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Irresolution Every Year

September 6 , 2020
By Kidist Yidnekachew ( Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at )

Many of us are confused about education, jobs and partners. We are not even sure what we are going to have for lunch.

For Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, anxiety was the “dizziness of freedom,” the realisation that people truly have a choice to do many – not all, obviously - things that they want to. This applies even to consumer choices. The more cheap goods there are for people to choose from, the more anxious they become, as Barry Schwartz argued in his book, “The Paradox of Choice – Why More is Less.”

At times I feel like I have lost my way in this world - the map to my existence. Each road I take either leads to disaster or heaven on earth, but there is no in-between. These feelings have not been helped by the social effects of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which is forcing people to stay home, out of jobs and bored out of their minds.

Adding to this is the Ethiopian New Year, marking the end of one mini era and ushering in another with big questions as to what our resolutions are. I actually do not have any answers to what should be done under such circumstances but a living reminder that such irresolution, and the anxiety that arises out of it, are normal.

“The only way to go in this purposeless life is forward and pretend to enjoy the ride or, better yet, enjoy the ride,” a friend once said to me.

There are people who have figured it out or who seem to have to. These are the sorts of people that most feel bad for the likes of me.

How is it that we know what we do not want but not what we do want?

Many Millennials would share my frustration. We are told to go to school, get a job and eventually start a family. But not everyone is lucky or motivated enough to study. Some will find other ways of earning a living, opening their own business or moving overseas to try out their luck.

Many of us are still here, sandwiched between earning a living and finding our purposes. The latter is mostly conflated with the perfect job.

The two most common interview questions are actually quite profound: “Why do you want to work with us?” and “Where do you see yourself five to 10 years from now?”

“I want to work in your organisation because I can see myself buying so many things with the money you would pay me,” is what I always want to say. “Five years from now? I don’t plan that far ahead.”

But I do not give such answers and instead opt for what they want to hear and what would most likely get me the job. It is probably not the kind of attitude Franz Kafka would arguably approve of, a man that saw life as too short to let a minute go by without doing something meaningful and something we find pleasure in.

It is important to keep oneself busy but not for any work. It should be one that ignites the fire in us, makes us want to wake up every day and gives us purposes. Our jobs are not supposed to be a source of stress or keep us from living our lives to the fullest.

“Work is a system designed to keep the majority blindfolded from being enlightened and figuring out flaws in the system, thus keeping them enslaved to it,” a friend with an obvious Leftist bent once said to me.

He also thinks work is something that is meant to be carried out for the sole purpose of earning money. And one can never truly love their jobs.

I agree to some extent. But it is hard to deny that there are some – however far apart they may be - that do what they do out of love and sheer interest.  For all of us, there has to be a job or an occupation out there where we do not get stressed over, is not all-consuming, gives us freedom and the balance we seek in life - a job that provides us with purpose and makes us feel like we are contributing to society.

Indeed, we should not take away from the bravery of those slaving away in jobs they hate. They do it to put food on the table for their families, to send their children to school, to afford the medical bills of their loved ones and sacrifice their happiness or comfort for others. That takes massive discomfort and perseverance.

PUBLISHED ON Sep 06,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1062]

Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at

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