Choices, do we actually make them?

By Wei Choong

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We make decisions every single day. From small ones like deciding what to order from Foodpanda, to big ones like whether or not it’s worth breaking the Movement Control Order (MCO) and risk arrest in order to buy that llaollao you were craving. Regardless, decision-making isn’t always that straightforward. 

These decisions are final working papers submitted by “lawmakers” that convene assemblies in our minds. Unsure of who these “lawmakers” are? Fret not. We’ll be exposing each and every one of their identities. So, are these “representatives of the mind” guilty of making terrible and uninformed decisions on our behalf?

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Lawmaker #1

Let me remind you of a better time, a time when we weren’t imprisoned in our homes to curb the spread of COVID-19. Imagine for a second, that you could freely dine at any restaurant you wanted. With your friends, maybe. “Wait, where should we eat? We should try that new salad place that serves great seafood.” As you salivate at the thought of food, he prepares his speech. Someone you know is allergic to vegetables, he claims. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the first lawmaker of the assembly. This person right here, tells everyone that your best friend Emily hates greens. With that in mind, you’d realise that friends hold a great sway in your decision-making process. Aside from their priorities, “whatever your friend said” or simply their opinions on how that nearby Japanese restaurant is terrible will inevitably cause you to avoid doing something without even trying it out first. All for the possibility of saving ourselves from potentially tasting bad food. Anyhow, it still isn’t a direct opinion from our own taste buds.


Lawmaker #2

How about slightly bigger decisions? Say, you’ve always wanted to get minifigures of the Avengers cast, but there was this voice constantly nagging in your head against such an imprudent way of spending your savings. It’s from none other than the second lawmaker, constantly echoing the advice from our parents or guardians. Believe it or not, she will rest at nothing to pass a decision as they always insisted on having much more wisdom than the rest. Now, basing solely on wisdom isn’t a good idea. Sometimes, the lawmaker tends to overlook other factors. You might have saved up really hard for the minifigures in the past year. The Avengers could mean something significant to you, be it something that changed your outlook on life or if it’s just a motivation to keep going. The value of these “plastic toys” as claimed by the lawmaker may not represent the bigger picture.


Lawmaker #3

Sneaking in that huge box of figurines at 6a.m. is hard work. Maybe you deserve some green tea. Sparse clouds punctuate the orange sky. A good day ahead, or so as you thought. The weather is just as unpredictable as our mood and emotions. Unsurprisingly, it can be ruined quite easily. It was time you started working on the essay that’s due next week. In a turn of events, you’ve got a minor stomach ache from the bad tea. Great. Then, you’ll find that this sneaky third lawmaker will take advantage of the situation and your current state of mind and convince everyone in the assembly to delay your assignment. Combined with the fact that there’s still a long time before the deadline, he advocates for strategic delaying of work. Alas, Procrastination is born. He will claim that your comfort is of utmost priority. You’d promise yourself never to do it again for the nth time after burning the midnight oil for countless projects, but Your Excellency decides otherwise.

Lawmaker #4

Procrastination brings your attention to some controversial content on YouTube. A speech, supposedly given by a world leader about how domesticated animals should pay for their own medical expenses. Another prominent religious figure made headlines, claiming that pet cats should “cover up” and be dressed appropriately. These wise words form the arguments of the fourth lawmaker in the assembly. Armed with credible sources, this lawmaker tries to stress the importance of these facts. The truth is, many highly respected figureheads manipulate their followers to their predetermined reality. Whether we choose to clothe our pets or send them for full medical check-ups at outrageous intervals is ours to decide. Statements from leaders may sound convincing, but we should draw a line and severely limit these thoughts from being a huge influence over our choices. You like walking your pets out in the street naked? Sure. It is all up to you.

Lawmaker #5 (A.K.A. The Leader) 

Tired of all the bickering that happens in your mind? Just like all legislative assemblies in the real world, there must be an assertive leader in charge. Let’s look into something less complicated. Say, you like the colour pink and/or aspire to become an archaeologist in the future. She tells you off as these things are not what society expects of you. Hence, you should fit in or risk consequences. She’s the most realistic lawmaker among all five, and is relatively rational when it comes to drafting working papers. However, the magnitude of devastation of the consequences depends on your attitude. Your interests in excavating fossils are hindered. She isn’t wrong when she warns you of not having a good salary as compared to being a professional full-time medical practitioner, but you’ll be foregoing your passion. Then again, glass ceilings are meant to be broken. As a famous American racer once said, “If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough”. Speed here will assist you in breaking any form of ceiling, not just glass ones.

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My fellow friends, we’ve finally discovered the identities of those messing with our lives. With this awareness at hand, don’t limit yourself from making decisions. After all, we mature and learn from bad decisions over time. Instead, with a firm mindset, become the speaker of the assembly and take control of the assembly making your decisions. Silence any lawmaker you find is out of line. Take charge. If things don’t work out, you could always replace a lawmaker with one that better suits your narrative in life.

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