Hello, my name is Majo Bostani. Throughout my years at SLA, I have realized that a lot of people, including myself overthink. I always thought that it was such a shame that it prevents wonderful ideas from coming to fruition. If they do end up coming to fruition, then they seem like they could have been executed better.
My goal for this essay is to show people that sometimes they can be their own hardest obstacle. It is human nature for people to think too much about what they are doing, and that overthought turns to be more counterproductive than just going with the flow. I’m really proud of my idea, as well as my rough scene of memory. I feel like I could have made my ideas a bit clearer, though.
“Today, we’re going to start our Advanced Essays about identity and belonging,” my teacher announced in front of my entire English class. “It must be 750 words, and talk about a real-world problem you face.” Immediately, my mind started racing.
“Write something unique about yourself and your identity,” my brain was instructing me. “Don’t make it about airplanes, because everybody is tired of that. Also, try to make it something unique that no one else will write about. Everybody writes about their culture, so maybe write about something else. Avoid all other cliches as well, Majo.”
At this point, I just want to exclaim “shut up,” and have only my brain hear it. Considering how smart a mind could be, I wish mine would stop giving me so many misleading instructions. I felt like I was already wasting so much time thinking about what to write about. After filtering through tens and hundreds of ideas, I finally had a topic that made sense. It is relatable, debatable, researchable, and thought-provoking. And the even better part about it is that nobody else is probably going to think about it. My topic for this paper is going to be people’s tendencies to overthink tasks.
A seemingly inevitable part of productivity is spending an excessive amount of time just thinking about what you are doing. Society sets exceptionally high expectations for humans, and the work they produce. This expectation of perfection is the reason why people overthink. It makes people believe that if something isn’t perfect, then they need to start over. This attitude snowballs into the person second-guessing and sets the person right back to square one. Frustration caused by this over complication often causes people to give up, and their ideas to never come to fruition.
French composer Claude Debussy has stated, “Extreme complication is contrary to art. Beauty must appeal to the senses, must provide us with immediate enjoyment, must impress us or insinuate itself into us without any effort on our part” (Debussy). This quote sums up the desire for perfection, and how society fuels that desire. Debussy defines perfect in this quote as something that could be effortlessly enjoyed. If people aren’t interested in something they see, then they likely won’t look into it more. People often strive for the unachievable standard of perfection just to garner interest in something.
Fast forward about one hundred years, and you will find a modern art project that confronts the problem of overthinking. Artist Maria Sandoja worked on a project titled, “100 Days of Overthinking.” In the project, she documented every single thought she contemplated for more than fifteen minutes, over a period of one hundred days. Her result is a web page full of drawings, with simple questions as captions. Some questions regarding Sandoja’s productivity are raised. However, other quotes such as “Am I too eager to please?, Am I a pushover?” (Sandoja) are written down. This project shows that overthinking goes beyond the workplace. People overthink their social lives just as much. If an interaction doesn’t go perfectly for an overthinker, then it gets to their head.
With the rise of social media and text messaging, people now devote more time than ever thinking about their social lives. As Brittany Hoffman from Medium puts it, “There is a lot of analysis to paralysis happening on social media” (Hoffman). Social media users think a lot about their social interactions online, as well as the quality of their content. If an overthinking social media user loses a follower, they need to know exactly why. If an overthinker receives an awkward period placement in a text, they start worrying that a friendship might be over. After all, it’s tedious when one misused word can affect a friendship permanently. The pursuit of social media and social life perfection makes people overthink their lives.
Overthinking is not a fun thing to go through, and is extremely frustrating at times. My advice as a fellow overthinker is to stop trying to make everything perfect. Perfection is not only subjective, but it is also unachievable. If you need to, you can step away from the task at hand for a couple of minutes. With the time, allow your brain to sidetrack. Think of something that makes you happy for a while, and then get back to your task. If you stop thinking about perfection and start thinking about the process, then you will start to stop overthinking.
"Claude Debussy Quotes." BrainyQuote.com. Xplore Inc, 2018. 9 March 2018. https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/claude_debussy_204277
Sandoja, Maria. “100 Days of Overthinking.” 100 Days of Overthinking, www.100daysofoverthinking.com/.
Hoffman, Brittany. “Stop Overthinking Your Social Media Content – The Mission – Medium.” Medium, The Mission, 11 Nov. 2016, medium.com/the-mission/stop-overthinking-your-social-media-content-6773965f4d39.