When I was young, I assumed all of the adults had everything figured out. I assumed there wasn’t a question on earth I could ask that they wouldn’t have the answer for. I even worried that I would be the only person in the world to grow up without possessing this remarkable ability.
Well, guess what? I’m 26 years old and I don’t have the answers. I am making it all up as I go along. To say that I am winging it would be an understatement, as it implies I’m going with the wind. I have no idea what I’m doing…and I’m okay with that.
I’ve spent my life imagining what it might look like in the future. When I was 5, I assumed I would live the same life that my parents had. When I was 15, I assumed I would head to New York City and become a successful writer, all while living in the types of New York apartments Meg Ryan has always afforded in her movies. Instead, I am 26 years old, perpetually single, still working on becoming a writer, and I just moved to a city where I know exactly one person.
Life’s funny about your plans, isn’t it? It doesn’t care, it’s going to throw out there whatever it feels like and leave you to figure out how to put it all back together. It’s sort of like having the metaphorical rug (let’s call it, stability or certainty) pulled out from underneath you on a continual basis. It’s a cycle of falling and getting back up. It is the worst, but when it’s good, it’s really good.
I admit, right now I’m not in the “really good” part but I’m on my way. I’m still reaching for more and hoping for things that may or may not be realistic. I stumble on a practically hourly basis and I get intensely lonely. All the while, though, I keep going. I keep trying to find the answers to my questions and decide what I should fight to have in my life. I am looking for happiness and it eludes me sometimes.
I don’t know where I’m going to be in 5 years, even though job applications regularly ask this question like it’s a simple task. I’ve always been wrong about what I might be headed for and I’m never completely prepared for the big reveal. I didn’t anticipate losing my grandmother when we did. I didn’t anticipate leaving graduate school after three years (and lots of student debt). I didn’t anticipate ever being able to actually leave the small town I’d spent my whole life in. I certainly never expected the terrible online dating experiences I’ve had over the last few years.
I embarrass myself regularly. I struggle with anxiety and depression and sometimes I have to fight to get myself out of bed. I don’t need any additional stress added to my (brilliant) quarter-life crisis so, please, don’t ask me what my plans for the future are.
I don’t know where I’m headed. I know I’d like to be headed in the general direction of up but, beyond that, I’m not sure. I’m in Seattle now but maybe I will be in New York City one day. Maybe I’ll be a successful writer or maybe I’ll find my calling as something completely different. Maybe I’ll find that man I’ve been waiting for, or maybe I’ll settle into an adventurous life on my own.
Life is a journey and it’s okay if you don’t know what’s next. You don’t have to plan your end point, it’ll be there on its own. Life makes its own plans and you learn how to ride it out, but why not make the choices you can and live the life you want? It’s okay to not know what you’re looking for. It’s even okay to cry about it (I do it a few times per month).
Life is waiting. Throw away the plan and enjoy it.