There are 2 routes to my office with similar travel time from my house. This got me wondering if having more than 1 route option adds value to my life or does it create anxiety?
In “Status Anxiety” Alain de Botton has a chapter dedicated to explaining how adding more choices leads to poor mental health and an increase in anxiety.
There was a caste-based socio-political stratification in Indian society not that long ago. There is an argument to be made here, people living then had a better mental state than us.
In a class system based culture, if you are born in a soldier family, your destiny is to become a soldier. You do not think about becoming a poet or a farmer or a king. You had a list of rules and duties laid out for you and performing that was your Dharma.
Things are very different now.
Everything is based on meritocracy now.
You can be whatever you want, get whatever you want. All you have to do is work for it. Anyone, regardless of race or gender, has a lot more opportunities than previous decades.
If you graduate top of your class, you can access a pool of opportunities that were not possible before. If you invent something you can sell it in the marketplace and make good money off it.
In this world of meritocracy, even a Chai-wala can become a Prime Minister.
Every profession that you come across is a potential career option. Choosing from so many can leave you with decision paralysis and anxiety. And once you do decide to with an option, “Buyers Remorse” can creep in leading to self-doubt. What if this was not the right option for you? An even worse feeling is fear of missing out on the other option.
Don’t get me wrong, we’re a better culture without class system and great things have come as a result of a meritocracy. But there is some truth to the fact that having more option leads to a more anxious mental activity.