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When you’re 17 years old, you think you hold the world in the palm of your hands. You think you can manifest anything, as long as you want it badly enough. You have the perfect boyfriend and there’s not one doubt in your mind that you’re going to get married and live happily ever after. You apply to all the best colleges that everybody tells you you’ll have no problem getting into because you’re a smart, well-rounded girl and why would they deny you. And of course, being the smart girl that you are, you can proudly say you know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life – looking down on those who are so not put together that at the wise, old age of 17 still have the audacity to say, “I don’t know”.


Fast forward.


Your perfect boyfriend shattered your perfect heart into a million little imperfect pieces (it’s ok, you’re over it now). Those schools that everybody – and I mean everybody; teachers, advisors, alumni, interviewers – told you there’s no way you won’t get in… Denied, denied, denied, denied, denied (well, technically that last one was a waitlist, but that didn’t do anything to help a severely bruised ego). And that 17-year-old girl who knew exactly what she wanted to do? She switched her major twice, the first time being less than a year after starting school.


(In case you haven’t put this together by now, I’m talking about myself)


What high school me didn’t know though, is that you can’t plan your happiness. I thought that having a plan meant that I would have control over my life, and if I had control then nothing could go wrong. I didn’t realize that it’s those moments that go wrong that shape you as a person and make you stronger and better than before. It wouldn’t be real life if things always went as planned, it would just be a really boring story written by an author with no creativity.


I’ve come to realize that it’s the things that you don’t plan for that bring you the greatest happiness in life. It’s the people you meet by chance that become some of the most important people in your life. It’s the days where you wake up in the morning and realize that your life is no longer going in the direction that makes a smile come to your face, so you do something about it. It’s the excitement of not knowing where your life is going to take you, but you can’t wait to find out.


I, more than anybody, understand the temptation to try to schedule and structure your life, but the most important thing I’ve learned since high school is that you really have no control over every detail, so it’s better to just accept that and be excited about the mystery. I’m 20 years old now and my goals no longer resemble those of my high school self. I’m comfortable in my singleness, I go to a university that I had no plans on attending but where I found my home and my family, and I’m in a major now where I’m actually kind of excited about graduating purely because I’m excited about all the different job opportunities I’ll have. I’m also graduating a semester early so I can travel the world, something I would never have expected myself to do.


I’m a firm believer in everything happens for a reason, so long story short just let your happiness guide you rather than plans you made when you were younger.

Happy on the beach with some sushi
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