Five words pulled philosopher Rene Descartes out of a possible existential crisis. “I think therefore I am.”
What pulled him out pushes me.
I think way too much. Therefore, Am I?
While we are at it, what is “i”? Is it the “I” in Identity that defines my life and beliefs or is it the “i” in introspection, introversion, or insanity?
This is overthinking in action. My Overthinking. I’ll be the first to admit it can be very annoying. It can become an eternal existential spiral. It sounds deep and dopey but to everyone around, it brings up one question: “Is s/he okay?”
Overthinking has a mostly negative undertone to it. Because it seems to add an unnecessarily thick layer of complexity to life. Hence a oft-said vapid advice:
“Don’t think so much!”
This is the single piece of advice across spectrums ranging from picking a dress to picking a man/woman. The irony in telling someone not to think so much is that a statement like that needs absolutely no thinking at all — which only makes the case to overthink even stronger.
However, overthinking about picking a dress is different from sitting with your head in the clouds contemplating whether you should be going to a hoedown where everyone’s going be drunk and spouting inane logic – and then wondering why you are so judgmental – and coming to terms with the fact that people are having fun – and then further accepting the fact that it’s not fun for you – and then tilting your head side-ways and remaining like that for a few minutes before arriving at the same conclusion every single time:
you are going to die alone!
I fall somewhere in that thought zone and it leaves me at the receiving end of the don’t think so much platitude. I inform the concerned I need several hours to think about that statement.
Over-thinking makes my life difficult; sometimes downright miserable. But, it does something else too. It makes my life rife with beauty. It makes me pay attention to things. It makes me ask better questions. And (I think) it makes me less of a jackass.
Life was a whole lot easier when I sat there – slobbering smile – being okay with just about everything. Not to mention, being dumb as shit. I miss those ignorant-is-bliss days sometimes. But, I’ll never trade my over-thinking for that. This is not a justification as much as an attempt to underpin the fact that overthinking is not as bad or complex as it’s made out to be.
The thing with overthinking is that people will regularly dismiss you off as a phoney. Because over-thinking can get annoying for people around you. Ironically, it requires some overthinking to even realize that. And to – painfully – realize overthinking doesn’t make you superior to the human race and that you don’t need a planet of your own.
If you overthink, you must be wary of overloading your overthinking onto everyone. Because thinking is a deeply personal thing. It’s a level of insanity and you never know who shares your levels. If I were to pour out everything I think about on this blog, it would be a smorgasbord of vomit.
What you read here are traces of overthinking. If I had remained the idiot kid that I was for most of my life, sneering at people that overthink, I would be writing about some asshat that cut me off in traffic or about why I prefer Adele to Beyonce to Katy Perry.
Overthinking by itself is not bad. It’s the result of overthinking that makes all the difference. It can make you neurotic, condescending and hard on yourself, even if it’s making you intelligent and rad. This is a process in overthinking regardless. The result, however, could be new depths of annoyance or new depths of realization. When the realization comes, you will pause, start paying attention and begin to ask better questions.
You may not find all the answers, which will just lead to more questions ad-infinitum. Your mind will feel like a continuously dividing bacteria. It’s called evolution.
Overthinking helps plant a seed in people’s head about there being more ways to think about something. That’s how much change came about. But, change is never the end goal. It’s the means. The end is a more thoughtful life.
I overthink about my writing a lot. What do I even hope to accomplish with this blog? What am I after? Sure, I would love for more people to read. I dream about people telling me how I changed their life and how I should have all their money and large tracts of their land etc.,.
But, that’s not what I am after. At a shallow level, I may have thought that’s what all this is (I’ll still take the money and land).
I realized I wrote irrespective of how many people read. I realized what I was after was to become more thoughtful about a few things. I make the thoughts public because it helps me have more meaningful conversations when I find myself in a hoedown.
Overthinking doesn’t make you god’s unique snowflake. Most times, you realize you are not so deep and rad after all, and that people have had the exact same thoughts you have had for years. All of philosophy is basically just that. But that’s not the point. The point is to peel through the layers of complexity that belong to you. A lot of us never bother with that. And in the process, we don’t acknowledge how complex everyone else is.
We all love courage because it has the vibe of unstoppable and getting you to your biggest dreams to it. But courage can also make you do dumb shit and get you killed. Over-thinking is like that – like any other virtue. It can help you become aware, attentive and accepting, or it could make you angry, annoying and asinine. Chances are that you’ll find out what it’s making you only when you start thinking a little more than usual.
Cogito. Cogito. Cogito. Ergo, Sum.