It’s probably the scariest time of year or of your life. It’s getting warmer and everyone is making big plans and nothing is ever going to be the same and neither are we. Senior spring semester is a nervous stomach ache and you can’t think of any good reason why. Nothing so bad is happening, a lot of good things are happening too, and sometimes you pay no attention to it and have a lot of fun. Other times, you’re in the back of an Uber on the way to the bar. You’re with all your best friends and all your homework is done and get this unreal jolt of sober reality-like you’re forgetting something important, like you must have had an assignment due at 2am on a saturday morning and your whole life might crumble if you don’t do it right now (you had no assignment due at all, you had anxiety and the verge of an existential crisis). Some other times, you finish a day of classes and it’s the first 60 degree day of the year. You had a great day and got a lot done and feel this sudden rush of guilt for driving around smiling with the windows down and TFB blasting, because you don’t have a tangible plan for after graduation.
It’s good to have plans. I am a planner and have been ever since I was a kid. I write to-do lists, daily schedules, edit my agenda and calendar daily. I set alarms and reminders and make mental notes. I am never late, and I always have a plan. Even for the worst case scenarios. I play this game with myself sometimes, when I’m stressed about a certain situation. Many people have told me that I shouldn’t think about all the terrible things that could happen because they most likely won’t ever happen and it’s a huge waste of energy blah blah blah (it is). But I play this game where I think about the worse possible outcome of a situation that could realistically occur, even if there is the slimmest chance…and then I make a plan for it. That eases my anxiety more than ignoring all those potential realities that will never happen, because I find a way to make all of them ok. I make myself ready to take them on and that makes them seem less scary. They never ever (and I mean ever) happen, but if god forbid they did, I have all these plans.
Well, today, and yesterday, and the day before; Last week, last month, last summer, probably every single day of senior year… I am asked what my “plan” is. I’m asked what I’m doing after I graduate or with my life or even just with the upcoming summer. And for all this time I have had to think about it and make these big tangible plans, I do not have one. Sometimes I make something up, or make a vague statement about getting a job in my field, but realistically (and if you ask me for any details about said plan, you will know) I have absolutely no clue what will happen with my life starting in just a few short months from now.
Today I think this hit me especially hard because more than half of the seniors in my major found out about their dietetic internship results. I’m so happy for everyone, honestly and truly, and just as happy for the people who committed to grad schools, and happy for my friends with big serious adult jobs lined up. I was beating myself up today about not having any of those things set in stone myself. I was kicking myself for not sticking with the dietetic option and applying for the internship; Partly because I’m sure I could have done it and mostly because then, today on April 3 2017, I would have this big concrete plan for the next 2 years (I have since realized that is a silly reason to do absolutely anything). I convinced myself I was a mess, irresponsible, and less motivated than everyone else. But then I realized how unappealing grad school and a dietetic internship sounds to me personally. I realized that if I applied to an internship or grad school, and moved to wherever that would take me, and studied something I don’t feel passionate about, or worked in a lab or a hospital…I realized that I would feel like a fake beeotch and hate my life and that I would actually be kicking myself a lot harder than I was all day today.
Today I took a big picture look at my life. I took everything I heard and felt all day and realized it’s ok that I am not on the same path as most of the people in my major, maybe even better. I decided it’s completely nonsensical to do anything because you “feel like you should” or “most other people are” or even just because it’s nice and tidy, safe, and comfortable, to always have a plan (my personal favorite), especially if you don’t feel a genuine passion for said thing. I’m not good at faking things, or at doing anything halfway. I can’t pretend that either of those life paths would have made any sense for me, made me happy, or even necessarily made me successful. I decided that it is ok to not waste my precious time/money/energy and any portion of my life, on anything I can’t pursue with genuine passion. I decided I’m good at a lot of things and love even more things. I realized I am passionate about so much, that it would be a huge waste of the one life I have to focus on anything else, or to push those things to the back of my mind to do what I am expected to do. I and you (and pretty much everyone ) are probably a lot more likely to be happy and successful doing something you care about and have an inherent drive to pursue.
Even though the more terrifying option right now might be to have no plan, it’s the more exciting option too. Again, it’s amazing that such a large amount of people have plans right now, as short or long term as they may be. It’s great and responsible and respectable to know what you’re doing, and today, somewhere between a panic, confusion, and existential crisis, I found out it’s also great and responsible and respectable to not have a clue what lies ahead. Because that is genuine, honest, real, and human, and because that is life sometimes, usually right before the best parts (you never see the best parts coming). I have less of a clue about what I’m doing right now (career wise anyways), as a graduating senior, than I had as an incoming freshman. But I do have a clue what I do not want to do, the type of person I’ll never be, and what I fundamentally disagree with. I have a clue about what I love, what’s important in life, the type of person I would like to be, and what I have genuine passionate and motivation for, which is more than a lot of people can say.
It’s great that so many people woke up today with big plans but it’s also great that I didn’t. It’s cool that I could do absolutely anything, that it’s all up in the air. It’s amazing that all these people have an idea of where they will be a year for now and it’s amazing that I could be anywhere, doing anything on earth.
So yes, I do still have a goal to get a job ASAP (because I at least know being homeless and poor isn’t part of the plan), but I do not have a concrete plan as to where, what, or how that will be. I’m still a little stressed and scared too, but I am more passionate than stressed and more excited for the surprises than I am scared of the worst case scenarios (that I will try my best not to think up this time). So there you all have it, my big exciting post grad plans. So you will do this, they will do that, and I will do anything.