The Fear of Not Having a Plan
From the day we are born, there is a plan in place for us. For a Type A girl like me, it’s heaven. You go to preschool at 3, and then you enter primary school at 5. From that point on, the next 13 years are all in the name of getting into a good college, or getting a job right out of school. You’re working towards something. You graduate from high school, and then you say goodbye to your parents as you move on to the next stage of your life.
Which brings me to the biggest panic attack of my life the first week of my junior year of college. I had heard about the “junior year panic” but pushed it aside as something that affected other people. Nevertheless, I was sitting on the porch of my apartment trying to fix my schedule for the semester when it hit me – what am I working towards? Sure, I am a public relations major, and I love it, but where do I go from here? Enter me panicking calling my mom, my dad, my cousin’s best friend’s sister or whoever else would listen to the ranting of a slightly unhinged 20-year-old. “What am I working towards? I have no idea what job I want or where I want to live – what do you think? What if I just dropped out now? I live in Rochester, NY – I can’t intern in New York City or anywhere cool so no one will hire me WHATDOIDO?” were some of the brilliantly worded questions I posed. I would say it took me about a week to calm down, but then my junior year panic turned into junior year realization.
I needed to embrace not having a plan.
College is the time to understand yourself. And growing up isn’t about having every single move mapped out from the time you are 5, but rather just taking the next right step for you. It is testing what works, and realizing what doesn’t, and moving from there. If you ask anyone in their twenties (or even older!) if 5 years ago they would have thought they would be where they are today, career or otherwise, they would probably laugh at you. There is absolutely no way to plan for life’s twists and turns, and if you can’t fight it, just embrace it.
Which is how I moved to London.
Ok fine, I was only there for four months studying abroad. But to me, that felt like the next right step. I needed to get out of the tundra of Syracuse University for a winter, and live in a city that has captivated me since I can remember. And you know what I found? This small town girl loved living in a city! Now I have tabs open every day of potential jobs in New York City that maybe I would want to have – and maybe I won’t. And guess what?
Do what makes you happy right now. It might change, but that’s OK. Follow your passion – see where it takes you. Honestly, I feel like I have learned my best life lessons, and about myself as a person, during a bad time – whether it be a horrible internship or a particularly excruciating course at uni.
You never know what is around the next turn.