Stanescu-Bellu: The Limbo

Eventually, we all find our path — but until then, we’re lost in the mire.

by Sofia Stanescu-Bellu | 4/6/17 12:30am

It was 4 a.m., and I was in the Digital Arts, Leadership and Innovation Lab when I again found myself in what I’ve dubbed “the limbo.” I had a 10A and a 2A, an application for an internship to submit at midnight, a presentation to put together, tasks to do for my job, a column to write, homework to catch up on and of course, sleep. The magnitude of the amount of work I had to do paralyzed me — instead of making a decision about which task I would tackle next (or not), I sat on the couch and gave in to a feeling of complete helplessness.

Due to my poor time-management skills, there simply were not enough hours in the day for me to finish everything that needed to be done, and trying to pick and choose among all my tasks was nearly impossible. I could go to sleep, but I wouldn’t have enough time to log the number of hours I wanted for my job. I could pull an all-nighter, but then I’d most likely fall asleep in my 10A and be a zombie for the rest of the day. I could work on my internship application, but it’s a competitive position, and I probably won’t get the job anyway. I could work on my presentation, but I’d rather be logging hours for my job and making money.

It has been estimated that adults make over 35,000 decisions a day. How do we choose? How do we decide what activities are worth pursuing and what we should dedicate our time to? There has to be some way to avoid this limbo so we don’t feel so constricted about the impact of every micro-decision we make.

Psychology Today says that this inability to make decisions stems from fear, pessimism, anxiety and sometimes depression, feelings that most college students are familiar with to some extent. Author John Maxwell even goes as far as to say that an inability to make decisions is the reason executives fail. Obviously, we somehow have to learn to be more decisive, but you can’t fix a problem without knowing its cause.

In my situation, I knew what the problem was: the bulk of the work I had to do was for my 10A, a class I wasn’t fond of but took because, in order to fulfill my definition of success, that class had to be on my transcript. This narrow point of view inhibited my willingness to dedicate time to other endeavors, which led me to where I was now: on the DALI Lab couch, at 4 a.m., unable to make a decision.

Simply put, my passions had changed. I entered into freshman year with a firm idea of what I wanted to do and how I wanted to get there. Somewhere along the line, my ideal outcome wasn’t so ideal anymore, and the path to get there became murky. I was, and am, torn between two roads. Should I take the road less traveled? I don’t know. A couple months ago, the decision would have been easy: do the work for the 10A because that’s a class that I need so I can one day have job X. Now, outside of the normal urge to do work because it was my duty, I felt no attachment to that dream, no connection to the path I was once so sure would define the rest of my life; the inability to make a decision was a manifestation of this detachment. This feeling scared me.

For those like me who are struggling with these decisions, their magnitude and the never-ending battle between what you want and what you need to do, take it step by step. One way to look at it is that no matter what decision you make, it won’t be “final.” There will always be more decisions on the horizon, and you will have time to change the outcome of a previous one. Trust your intuition and think about what you want the outcome to be. In the end, there really isn’t a bad decision per se: you gain something from each decision you make, and changing your perception of each decision’s relative importance will make the entire process easier.

As we go through life, there is no doubt that we will find the path we are supposed to be on. Our goals will clarify themselves, and these tough decisions will be less and less difficult to make, but the road to get there will be littered with these moments of limbo when we question all of our values and goals in life. It is alright for anyone like me, struggling with breaking away from old dreams and accepting new ones, to have these moments of indecisiveness. These moments of confusion and of feeling like you’re being torn in two directions show that you care and are invested in what you do. If your dreams didn’t matter, making these decisions would be easy.