Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
October 4, 2023

Reflecting on my indecisiveness

By SHELBY YORK | November 15, 2021


I’m an indecisive person. Deciding where to eat for lunch is as difficult a choice for me to make as deciding my majors was. I go over the options relentlessly until I feel (mostly) confident I’m making the right choice. I find it nearly impossible to act spontaneously.

When spring courses were posted recently, I wasted no time in making a list sorted by department of every class that jumped out to me. That was the fun part. Now, even after meeting with my faculty advisors, I’m still left staring at my list of courses, unsure what I really want to take. I know what my interests are, but narrowing them down into a neat list of five courses is, as always, proving a difficult task.

This has led me to think about whether I regret any of the choices I’ve made, not only in regard to courses or my choice of college but all of them: the friend group I had in high school, the hobbies I’ve acquired, the collections I’ve started, the books I’ve read. Surprisingly, I think the answer is “no.”

I say “surprisingly” because, given how much thought I need to put into my decisions, one would think that I would reflect on at least one and realize that I should’ve contemplated it just a little longer or taken some other obscure factor into account, but I can’t say that’s the case.

Even the decisions I regard as slightly worse (like signing up for Calculus I my freshman fall and then not dropping it), I can’t say I truly regret. Calculus was a miserable experience, but I passed and got some of the distribution credits I needed, so I regard that experience as having been a necessary evil.

Going into Hopkins, I had no idea what kind of career I wanted and only a faint idea of what I’d be interested in studying. I picked up Writing Seminars immediately, creative writing being one of the only subjects I knew for certain I loved. 

Picking out other things to study was more challenging, especially once I had to take into account my four-year plan. It still is; I changed my schedule multiple times over the course of this past summer because I kept thinking and overthinking about my options until I finally settled on a much different schedule than what I had started with.

I officially declared Classics only about a month ago, and it was notable because it was the most spontaneous decision I had made in a long time. It was spontaneous, relatively speaking, of course — I had given it some thought, and I had given the question of whether or not to double-major in the first place much more thought — but the moment I decided wasn’t after I had made a list of pros and cons.

I was in class, and we were going around the room re-introducing ourselves. As it became my turn, I introduced myself as both a Writing Seminars and Classics major, deciding that I was going to declare it officially as soon I got home from that class. It felt very spur-of-the-moment to me because I had decided previously that I wasn’t going to add a second major until at least spring if I did it at all. But I had realized how much I was enjoying my classes in the department and decided for once to just do something without stewing on it for weeks or months.

It’s only been a month, so I suppose I can’t really say if that particular decision will carry any regret, but I don’t believe it will. Revising my four-year plan and thinking about how my academic interests have grown and changed has been something of an exciting process. Even if I do change my course of study at all, there’s nothing wrong with changing my mind.

To be clear, while indecisiveness is not a blessing, I don’t consider it much of a curse either. I’ve picked up great organizational skills because of it, and I generally feel prepared for what’s to come after I’ve made my decision. 

That said, I’m learning that there’s nothing wrong with not adhering to a decision made in the past or occasionally going with my heart and making one immediately. I don’t want to box myself in or force myself to stick with a decision just because I deliberated on it for months. 

Regretful isn’t a word that I want to have to use to describe myself one day. Making decisions is hard, and I don’t think I’ll ever find it much easier, but I can at least accept that I don’t have all the answers and it’s okay to just guess sometimes. Whatever happens afterward will be worth it. 

Shelby York is a sophomore from Owenton, Ky. majoring in Writing Seminars and Classics. She is a Copy Reader for The News-Letter.

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