The Paradox of Choice-Why was it so hard to spend a free $800?


I went back-and-forth on whether or not to share this post; after all, one could assume “first-world problems” from reading the title. With that being said, I chose to share it anyway to exemplify the complexity of this anxiety disorder that I live with.

What is the paradox of choice?

In his book, The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz explains that decisions become more stressful when we have too many options; furthermore, being inundated with an abundance of choices can result in psychological stress for some people. This stress makes choosing all the more difficult, thus taking the joy out of the experience.

I experience the paradox of choice weekly, whether it’s a big or small purchase or a decision. This paradox reared its ugly head over the past two weeks as I began making preparations for the release of my new podcast.

I knew I’d need some basics like a microphone and headphones, but I had no clue that I was diving head-first into a rabbit hole of choices.

I knew that choosing headphones would be tough for me because I went through the paradox of choice last year before settling on getting AirPods for online counseling sessions after the pandemic forced me to work remotely.

It wasn’t until I began playing around with the podcasting software that I realized that the AirPods wouldn’t cut it for producing a clean-sounding podcast. The microphone is too far away from my mouth and it picks up outside noise; for example, a 14-month-old girl who loves to practice her Mariah Carey whistle tones.

I’ll spare you the details but let’s just say that I bought and returned over $1,000 worth of headphones over the past few weeks before finally finding the podcast setup that would work for me.

Sidenote: I’m probably banned from Best Buy now…

In the midst of all this decision-making, I learned this week that I was being awarded an $800 grant that I had applied for to help fund my new podcast project. While having a bundle of money that I’m obligated to spend is truly a blessing, I knew that I better make the right choices.

After ordering a pair of the new Airpods Max (yes, the $550 ones), I jumped down a rabbit hole of youtube reviews. While I’d be able to return them to Apple if I wasn’t satisfied, I still wanted to be certain of the choice. Youtube informed me that the 7 microphones on these headphones would still be sub-par for podcasting purposes and that they’d do nothing about the screeching infant who shares a wall with my home office. So yeah, I canceled my order with Apple the next day.

On Saturday, I made a whole day of finding the best podcast setup within the $800 budget, and here’s a video clip of me learning how to use everything.


While the paradox of choice continues to be a challenge for me, I did end up finding the perfect setup for my new mental health podcast which includes a stand-up mic, mixer, lots of cables, and noise-canceling headphones! Despite the anxiety that comes over me in waves, I am thankful that I was awarded the funds to make this project happen.

And before I go, you’ll be happy to know that I successfully recorded my second episode of the podcast last night on the topic of Black feminism. Be sure to subscribe so that you’re notified of the premier of Perfectly Imperfect: A Podcast on Mental Health for Folx of Color. The trailer is already available on most podcast platforms (still waiting on Apple…).

For more on Barry Schwartz’s book, The Paradox of Choice, check out my book review.

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