2020 was, without a doubt, the year that turned my life (and the rest of the world’s) upside down. Between the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires, tragic losses, and political instability, it truly felt like the world was falling apart. When the year started, I certainly never expected to be living back at home with my family halfway through the spring semester. Even then, I held onto hope that my summer would be normal and by June, I would be starting my highly anticipated internship. When that didn’t pan out, I started looking forward to a normal fall semester back in Boulder. We all know how that story goes… Needless to say, this year was anything but normal. By December, I was left with one seemingly obvious, but somehow still surprising, notion: that life is anything but certain.
I think everyone reaches a point in their lives where they are shown how quickly life can change. For a lot of us, that moment came this year, right in the middle of the “best four years” of our lives. Before this year, I had a pretty clear idea of what the next few months, or few years, of my life, would look like (or so I thought). The natural progression of a college sophomore dictated that I would complete a summer internship, return to college for a difficult but fun remaining two years, hopefully, study abroad somewhere in there, graduate, and then move on to a job, graduate school, etc. Well, it has become abundantly clear that when John Lennon said “life is what happens while you are busy making other plans”, he knew exactly what he was talking about.
The problem that arises when you are committed to a certain idea of your future is that when it doesn’t turn out how you envisioned, you are left feeling a little lost (or at least that is how I have felt these last few months). I know a lot of people in their college/post-college years are feeling this way too. It is understandable, considering our expectations for the future basically disappeared into thin air in a matter of weeks. A lot of us are left grieving the people we thought we would turn out to be, utterly unsure of what will come next. The silver lining to this abundance of uncertainty is that it is an opportunity to figure out who we really are. Personally, I am a big fan of blessings in disguise, and I think 2020 just might be one.
I have come to realize that it is impossible to plan your life according to how you think things should be because that is rarely how they will turn out. As a result, I am learning to remove the word “should” from my vocabulary. My best advice to anyone feeling lost right now is to simply follow what makes you happy, let go of expectations, and if you feel like you need a fresh start, now is the perfect time to do it. From now on, my goal is to embrace and expect the unexpected. If 2021 is anything like 2020, then the unexpected might very well be the most likely scenario...