Tossing the 5 Year Plan

Five years ago, I was a child thrown into the world post-high school. I was waving goodbye from my dorm with a tad too much excitement, eager to grab hold of my future. Finally, I could leave high school behind and pursue all my dreams.

Five years ago, I wanted to get out of my hometown. I wanted to be a Psychologist. My daydreams were full of events and ideas I believed would instantly build me into my ideal, adult self. I knew what I wanted my life to look like.

Five years ago, I had a plan.

Then life happened. The unexpected hit – just as I should have expected it would. I went to college, gripping tightly to these dreams I had created. As the years passed, my plans drifted, my grip loosened, and I delved into a world of unknowns. I changed my major, my friends shifted with the seasons. I was losing sight of the plan and what I wanted for myself as I flowed through time.

Five years ago, I would have never imagined myself back in my hometown following college. (Yet, I probably wouldn’t be surprised to find myself in a coffee shop)

It’s been a year now since I graduated college. And it’s been a year of this strange what-am-I-doing/what-is-my-future kind of thinking. If you’ve read any of my other blogs, you’ll be quick to realize it was a difficult year. Job searching is exhausting. Multiple jobs drain your energy pretty fast. Living with less than a handful of life direction and a whole lot of discouragement sucks.

My year was full of ups and downs, many of which stemmed from jobs oddly enough. I’d stand up tall with positivity: “Alright I have a vague idea of what I want/could do with my life.” Shortly thereafter I take a leap of: “I applied for this position I’d be perfect in and am nearly qualified for.” And then I trip and fall over the: “I haven’t heard about the position so they hate me and I’m going to be broke forever.”

I was asked in a job interview, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Shoot. Ask me anything but that! I’ve rehearsed about every other question I could possibly be asked minus this one.

I blanked, knowing when I look into my future, all I see is a version of that terrifying Macbook pinwheel that spins and spins forever when a webpage is trying to load.

“Loading” is my future.

So obviously, nothing was coming to mind I could share with this woman. Not one thing. Five years from now? I know how old I’ll be and that’s about it. I’m sure the company would have liked to hear a city or an exact career path or some life goal I’d like to conquer, I still couldn’t muster up anything close to the perfect answer.

“Honestly, I don’t know.”

And there blew my chances at that job.

Where would I like to be in five years? I don’t know – I stopped planning for it. It hasn’t exactly gotten me very far. I plan and life happens and my lists are left dragging behind me with weights of disappointment.

Five years ago I had dreams before reality hit.

Five years from now, I’d like to have dreams. I’d like to have some things together (note: in reality, let’s say I’d be happy to have 40% of things together). I’d like to be smarter and wiser with life’s scars transforming into strength and knowledge.

A lot has changed since I graduated high school five years ago. (another note: It wasn’t all bad like it may sound.) The bad is sometimes what sticks the most, unfortunately. The good though, are thankfully flavored in between, just at the right time. When I need it the most, the days of laughter and spontaneity, friendship and fun prevail, reminding me that the bad doesn’t last forever. Life won’t always be like the last searching year of my life.

Five years from now, Ms. Interviewer, I don’t know where I’ll be or what my job title is. I don’t know if I’ll be married or have children. The loading pinwheel might still be spinning. What I do know is that plans can only get you so far. This last year has allowed me to see the future will be a mystery whether I plan on it or not.

(And in my most professional voice) Thank you for your time.

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