The other day I was having a conversation with a fellow college senior about the future when someone walked in and straight up said to us, what future? While it may sound like a silly little comment, it was something I could not get off my mind. As a senior, “future” is a word I hear pop up in almost every conversation I have. For some reason, we as a society put such a strong focus on the future and everyone wants to know what we are going to do next, what plans we have in place, and what we want our futures to look like. Personally, I don’t have an answer to any of those questions- but that is absolutely fine with me. While the future can be an exciting thing to think about, I try to never let myself get lost in what could be. Worrying about the “what ifs” has been something that has held me back my whole life. It took me a long time to realize that it is okay to not have a 5-year plan or have your future perfectly planned out. I used to always find solace in daydreaming about my future, until my present caught up to me. I had the harsh reality of realizing that I had wasted so much of my life thinking about things that may never happen. At the beginning of this year, my life took a 180 in a way I never saw coming. All my plans seemed to disappear into thin air and everything I thought I could count on was suddenly gone. At the time I thought it was the worst thing to ever happen to me, but as time went on I realized that it may have just been the best gift I could have ever asked for. When there’s nothing left to hold on to, there is absolutely nothing left to hold you back.
When I had no choice but to face my present I was finally able to let go of the idea of a perfect future. I no longer wanted to try to live anyone else’s life, and I truly wanted to learn more about who I was here and now. In a twisted way everything I seemingly lost made way for me to truly live life on my own terms. I had no one’s expectations to live up to which allowed me to start setting my own expectations for myself regardless of what anyone else may think. For me, the best part of letting go of your ideal future is never having to justify your decisions to take a different route. What I want in life may completely change from day to day or year to year, but giving myself the freedom to change my mind, and accepting that I don’t have to follow any set path (especially one I may force upon myself) is just about the most liberating feeling that I could imagine.
Being able to let go of what may happen in the future, also comes with letting go of what happened in the past. One of my favorite quotes is, “I use memories, but I will not allow memories to use me.” – Deepak Chopra This is something that hits deep with me. I have been very blessed to have had some incredible experiences with amazing people in my past but some those people and places are no longer a part of my present. And while I absolutely have my moments of being sad about what no longer is, I am now able to appreciate those remarkable memories for what they were instead of allowing them to hold me back from what is happening now.
In today’s society everything is so fast-paced and it can feel like your present is passing you by. But if you are like me, and want to stop worrying about what may happen next, ask yourself this. What is right in front of you that you are not seeing, because your focus is on something so far off in the distance? I have found that the best distraction for worrying about something that may or may not happen in the future, is to throw your energy and focus into what is literally right in front of you. As a soon to be college graduate I am proud to say that I have no idea what I am doing post-graduation, but I am so excited to roll with whatever comes my way. And the next time someone asks me what I have planned for the future, I have no problem telling them that I have no clue. For now, I could not tell you what I want to do in the years to come, but I do know the kind of person I want to be and that is enough for me.