Tackling an Uncertain Future

Months before the end of my senior year of college, I was certain that I would be living my last moments as an undergrad to the fullest. But in the blink of an eye, all my exciting plans fell apart. Colleges across the nation went virtual, and I kissed campus life goodbye. An unprecedented health crisis abruptly put an end to my college experience.

In a few days, I’ll graduate, and I don’t know what comes next. I’m stepping into a new chapter in my life, in a completely transformed world with an uncertain job market. Maybe you enjoy living in the now instead of thinking ahead. But if you’re anything like me, you prefer to have every aspect of your life planned out. You have carefully thought out your dream career, the perfect wedding, and endless vacations.

As much as I try to control my future, there’s no guarantee that life will play out the way I want it to. Even when we think we have it all figured out, life throws curveballs. We can’t prepare enough for health difficulties, job losses, or the end of relationships. 

Unforeseen changes may be unwanted or uncomfortable, but they are crucial components for personal growth. When you accept change, you welcome new life lessons and opportunities that may force you to reconsider your values and priorities. Without change, you stay stuck in the same mindset and habits. Even if you avoid negative outcomes and successfully micromanage your life course, you may discover that the dream life you envisioned is not what you wanted after all. There’s no way we can secure an ideal future because we don’t know what it can throw at us or if what we think we want will bring us real happiness.

Change and unexpected transitions are a reality of life. Whether or not we see them coming, no one can coast through life without experiencing major adjustments. When our expectations for the future don’t line up with reality, we set ourselves up for heartbreak and disappointment.

Instead of clinging to a particular path or version of the future, accept that change is inevitable and move on. Although you don’t have control over every future outcome, you have control over the way you choose to respond when life is unpredictable. It’s natural to want to hold on to familiar ground, but life is full of unanticipated changes. Give yourself the freedom to embrace new possibilities. Some events may be upsetting, but I have learned that worrying about circumstances I can’t control only adds to the pain. 

There's no telling where I’ll be a year from now. Graduating college in the middle of a global pandemic was not a scenario I planned for. My transition into adulthood has been thrust into a state of limbo, but I’m letting go of wishful thinking and appreciating the present moment. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have ambitions or that I want to live passively. It means that I want to cherish the journey instead of concentrating on the outcome. Rather than stress about the fantasy life I want to have, I can accept that I don’t have all the answers and that’s okay.

Photo of young brunette woman wearing a backpack and walking down a street alone shot from behind