7 Things This Introvert Who Has Trouble Making Decisions Wish You Knew

I’ve always had trouble making decisions. Even when it comes to something as simple as what to eat for dinner, or which Netflix movie to watch, I somehow place more significance on the decision than I rationally know I should. My indecisive behavior is often viewed by friends and family as harmless or even humorous. But then it becomes annoying. I get a lot of eye rolls or frustrated sighs. Yet indecision has followed me–and often plagued me–since childhood, through adolescence, and into my adult life.

Oddly enough, my uncertainty often plagues me more when it comes to simple choices, like picking a restaurant. And while the “where to eat” dilemma is a common argument, particularly among co-habitating couples, I tend to view my own struggle to choose pizza or Pad Thai as a character flaw.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t fully understand the triviality of these decisions. I do. But it doesn’t matter. I continue to weigh each option with the same gravity someone might use when choosing a career path or a romantic partner.

Trouble with decision making is a telltale sign of the way the introverted brain works. So before you get too frustrated with your friend or partner’s waffling ways, consider why they’re waffling (though it can certainly get annoying the hungrier you get):

1. I’m always weighing potential complications and consequences. When you ask me a question, and I immediately get quiet, I’m not ignoring you or zoning out. I’m not even being truly indecisive. Instead, I’m weighing the pros and cons of each option to evaluate which choice seems best. You might think this is silly. But have a little patience. Or better yet, voice your opinion so I know where to direct my internal pondering.

2. I want everyone else’s input, too. About 70 percent of highly sensitive people (HSPs) are introverts. Sensitive introverts are highly attuned to the emotions of others, and concerned about how their decisions will affect those around them. Before making a decision, these introverts often want to weigh the benefits and drawbacks with regard not only to themselves, but also to anyone else who has a stake in the outcome.

3. I want to avoid conflict. Many introverts, especially sensitive ones, dislike confrontation and almost always opt for quiet compromise. As a result, an introvert’s indecisiveness is often not indecisiveness at all. Rather, it’s a mask for not wanting to make waves by voicing what might be an unpopular choice. This is not to say that introverts are followers by nature. In fact, research shows that introverts often make great leaders because they are more attuned to the needs of their employees and are more likely to logically weigh outcomes instead of acting impulsively. However, in social circles I’d often rather appease others than incite conflict, so I’m more likely to keep quiet about my opinion and let others voice their suggestions first.

4. I have anxiety about making the wrong decision. In the case of choosing sushi or salad, the consequences of making a so-called “wrong decision” are minor (mild food poisoning at worst). Yet as an introvert, I constantly overanalyze each minor outcome and get caught up in endless loops of overthinking.

For example, choosing sushi might mean going to the good sushi place, which might mean traveling farther than I want to travel that night, and paying extra for a cab. And do I really have an extra ten bucks to spend on a cab? I should probably be saving that extra ten bucks because my rent is due tomorrow and most of my credit cards are approaching the limit. Suddenly choosing sushi becomes a metaphor for my poor personal finance skills. Endless loops.

5. I like too many things. A favorite quote of mine comes from Jack Kerouac’s most famous work, On the Road, in which he says, “I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till I drop.” It’s a quote that often gave me solace, particularly when I was a recent college graduate with a degree in English and absolutely no idea what to do with the rest of my life.

Although Kerouac sadly never found solace, his and other literary works often serve as great sources of comfort for introverts, when we feel out of touch with conventional society’s directive to pursue a singular goal with ruthless ambition. When we “like too many things,” we often feel pulled in so many different directions that we’re unable to untangle ourselves from our conflicting desires.

6. I really don’t know what I want. And that’s okay! Sometimes I have no idea what I want, or I want everything all at once. Or, I’m so incredibly sick of choosing between the same options that I honestly don’t care anymore. A common misconception about introverts is that we crave routine. While that may be true in certain circumstances, many introverts, including myself, love to try new things, travel to new places, sample new restaurants, and meet new people. We’re not simply looking for the same old. In fact, we’re always looking for something better.

7. Sometimes I just want you to choose. When I feel overwhelmed, sometimes the only saving grace is to move to the passenger seat and let someone else take over for a little while. As an introvert, I’m more inclined to apologize for my indecision than to simply embrace it, so sometimes it helps if the people around me take control for a change and just let me relax.

Regardless of whether it’s choosing a new hairstyle or a new career path, similar anxieties may arise. And oftentimes, introverts just crave a little understanding from those around us, so we can truly embrace the benefits of our vacillating ways.

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    • Number 3 is so me. I hate conflict. I want what makes everyone happy and avoids drama even if the choice chosen isn’t one I really enjoy. I think one of the biggest discoveries for me as I learn more about my introverted self is realizing others aren’t motivated that way.

    • Milca says:

      Everything is me. Especially the taking the desicion for me and not make anymore mistakes.

    • Janice says:

      Hi Julie, I identify with your profile so much. Just e other day, I did a short self intro saying I prefer dogs/animals to humans. Never would I imagine someone saying it out loud too!

    • ewebrat says:

      Thank you for verbalizing these. It’s too hard, sometimes.

    • Someone says:

      I find my self in many of these, but my biggest problem was 5. I had too many thing to understand and learn when I was in 20 and later, and I start to losing my self, because if you are doing too many things then you are lost. But in the end I figure all out and learn how to manage all this problems about thinking and working with many directions.

    • I felt like I could have written this article myself. Everything was right on point. Thanks Julie for saying what I never knew how to say…or at least couldn’t decide how to say ?

    • Heather says:

      Thank you for posting this! My boyfriend gets annoyed with me, and calls me “Miss Indecisive”. This makes me feel a bit better about the way I am.

    • Heather says:

      Often I am indecisive because I truly don’t know what I want; OR I truly am not too fussed either way (easygoing and adaptive); OR both or all options are equally appealing (I can see pros and cons of each). They are the main reasons…

    • Ahmad says:

      I never thought that i would read an article that is saying exactly what i am thinking of.. i am taking a new job offer overseas and i am in the anexity phase.. you can imagine who an introvert feel about leaving his home and taking his family to a total new country.. i !

    • ANkit says:

      Amazing and very true picture of an introvert thought process… Thanks for writing

    • Jimbaux! says:

      “A common misconception about introverts is that we crave routine.”

      I wonder if this is because society generally conflates routine with stability.

      “I like too many things.”

      YES!!! I wonder if introverts feel so alienated by modernity due to modernity’s focus on specialization of labor, whereas many introverts are, by nature, generalists; this seems to jive with my theory that introversion developed during the thousands of years that human beings did subsistence farming. It was hard work that had some variety and was mostly done alone.

      I myself have struggled in life with the “be this one very specific thing” idea.

    • MaxCafe says:

      I can relate to this completely.