Monday, November 30, 2009

Say Yes

So I was working on various things on a Friday afternoon, and I wanted something brainless to have on the TV while I was working on them. For better or for worse, I ended up seeing bits and pieces of about four straight hours of Say Yes to the Dress in the Friday afternoon lineup on TLC. It was . . . informative. (It is, after all, The Learning Channel.)
The basic premise of the show is that there are all of these consultants that work in a ritzy wedding dress store, and they try to close sales with various brides who come in to find their dream dresses. Some people know exactly what they want, some people have no idea, some people don't think they can spend as much money as their dream dress costs, and some bring their 18 children to help them pick out the dress. (Oh TLC and their crazy crossovers.)
Besides learning that there are a whole lot of ugly wedding dresses out there and that there are people who spend more money on their wedding dress than I intend to spend on my entire wedding, I learned a few things that I think are actually pretty applicable to decision-making in every day life. Scoff if you will, but here's what I came up with.

Five Things I Learned About Decision-Making from Say Yes to the Dress

  1. It's really hard to make a decision that will make you happy when you're trying to please everyone. The most ridiculous drama on the show always comes when everyone has an opinion and the bride wants to please everyone, and I think the same is true in life. It just can't be done. Although your family and friends can have input in your decisions -- and it's often helpful input -- there comes a point in most decisions where it's down to you.
  2. You can't always get what you want. It's always the people who know exactly what they want who have a hard time being satisfied with what actually exists. If you go into a situation knowing exactly how you want it to pan out and then find out that the perfect choice doesn't exist in reality, it's much more difficult to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. (I learned this lesson the hard way, by trying to force my life into the shape I wanted. And then I realized it wasn't working and moved to Indiana.)
  3. It's easier if you have some idea about what you want. Some people on the show don't know what they want at all, and they end up being tugged around by their families or bridesmaids or consultants, but they say things like, "This just isn't me." Having some idea about what you want is important for making a good decision, even if you end up with something completely different. In real life (but not so much with wedding dresses), I'd say this goes back to knowing who you are at your core.
  4. Eventually, you have to commit to a decision. There's always going to be something else out there. Sometimes you just have to decide that amazing is going to be good enough and trust that you won't be disappointed that you didn't go with a different decision later. It's not settling -- it's just recognizing that you can't do or have everything. I always get a kick out of it when they compare choosing the dress to choosing the guy, but in a way it's the same principle. Eventually you just say, "This will make me happy. It may not be the only thing that could make me happy, but I can only have one, and I choose this one." If you don't ever get to that point, you end up naked or alone. :)
  5. Sometimes, the thing that seemed perfect when you made the decision doesn't fit later. Lots of people come back months later for a fitting, and they panic because the dress isn't what they remembered or it no longer fits because they lost or gained weight. That's when you have to make alterations or switch to a different one. Just because it was the right decision at the time doesn't always mean it's going to be your only decision. (Okay, this is generally not as true of wedding dresses and husbands, but you can apply it to other decisions. It's harder to trade in wedding dresses and husbands than apartments or majors.) When it doesn't fit anymore, you either adjust until you can make it work, or you move on. I sometimes get in a mindset that says, "This is what I'm doing and I will always be doing it because it was such a good decision when I made it." But then it gets stale and I can't stick with it anymore. I felt like I needed to live in Provo after I graduated, but after living there for another year, I didn't feel that way anymore. (And again, there was Indiana.)
I was amazed with how much this absurd little microcosm of reality TV revealed about the way I make decisions -- not to mention the way it revealed why some decisions are more successful than others. The people who were the happiest in the end were the people who were flexible, but who trusted themselves and knew when they had reached a decision they could love. I think we could all learn from that.


sarah said...

i love this post and especially love point #4. i laughed when i read it because i struggle with that all the time! i feel like i have to look at and try EVERYTHING before i can commit (a real problem in the dating/marriage world). i have to read the entire menu before i can order. i have to look at several stores before i can commit to a big purchase. and so on... i've read about this before; some people call it "the paralysis of choice." basically, since we're constantly bombarded with information and seemingly limitless choices, we have a hard time deciding what is actually important to us. i just thought it was cool that 1-i'm not the only person who feels this way. and 2-i've been shown once again that i am a product of my society. thank you, sociology.

Miki and Ed said...

Haha love t his post. #4 is truly the meat of it all...
You gotta commit.
I chose dress #2 i saw when dress#1 has no it wasn't really a choice. All I thought about is if i can dance with it :D and i could yay!
Off course if it was up to me i would wear 20 dresses in 1 day, i love clothes (: Awesome post.

Meg said...

Oh come on. You all just like #4 because I said you have to learn it or end up naked and alone. :)

Julie W said...

meg this is profound! way to make a lazy day of tv apply to life. I am a strong believer of following the path that is right for you every day....for you it is figuring out life, for me it is kids. when you have kids nothing ever works twice (discipline, food, coersion), so every decision has to be remade over and over every day! It is nice that we have the flexibility to constantly change to our growing needs.

Anonymous said...

I might print this out and hang it in my room.