These are the things that I do not know:
1. I don’t know where I’m going to be in the next five to ten years.
Married? Kids? Alone on my couch with my five cats clawing at my feet while watching reruns of Parks and Recreation? Maybe. Who the eff knows. What I do know is that for the first time in my life, I prefer to live in the present moment. Over the past few years, I’ve learned that nothing is guaranteed. The perfect life that I dreamed of is not here, and even though it’s not too late, and that picture-perfect life may still be a distant dream, that’s just what it is. A dream. Why not make the present perfect in it’s own way? I’m tired of dreaming of the ideal life for myself because it detracts from where I am right now. Am I the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life? No, not really. But are your questions about the future distracting me from getting to that place? Yes, absolutely. So for once, please allow me to focus on the now.
2. I don’t know who I’m going to be with for the rest of my life.
And that’s okay. I never thought I would get to a place where it would be okay. But now, I’m just living one day at a time. I hate to admit that I’ve succumbed to the realities of tinder, but maybe it’s just practice for Mr./Mrs. Right. I don’t expect to find my true love there. But if I can get a free dinner out of it, why not? I’ve also learned that love is not a fairy tale. Sorry, Disney fans. Love is hard work. It is stressful and vulnerable and scary. But it’s worth it. And if it means waiting until some unforeseen future to truly feel love again, then I will wait.
3. I don’t know what “the next step” is.
Are you kidding me with this one? It’s barely been six months since I got into graduate school. I was just given this amazing new opportunity at work. I’m basically amazing, doing (semi) amazing things with my life right now, and you already want me to start thinking about what I’m going to do after this? Hold on and please refer to #1 – allow me to focus on the now. Even if I had time to start searching for jobs, thinking about the next step, it would only be detracting from the great things I am doing with my time now. Maybe I’ll be an Assistant Director of some fancy office, or maybe I’ll move to Italy and scoop gelato for the rest of my life. Or be a published author. I’d be happy with any of those things. Or none of those things, depending on a possible fourth path that is not in view at this time.
4. I don’t know (certain parts of) who I am.
To say “I don’t know who I am” is so five years ago. But I’d be lying if I said I felt completely aware of every aspect of myself and how I define myself as a person. This year alone, I’ve explored new identities that I never thought possible and have enjoyed things that completely challenge my previous standards of self. But why not? Isn’t this the time to explore those parts of who you are? Because despite all of the recent responsibilities in my life, I sometimes forget that I am still relatively young. I should be making mistakes, figuring out what I like or don’t like, and learning from everything and everyone. Sometimes, it’s hard not to know who you are, especially when you thought you had it all figured out. But it’s better than being stagnant. I’d rather be in search of the true me for years than to accept myself as someone I am less than pleased with just for the sake of comfort.
5. I don’t know everything.
This is something I already knew. Nobody knows everything (except maybe my mom). But what I didn’t realize is that there is SO MUCH that I still have to learn. About work, friends, love, life. Everything. I made a goal for myself this semester: I’m going to try one new fruit or vegetable every week. It’s a small thing, but it’s something. Today, I picked up a rutabaga. What the heck is a rutabaga? Even though I consider myself a decent chef for a twentysomething, there is still plenty more to learn. I think it’s important to find something that you want to learn more about and challenge yourself to get there. It will never be “everything,” but something is better than nothing.
These are the things that I do know:
1. It’s all going to be okay.
There is a power in not knowing. A dream of mine is to someday be in a local community musical. But as exciting as musical theater is, think about how boring life would be if everything was scripted like a show. No thank you. There is a power in not knowing because it gives us the opportunity to be flexible and adapt to life as it comes. We aren’t under the direct guidance of parents or college administrators anymore, yet we aren’t settled in careers with full families either. We’re in the middle. We don’t know it all. We don’t know exactly how life is going to turn out. And that’s okay.