Life Doesn’t Always Go According To Plan (And Maybe That’s The Beautiful Part)

Unsplash / Ian Dooley

When you close your eyes and look back, did you see yourself here? Did you imagine you’d have this job, these friends, this apartment? Did you picture yourself with the same lover, with a future person, with some sort of relationship that was messy, or absolutely perfect and secure?

Chances are, you saw your life a certain way. Maybe your dream was to start a business, to be surrounded by success. Maybe your dream was to have a family, to find that special person and settle down. Maybe your dream was somewhere in the mix of all that, possibly in both a relationship and beginning a strong career. Maybe your dream was not about work or relationships at all, but finally coming to terms with the person you are.

And maybe you had it all figured out: college, job, love, self-love. Maybe you thought through the way you wanted your days to go, how you wanted to build, over time, a life you were proud of. Maybe you mapped out the ideal age for having children, for organizing a wedding, for leaving the company you didn’t feel connected with.

Maybe you had all these plans—and the universe thought otherwise.

I’ve always loved order, preparation, making sense of the world around me. Having a plan was the best way for me to look forward. When I knew what I wanted, how to get it, and where to go, I could step forward with confidence. I wasn’t afraid.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, time and time again, is that God’s plan won’t always align with my plan, what the world wants for me might not always be the same as what I want for me, and sometimes the best-laid plans fall terribly short.

When I look back on my life, I never would have imagined being in this place, having these dreams, loving these people. Five years ago, I never thought I’d move across the country, have friends in different corners of the world and a boyfriend 2,500 miles away. When I imagined my future self, I didn’t think I’d be this passionate about writing, that I’d be building a career out of something I love, that I’d have so many wonderful things around me, but still feel so damn lost sometimes.

I think that the world puts so much focus on preparation. In school we’re fed the lies that if we don’t do exceedingly well, we won’t make waves. We’re pushed to be the best student, best athlete, best person—but sometimes we don’t know what to push for because we’re just not sure who we want to be.

We’re encouraged to pursue relationships, to find ‘the one,’ to never settle—so we’re always scrambling for the next best thing or person, trying so desperately to fill our lives with something that makes sense.

We spend so much time getting ready for this future, stressing over what hasn’t happened, and setting plans for what’s next that we forget to live in the moment. We forget to celebrate how far we’ve come. We forget that life isn’t always going to unfold how we want it to—but maybe that’s the most beautiful part.

I always thought my life would be ‘perfect’ if I just did all the things I wanted, if I had just a little bit more success, or money, or the ‘right’ person’s hand to hold. But that wasn’t true. (And none of those scenarios worked out, anyways).

Honestly, the best moments, and the moments I’ve grown the most haven’t been the ones I’ve prepared for. I spent hours upon hours upon hours searching for colleges, applying, visiting, questioning—and the school I ended up with wasn’t even one on my original list. I poured the entirety of my soul into a relationship only to discover he wasn’t truly the one. I got my heart broken, only to find myself in the healing process.

None of these moments were on the map; I hadn’t anticipated them coming.

And yet I became the person I am today because of them.

Life made its own plans for me—to fall, to break, to be confused, to lose people I loved, to face death, to question myself and my beliefs, to move across the country, to take a job I hated, to start completely over. And sure, I fought like hell against all that. Sure, I thought my world was completely crumbling apart a whole bunch of times.

But in those unknowns, I rebuilt.

In all those unplanned moments that I discovered (and learned to love) myself.

I have spent so much of my life trying to figure everything out (I still do this!) but the greatest lesson I’ve learned, and am still learning, is that I cannot control anything that happens to me.

But I can control how I grow from it.

I used to have a roadmap, a ‘timeline’ if you will. But I threw that damn thing away.

Sometimes the best moments in life are the ones you can’t anticipate—you just learn how to both hold on and let go, and allow yourself to experience them, feel them, celebrate them, bloom from them. And continue forward, welcoming what comes. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Marisa is a writer, poet, & editor. She is the author of Somewhere On A Highway, a poetry collection on self-discovery, growth, love, loss and the challenges of becoming.

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