The Tyranny of Choice

[Trigger warning: sorry, it’s that EU Referendum thing again.]

This November just gone, with money given to me for my thirty-sixth birthday, I bought my first pair of Doctor Martens boots in quite some years. Metallic purple treated leather. Classic eight-eyelet, ankle-length style. By golly gosh, they’re comfortable, beautiful, and I love them.

I’d got rid of a previous pair of well-loved bottle green ones I’d had throughout my entire teenage years because they were leather, and in my early 20s I was going through an extreme, all-or-nothing vegan phase (obsessively thinking about something means never doing things by halves – veganism had plenty of rules for me to follow, and I needed that control). Leather was an animal product, therefore it was forbidden. Never mind I’d already owned the things for many years.I gave veganism up after five years of strict adherence, but it’s taken me over a decade to buy another pair of beloved Docs. Why now?

I certainly don’t yearn for my teenage years (I’m sure this blog will touch upon these experiences in due course – as a probable Aspie with oodles of memories of teenage angst, social anxiety and confusion, and so on, there’s plenty of material for me to draw upon and write about). Yes, DMs are fashionable right now, and that means there are more of them about. But that wasn’t it.

I guess, at the age of 36, as a parent and a woman with the figure of someone who’s gestated, given birth to and breastfed two children, and as a person with limited time to exercise and limited opportunity to just be myself, I’ve decided I’m sick of pandering to assumptions about how I should look or act.

I’ve also recently started wearing eyeliner again after years of no-makeup-except-on-special-occasions (you’ll never see me with full face makeup, though – the very thought of all that cloying, heavy, suffocating foundation covering my skin makes me shudder); I’m reverting back to the slightly more ‘alternative’ looks of my youth (hurrah for a 90s fashion revival!), albeit without the sweaty, scratchy, vintage polyesters shirts of yore (oh, the discomfort I suffered to look like an ‘individual’).

As for the Docs, I was yearning for an item of footwear that I’d always remembered as comfortable, durable, and very much me, transcending whatever fads or phases I might have been going through. And the way they fit, the pleasant surprise at how well they accommodate the orthotics I wear these days to correct my wayward biomechanics, the way they’ve creased along virtually identical ‘fault lines’ to my original pair, moulding themselves to my feet, and my gait – all of this made me seriously think I might just buy nothing but DM boots and shoes from now on, and forever more. Narrowing down the number of decisions I have to make – or at the very least making the decision-making process simpler – is something I find myself having to do more and more as time goes on.

Why is it I find decision-making so stressful? For me, it seems to be about information, and the very fact of there being too damned much of it. If I’m required to choose between two or more options, my brain is often overwhelmed by the need to consider and carefully appraise all the available information pertaining both to the pros and cons of each alternative.

I’m finding that my ability to manage the more challenging aspects of my autism has reduced considerably in recent years, and I think it’s simply down to having too much to think about, and minimal downtime, mentally, physically, or emotionally. Because of this, I really don’t want to have to spend unnecessary energy on choice.

And so we come back to that bloody referendum again. I said in my last post (the first for this blog) that I wouldn’t be dwelling on politics much on here.  But at a time when I was already overwhelmed – by the onslaught of stimuli both at work and at home, by too many decisions to make, by lack of sleep – I was somehow required to make a decision, like the rest of the UK electorate, on the future direction of our country. This necessitated agonising thought, analysis and internal mental debating (not to mention the overload of debate on social media) that left me exhausted. I, an educated, well-informed person with two postgraduate qualifications and an ability to think critically, did not feel qualified to make this decision. And so I was angry.

And I still am.

Angry at the energy it has cost me to weigh up the arguments for or against remaining in the EU (for what it’s worth, I voted to Remain, but I’m grown up enough to respect differences of opinion and see that these aren’t the be-all and end-all of a person).

Angry at the overload of blanket media coverage.

Angry at the energy I have spent on trying to construct meaningful, calm persuasive words on Facebook to encourage those on either side to continue to respect each other regardless.

And angry that we were ever even given the responsibility to make such a momentous decision.

All at a time when I am already overwhelmed.

Hey ho. At least my Docs are comfortable.


6 thoughts on “The Tyranny of Choice

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