Somehow in my mind, shopping for a new watch is equated with shopping for a husband. Allow me to explain this thought process through a journey to the center of my mind: I’ve always been a watch person – I feel naked without one, and I’ve worn several different timepieces throughout my adult years. And I tend to be more of a “quantity over quality” watch owner, preferring lower quality, trendier pieces to classic expensive timepieces that will last forever. A consequence of this habit is frequent replacing – straps break, batteries fail, faces tarnish, and in one case, this chain attached to the strap that I thought was really cool just plain fell off. My penchant for replaceable (read: cheap) watches means I’m always on the lookout for the next style I might want to wear. So whenever I’m shopping at a department store (or let’s be honest – Marshalls and/or TJ Maxx), I usually peruse the watch section so that when my current watch inevitably breaks, I’ll have a replacement in mind. One store in particular usually has a ton of good options for sale, and I never have trouble finding several that I like when I shop.
So anyway, a couple weeks ago, my watch battery died, and soon after, I realized that water droplets had somehow snuck under the glass that protected the face of my watch, rendering it unreadable. The situation wasn’t worth fixing, so I headed to my favorite store to find a replacement. But something different happened. Now that I actually had to pick one to buy and wear everyday on my wrist, I suddenly couldn’t find one that I liked! Just a few weeks prior, when I wasn’t seriously in the market for a watch, I saw a display of nice watches, any one of which would look nice and have the features I wanted. But now that I actually had to choose one to wear, all I saw were flaws. This one was fine, but I really wanted a leather wrap-around band and this wasn’t exactly what I pictured. And that one had a nice face, but the band was a rose-gold color that clashed with my other jewelry. This inner dialogue went on and on until I couldn’t find a single watch that met my expectations. So I left the store, defeated.
And then, standing there empty-handed in the mall parking lot, I had a mini-epiphany: This is exactly why I leave so many dates “empty handed.” The same psychological principle is at play here. When I look at a group of something (watches, people, whatever), I see a general sense of possibility – a pool of potential. But selecting one out of the group means leaving other (possibly better) options behind, or picking the one that will turn out to be a lemon, or deciding that one is best, only to have your tastes change shortly after selection. A watch is just an object, and especially for me, it’s not a permanent life fixture. So if I felt that way about my watch selection, it’s no wonder these thoughts and the related fear cause me to “leave the store” of dating without selecting an option.
So back to the story – there I was, watchless. I decided to go to a different store and check out the selection, and I found the same issue – lots of choice, none perfect. It was getting late (I think – I didn’t know what time it was) and I didn’t want to go home empty handed. So I picked the least objectionable option and called it a day. And you know what? I’m really happy with my reliable new watch. I now like the way it looks, and it runs great. A stylish coworker even complimented it.
So the next time I find myself surrounded by options of people, yet feeling disappointed and ready to leave, I hope I remember to glance at my watch – it will tell me that it’s time to change my thinking.