Week 36: 
A week of indecision

Giorgia

indecision
I picture myself as very decisive person, especially on big-life choices; but there are a lot of little little decisions that have to be made every day that fill my mind over and over, and I would ask my inner self “shall I?” continuously during my days.
Shall I enter this Deli and buy a seltzer or just wait the next one? Shall I ask the waitress to turn the AC down or is it unpolite? Shall I order this
or that? 
I believe everyone experiences these tiny regular conflicts in their head, but - as always - counting and noting them down makes us realize how many they are!

On Monday I started and wrote down every little undecided inner thoughts I encountered “Should I close this window? Should I write is this way or the other way?…."

The more the week evolved I decided to set a filter level: I would record only the real indecisions, the ones that made me uncomfortable, and not the millions of inner questions I stumbled upon every minute.

A very particular week.
Despite my idea of myself as a decisive human being, turned out this week I wasn’t so determined. 

This week my grandfather passed away, he has been ill for a long time. I saw him the last time in February during a very quick visit to my family in Italy; and this week as his conditions went down hill, I seriously took into account to buy a last minute flight to say him a last goodbye.

But I didn’t, for multiple reasons.
During these days I felt so poor, miserable, useless and selfish that I really wish I decided to go.
It was very painful, I will never see him again, I could have seen him once more; and - most of all - he could have seen me once more.

So, I felt incredibly undecided whether to go or not before he passed away, and immensely ambivalent on how to feel after that, later in the week.
How do I feel about my family? About living so far away and knowing that I can’t be always there for emergencies? 
How do I feel about my loss, about the fact that I won’t see him again, can I really be relieved he’s not suffering anymore or am I just selfishly sad about how much I will miss him?

I found this week being the most intrusive, since when we started Dear Data, I was dealing with my life hesitancies and I had to focus on them very badly since I needed to record them.

I was really overwhelmed, but at the same time now I see my postcard as a sort of homage to his memory, and to my particular struggle in dealing with our distance and our missed goodbye.

I also talked to Stefanie about my situation during a call, and we shared the inner conflicts of being expats regarding these moments, I think we felt close.
 

My drawing
I drew my indecisions dividing them according to whether I came to term with them or not: did I solve it immediately? Did I postpone the decision? Was I still undecided at the end of the week?
Of course I differentiated my elements for their importance: what was the level of anxiety that the un-decisiveness triggered me? And I represented it through their size.
I assigned colors to the main reasons for being undecided and I added a visual “tale” to illustrate how long did it take to “decide”, if I decided.

So far, this is the postcard of mine I remember the most, it is the one that stands out in my mind when I think of my data-drawings, it is the one that I attach more memories to.

Scribbles!
I love Stefanie’s card, it’s very beautiful, and the way she represented her hesitations really give me the idea of “indecision”.
I love that she also added a symbol to indicate if she regretted her decisions later, it is very smart and adds a further level of thoughts to this pretty intense topic.

Our data as our source of memories
As I wrote already, Dear Data is not only an art project, a self investigative project, and a friendship project; it is also a diary, a source of very precise memories.
Every postcard is a homage to a moment (a week) of our lives we probably wouldn’t have given so much importance to, especially if nothing very relevant would happen.
I am very grateful to this project for getting me more attentive to the time that passes.

 
 

The Process: 

Stefanie

I am an indecisive person, and always worry and fret when I make the
wrong choice.

This indecisiveness latent in my personality is why, as a designer, I have chosen to mainly work with data as my design material: by systematically following a set of rules in order to present data visually, this process prevents moments of indecisions from happening: I just follow the design rules, and create the final piece without having to worry about having to make spontaneous aesthetic decisions. I like the comfort of knowing I am following a path where I don’t need to make very many choices as I go.

But of course this indecisiveness is found in every aspect of my life, not just design. To track these feelings, I first decided (amazingly, I made an ACTUAL decision) that selection, where one is weighing up two (or more) options and then selecting the most appropriate one is different than actual indecision. Indecision is more about the feelings of stress and worry associated with the selection process. It’s inherent that we will have to make choices in our lives, no question, but some people do it effortlessly, whereas other people (like me) stress, and fret, and worry about whether their decision is the right one, and it’s these moments of stress that I chose to collect.

It’s difficult to track moments of indecision because these feelings can be so subtle and second-nature, but I managed to capture a few. I captured standard moments of indecision, such as worrying about what to wear, about friendships, or about work.

However, there are two common indecision situations (and the resulting indecisive feelings) that often come up frequently in my life, and probably say something about me to Giorgia!

The first is ‘party indecision’, which is a form of indecision that is quite specific to London due to the early closing times of the London Underground. This indecision happens when at a house party or a club, generally on the other side of London from home. It generally involves lots of worry as the clock nears midnight, where I can’t decide whether to take it easy and just have a couple drinks, then get the last train home with no hassle, or stay out later and havea bit of a dance and a party, then miss the last train and plant to take an expensive cab home, counting and calculating whether or not there are enough people to split the cab fare, or whether you’ll be ponying up the £40 on your own. Or, do you decide to just sack off the whole decision-making process and just STAY OUT ALL NIGHT until the trains start running again in the morning? (this final decision happens less these days, I’ll admit)

The second is ‘food indecision’: I find it near impossible to order in a restaurant without getting quite stressed, because I’m worried about ordering the wrong thing and having ‘meal envy’ of my fellow diners. This is compounded by the fact that my husband seems to have a special knack of always ordering something amazing off the menu, so I spend most of my time trying to decide whether I should just order what he is having so I don’t regret my own choice, or whether I should just go with what I wanted in the first place. And of course, I always have regrets in regards to this type of decision, as evidenced by my postcard: only one moment of regret this week, and it was because I ordered the wrong thing in a restaurant.

While drawing this card, I tried to illustrate indecision with a scribbled line, and used a straight line to signify that a plan of action was decided. However, I kept my dataset quite simplistic, so it was a joy to receive Giorgia’s card, as it has so much data that I wouldn’t have thought of capturing.

I think this week is another one of my favourites because of how much information Giorgia was able to compress in such a small postcard. Also, I like this card because, through messaging each other, I knew that Giorgia was deciding whether to go home or not to see her grandfather. You can see that this was the biggest decision in her life this week, one that also affected the decisions of how she felt about herself, which is quite poignant and melancholy when you realise this, and it's a set of feelings I can empathise with: my grandfather passed away last year, and I had to make a similar decision to travel from the UK to the US to see him in hospice, and attend his funeral. These are the decisions that expats or people living away from their families have to make all the time, but it doesn't make them easier. I like this card because it’s honest and open in a very special way, one that will make this particular card a remembrance of a specific moment in time for Giorgia once we swap all of our cards back to each other at the end of the project.

 
 

The Process:

 Look! A double-decker bus in the background...(and some stuff I was taking to the charity shop, actually)

Look! A double-decker bus in the background...(and some stuff I was taking to the charity shop, actually)