Whether I like to admit it or not, I am very much the type of person to overthink. As an Honors business student with many responsibilities, I tend to rely heavily on set schedules, definitive answers, and clear outcomes. And if anything begins to come undone, my composure seems to slowly unravel as well. A plethora of what-ifs overshadows the detailed plans that were once finalized in my mind. Everything could go wrong, right?
Whether he likes to admit it or not, one of my closest friends is very much the type of person to oversimplify. As an Honors pre-med student with many responsibilities, he tends to go with the flow. And if anything begins to come undone, his composure stays fixed, slowly accepting what comes his way as is. Why worry when everything could still go right?
Like most things in life, each of the two angles has its own pros and cons that can be evaluated and then applied to our daily lives, whether that’s in our academic or social circles. As we have all experienced at one time or another, overthinking leads to uncertainty and doubt which can then cause anxiety. However, this deliberation is also what allows us to reflect and be proactive about anticipating things going wrong before they occur. On the other hand, oversimplifying can help us be present and find contentment wherever possible, but too much can easily lead to distortion and denial of reality. Finding the ideal balance between these mentalities can guide you into having an optimal, realistic attitude towards life.
For my overthinking self, it’s very easy to see things as only black or white and get stuck in one of the two. Either I did well on an exam, or I did horribly. Either I successfully mingled, or I failed to get out of my comfort zone. But for my oversimplifying friend, it’s just as natural to be comfortable and positive while lingering in the gray area. I could have done horribly on the exam, but maybe I did okay. I could have mingled even better, but I still made progress to overcome my shyness. All spectrums have two extremes, and we seem to cover both ends.
For 20 years, this habit of overthinking has embedded itself into my mind, essentially becoming a significant part of my personality. Yet, within just a few months of meeting different people, one person with one particular perspective started to disband the walls of the tunnel that blocked my vision. How? I have found that with friendship, duration does not matter as much as the connection itself. Instead of my overthinking clashing with his oversimplifications, we connected over finding a middle ground, one that combines both polar mindsets to deal with our respective realities. He taught me that it’s okay to be in the gray area, while I taught him that it’s equally important to make binary choices to progress forward. So, to all my fellow overthinkers, maybe it’s time to start oversimplifying—just a bit. And to all my oversimplifiers, maybe it’s time to overthink— only sometimes.