We hear it all the time as an icebreaker, small talk or from someone who actually matters in our lives:
Where do you see yourself in five years? 10?
Why is this question acceptable to ask? Who actually ever has an answer?
Excuse you, older person, who clearly has his or her sh*t together, how dare you assume I have planned so far into the future. Maybe you had your life laid out since the day you graduated from college and it has gone exactly according to plan. But, I am not you.
When you ask me where I see myself in five or 10 years, you may as well be asking me to rub my crystal ball and read you the future. I don’t know.
I realize this a less than entertaining answer, but it's the truth. I could provide the laundry list of things I’m considering for my future, but they range from the breed of dog I want to the kind of car I want to my stance on marriage.
You’re interested in the career I want for myself? Great, here are the 14 or so possibilities I’m currently pondering.
When you ask me to identify and relay my internal visions for my future, it’s a lot of pressure. Maybe I have a detailed plan, down to the names and number of children I will have, to the logo of my future company. But, what if my plans change due to whatever unforeseen circumstances life will inevitably throw at me?
What if me telling you all of my grandiose plans jinxes it, and none of it actually happens? The chances of me actually doing exactly what I plan are slim to none because everything changes all the time. I've already changed my mind regarding about eight different topics, and it's only been a month since I started grad school.
I’m most certainly not doing what I thought I would be doing two years ago, when I finished undergrad. And, who says it's your business? I appreciate the thought, and I know you mean well, but sharing my life goals with an acquaintance isn't exactly my idea of a good time.
How about this: Instead of posing that overwhelming question, ask me things like, “What kind of career paths interest you?” or “Do you have ideas about where you might like to live?” At least those are smaller subjects that I’ll have an easier time processing.
Don’t get me wrong; I think about my future every single day, but that doesn’t mean I have any speck of exact confidence about where exactly I will be in five years. I mean, I barely know what I want to do next Saturday, let alone my entire life!
I'm sure, when you were my age, you were on the path to marriage and had a great job. That's really cool, but I'm not you and neither is the rest of my generation.
See, we do things differently. We voice our opinions everywhere; we understand that startups, not corporations, are the future, and we know there is plenty of time to discover what truly makes us happy. Passion drives us, not paychecks.
So, thank you for being interested in my future, truly. But, right now, I can't tell you where I see myself ending up, and I'm okay with that. The interest and effort are both greatly appreciated, but I can’t handle the pressure.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It