $30,000 in student debt. So am I overthinking it? Yeah. But can you really blame me?


You see, because of decisions you make, EVERYTHING could have been ANYTHING else. And as I have grown up, I have taken this notion to heart, perhaps too much. Weighing options, debating pros and cons, arguing the “if’s,” “and’s,” or “but’s.” Sometimes, this is because all of the options are good. For example, I still have no clue what I want to major in in college because there are simply too many good options. One day I want to study medical science, then the next I want to study astrophysics. One day I want to study biology, the next, literature. I know I will be happy with a number of different outcomes, but that doesn’t alleviate the pressure of choosing the right one.


Summed up, I am an indecisive overthinker because I don’t trust myself. I am afraid of choosing the wrong thing, and getting the wrong outcome. When one is unable to decide because they are afraid of the outcome, the only way to leave open all possibilities is to simply not decide. The best move is to not move. In chess, it's called zugzwang. And it’s like this: “If you mix the mashed potatoes and sauce, you can't separate them later. It's forever. The smoke comes out of the cigarette, but it never goes back in. We cannot go back. That's why it's hard to choose. You have to make the right choice. And as long as you don't choose, everything remains possible.”


So long as I don’t choose, everything remains possible. There is comfort and power in that. But who wants to spend their life not choosing anything? Clearly, this is not realistic. If I am forced to make decisions, then I will make informed decisions. Thought-out, independent, insightful decisions. I would rather do my research and make my own choices than ignorantly rally behind the stupid people. God knows there are way too many Americans that don’t think for themselves. The small-talkers, the gossipers, the bandwagoners. I am always called out for thinking too much, when we should really be focused on those who don’t think enough. If there is one thing worse than overthinking, it is not thinking. Ignorance is stupidity, awareness is wisdom! Decisions made by those who are ignorant are decisions that cause chaos. (How many uninformed or misinformed Americans voted this year?)

So, I implore you. Think. THINK! Overthink, and think again! There is no shame in thinking! Indeed, the world needs more thinkers!