You’re sitting in class; it’s the last one of the day and you’ve spent the first half of it sneaking glances at the phone you’re hiding underneath the desk.
Your eyes are darting up to make sure the professor hasn’t noticed.
You pretty much know what he’s saying, but regardless, you know you’ll learn it eventually.
But then, he does the unthinkable and sends you off with a group of classmates — people with whom you’ve barely locked eyes, let alone spoken to.
And now, you’re working on a project like it’s seventh grade and your eyes roll harder than they have all week.
You make the awkward introductions, try to stay on topic, outline the project and designate responsibilities. And then, you’re done. Awkward silence ensues until someone brings up the topic of graduation and what comes next.
You’ve never been more silent in your entire life.
But, it’s okay because your newfound “friends” appear to be more than eager to answer the question that’s been demanding an answer from you since, well, birth.
They talk about their plans to move out west, the internships they’ve accumulated and the job interviews they have lined up next month. Graduation is only a few months away, after all. (You’re welcome for that shiny reminder.)
They start talking about the Peace Corps and the horrible storms pummeling Ukraine and how they’ve applied to spend a few years teaching English in the Philippines.
They talk about the non-profit where they volunteer on the weekends, the environmental benefits of going vegan and the fundraisers they planned for businesses where they intern.
It’s all technical jargon you can’t keep up with and you sink further and further into your wobbly desk chair, wishing you had even half the ambition that these people around you seem to exude. Maybe if you stick around long enough, it’ll rub off.
You know it won’t, but you still pray like hell it will. Your head seems ready to fall from your shoulders due to the ferocity with which you nod to their words.
It’s moments like these when reality clicks into place that the not-so-far off future hangs over your head like big, green storm clouds that threaten bankruptcy.
All of a sudden, that ambition you thought you had — the kind that pushed you to apply for that internship last semester, the one that got you writing for your school magazine, the one that marched you into that club meeting and got you a seat at the head of the organization’s table — is gone.
And with it, so is any hope you harbored that you'd have a successful career. I mean, let’s face it: With people like Mr. Save the Amazon and Ms. Teach Third-World Children Math around, you’re pretty much screwed.
You should’ve spent these years learning how to count change because that’s where you’re headed. Thank you for trying.
We live in a world where ambition is everything. Our futures define us. Our goals and our passions dictate who we are at our very cores. I mean, it’s understandable why this can be a little terrifying, right?
I don’t know what I want for dinner half of the time, let alone where I plan to work in five years.
Honestly, I don’t know where I plan on working this summer, so a long-term, five-year plan is definitely not in the cards.
And yet, here I am, surrounded by people with starry eyes and résumés four pages long. I’m not quite sure how any boss has the time to read four pages worth of a résumé, but, hey, more power to ‘em.
And, I know I’m not alone; I can’t be. We all worry about where we’ll go next, what we'll do and how we plan to get there. And, most of the time, we just end up pushing those exhausting thoughts aside instead of actually confronting them head on.
Who has the time to worry about paying off loans and buying a car when Taylor Swift is putting out new cat videos practically every week? Not this girl.
But these worries are ultimately some of the silliest we have to deal with. I mean, we’ve made it this far, haven’t we? We’re working toward degrees, going to class and meeting new people. Our networks are expanding by the second.
Our lives are happening right around us, our futures are molding themselves and we don’t even realize it.
Before we know it, we’ll be graduating, moving from home and getting jobs (a second-choice job, probably, but it still beats the idea that we’ll be flipping pizzas with our parents or selling cars at our uncle’s dealership.)
We spend time worrying that our futures will fail instead of taking advantage of the time we have left, which we use to pretend to have it all together.
We’re all searching for that spark of inspiration — that tiniest flame of ambition. We think we need it to really be something. Someone.
But, after all this time, after all the effort we’ve already put into our futures, can’t we say that we already are?
So what if we don’t keep up with every current event? So what if we still blast Fall Out Boy late at night and dance around in our fuzzy pajamas? So what if we don’t have our next article pitch, our next manuscript outline or our finalized thesis?
At the end of the day, none of us will be half as unsuccessful as we think we will be.
Let's embrace the time we have left to drink too much cheap vodka and spend hours looking up mimosa recipes on Pinterest before we give up and plan the Pinterest wedding of our dreams instead.