Nov 16, 2016 | Freedom

I could not understand how people can deliberately abuse their own freedom. I guess that people are naturally afraid of decision making, which might explain why reducing choices to the minimum might soothe them a little bit, and give them some comfort of not being obliged to take a decision. Yesterday, I had a chat with a friend who is hesitating about leaving academia, and since she was offered a postdoc – from a person she just first met – she decided to just take it and to try one more time. And this is such a great recipe for a failure: to lock yourself together with an unknown person for years somewhere in some lab in continental part of the US… I also talked to a friend who just decided to buy an apartment in the city. Since apartments in the Netherlands are very hard to sell and you are not allowed to sell it under its official value regulated by the government, this is, again, such a great recipe for creating an attachment to something you do not want…

I remember the day when I was fourteen and attending a class in Polish literature. The teacher asked us once to list our most important values in life, and I ranked ‘freedom’ the highest. Unlike in all the other girls’ lists, love did not even get to the podium in my list. And if I had to do this list again, ‘happiness (caused by freedom)’ would most probably get to the top. And now I do everything I can to expand my area of influence. I learn some general data analysis so that I can join as many projects of choice as possible. I found an additional source of income so that I have more choice of what to do with my time. I am doing my best to keep in touch with as many people as possible in my field. I am starting to think about setting up a company. And, of course, I am becoming more and more proactive with figuring out projects. And the more I dive into the sea of options, the better I feel. It is a bit counterintuitive as, I believe, human brain is wired to be afraid of making choices, because every time you choose, you might make a wrong choice and regret. It is, in principle, a wry and detrimental type of loss aversion and I try to prune it completely from my mind.

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