It's Okay to not Know 'What Comes Next'

I am an incredibly indecisive person. So much so, that when pressed for time in making a decision, I often resort to flipping a coin. I am so terrified of making a decision that I avoid putting myself in the position where I have to make one. But I haven’t always been this way. In fact, a younger me was known in part for her impulsivity but also for having big hopes and dreams for the future.

The current me is facing graduating from college amidst a global pandemic and has no idea what comes next. This uncertainty is almost as petrifying to me as actually having to decide what my next move is. I decided to delay grad school to figure out what I really want to earn my master’s degree in and also because I know whatever I end up studying will be community development based. At this point, I don’t see the value in remote learning (or any similar variation) for a degree of this caliber in this field.

I also decided to put off making any plans to protect my mental health. As someone who tends to self-destruct when it comes to endings, I just want to focus on graduating. I told myself I’ll figure everything else out later, and I should just enjoy my time left at UNH. I have spent the last few months trying to leave my mark on this campus, and I am so incredibly grateful to be supported by my parents in this decision.

I can see how this confuses the people who have known me for quite some time. Something about that over-achiever, (formerly) gifted kid energy I had in middle school led everyone to believe I’d always have the rest of my life mapped out. It feels very wrong to not know how to tell people what my plans for the future are; no week is complete without me calling my mom to reiterate why I am doing what I am doing. I think part of me knows the only person I’m still convincing this is the right move for me, is me.

I won’t lie, it is so incredibly challenging to be surrounded by people taking the next steps to make their dreams come true. What’s even worse is when you’re a senior in college, people you barely know think they have a right to grill you on your future. Everyone from my old boss, to my TA, to people in my classes are curious to see where I’ll end up--- and they usually aren’t satisfied to hear I’m just as curious as them. Most of these conversations end with folx telling me where they see more or what they think I should be doing.

I know people don’t mean any harm in this, but boy does it bother me. People can’t understand that not having a plan is my plan. I shouldn’t have to validate my decisions to other people and yet here I am writing an entire article about it. I’ve had such a hard time accepting the lack of clarity in my future, so I’ve been pretending the situation isn’t mine. I know exactly what I’d say to someone else going through this:

Timelines are social constructs. There is no right way or next step. You’re 21--- just enjoy the now. You don’t need to have the rest of your life planned out right now. Do the things that bring you joy, and everything will fall into place, it always does. You always end up exactly where you are supposed to be. Sure, things seem murky right now and you don’t know where this path leads, but you’re going to have a heck of a time finding out.