I think most of us had a blueprint of how we hoped our life will someday turn out. We plan from a young age the kind of car we’ll someday drive, how big our houses will be, how many children we’ll have — some of us even had names planned out. Perhaps this makes us ambitious, but I think it just makes us hopeful. We become so invested in a future that doesn’t exist yet, that we ignore all the things we could lose along the way.
We’re intrinsically superficial beings; in that we live for momentary satisfaction. We plan from a young age the things we assume will make us happy — without knowing if those things will even do that. We even go so far as committing years to a major we chose when we were in our mid-teens, just to find out in our twenties that it doesn’t exactly nourish our soul the way a passion should.
This is the painful truth that I have come to learn as I’m nearing twenty-four. I’m only a few credits away from graduating and now I’ve been greeted with an overwhelming tide of self-doubt and confusion. I followed my plan, so why do I feel so unsatisfied?
We become so fascinated and dependent on consistency and complacency that it creates a fear of change. Don’t get me wrong, change is terrifying. The unknown is terrifying. After all, isn’t that why we follow a blueprint? This fear of change engulfs us into an ocean of doubt, insecurity and anxiety. So we don’t plan for it. We don’t plan on changing our minds. We don’t plan on abandoning everything we planned for.
And with this scathing fear of change, we create an illusion that we’re completely in control of our lives.
I met a boy in my algebra class when I was seventeen. I remember him being the class clown, someone who I often looked forward to seeing in class because we always knew how to have a good time. He often got in trouble in class and didn’t really commit himself to his schoolwork, or so it seemed. We didn’t always like each other, there were times when we playfully argued. But I remember sharing another class the following year, only it was an honors English class. I noticed that his manners were different. He was very focused on graduation, his motorcycle and his girlfriend. He seemed different to me; something changed. After graduation it seemed like we all parted ways, the way we were always told we would.
A year later, he was killed in a car accident at the tender age of nineteen. I attended his memorial and sobbed under the same roof as everyone who’d ever cared about him — the same people who had nourished his soul, encouraged him to be a strong human being; the same people who could’ve never plan for something so devastating.
In a single moment, the lives of everyone in that room had changed.
And that’s the thing, isn’t it? We internalize this false notion of having complete control when in reality, everything you ever knew and loved, or thought you knew and loved, could be pulled right out from under you without warning. Sure, it’s absolutely terrifying to think about, and we spend our days hoping it never happens to us. But the painful truth is, there’s no way of ever knowing.
I wish I was told to prepare for change; to embrace it. I wish I was told that my mind will change a hundred times before I find out what it is that drives me, and that’s okay. I wish I was told that pain and loss aren’t just obstacles to overcome, but something that’s absolutely certain. I wish I was told that having absolute control of your life is a myth. It’s okay to be uncertain. It’s okay to be confused. It’s okay to fail. Submerge yourself in your fears. Befriend your failures, maybe you’ll learn something from them. The thing with having a blueprint is we tend to lose the wonder of life. We lose touch with the value of fulfilling our lives through joy and inevitable mishaps.
Perhaps we’re so fixated on who we should be or where we’re supposed to be that we forget that the real adventure is the path we’re already on, wherever that may be. There’s so much pressure to have everything figured out that we kick ourselves when we learn that for some of us, that never happens. And that’s okay.
We’re all on a journey of self-fulfillment, and I’ve heard that getting there is half the fun.