I never thought I would go to college. I thought would be this crazy, bohemian globetrotter who wrote in cafés around the world. I would wear rings on almost every polished finger and tap my pen against my journal.
I would watch the people around me and write what I thought their life stories would be. I would feel whole and satisfied.
Except, I have maybe four rings that don’t match; I don’t like any cool beverage from a café (aside from green tea), and I left out the casual fact that I had no idea how I would bank roll this never-ending trip around the world.
There was that, and the fact that my mother forced me to go to college before our agreed-upon year sabbatical was reached.
I sat in the office with her and an advisor and tried not to cry. All of the things I wanted, and all of the dreams on which I logged so many hours, were crumbling. I didn’t think I needed to further my education.
However, once I was in that situation, I changed my plan.
I would graduate by this time; I would find a job by that time, and I would find someone special by this time.
Yeah, that didn’t really work out, either.
Once I was in college, I realized I shouldn’t have been a lit major, but rather, a writing major. I then made the switch, which meant added time. I took another random semester off and took one light one to knock out two hard classes; this, again, added time.
My advisor told me I would be done by a certain date and then neglected to tell me I had to take certain courses in order to receive my diploma. I got upset and realized my new plan was also not going to work out.
It frustrated me. I thought I would be at a certain point by a certain time and it kept getting postponed or altered in some way. I would create a plan and it would fall apart because something else would get in the way. It made me wary of even thinking ahead because what else would happen?
There are plenty of areas of my life where I have little to no control, but this was something I could control. So, why did I feel so out of control?
Even though we think we have control over things like our own personal timelines, we don’t — not even close. There will always be something that will throw you for a loop.
Your interests may change; something could happen; you may lose your job; stress can be too much; you could decide to travel; you could get pregnant, or get in an accident. You never know what may happen, and it often involves us changing our plans.
There’s nothing wrong with that. No one will judge you for not sticking to your original plan. Two of my best friends attempted the usual college experience and it ended up not working for them. After taking breaks, they both ended up going to specialty schools with accelerated programs.
And, you know what? They found exactly where they wanted to be, and while they both felt they were too late to start their careers, they couldn’t be happier with where they are now.
Another one of my best friends is the opposite extreme. This friend feels as if her life isn’t where it should be and it creates added stress.
This friend feels as if she hasn’t lived her best life because she isn’t where she wants to be. It makes me sad because this person is incredibly smart, a college graduate and is of independent means, but thinks she isn’t successful yet.
The problem with depending on a plan is you convince yourself you aren’t where you should be, when in reality, you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. It might not be exactly where you want to be, but that’s okay.
Accept that you don’t have control over the movement of time, or at least half of what happens to you. If you can do this, you’ll understand everything that’s going to happen will happen. It’s not the timeline you should be concerned with, but rather, how you handle what life throws at you.
If you allow yourself to get worked up and let it deter you, you’ll never get ahead. If you accept life’s changes and occasional right hooks in stride, you’ll learn flexibility and how to take life as it comes. If you expect life to go exactly as you planned, you’ll find yourself very upset.
As clichéd as it sounds, life will always surprise you. Things change, people change and circumstances change. Change is a constant you can depend on, but not all change is bad. Change can be refreshing and rejuvenating.
You may discover something new about yourself or something you need to change to help you live your best life.
A timeline is an ideal we create in our minds to keep us focused. While it’s good to stay on track and work toward something, we also have to accept the diversions we all have to take at one point or another.
Don’t worry, guys; it’ll all work out.