NOT KNOWING IS HARD
Since I was a freshman in high school, I felt like I had to know exactly what I was going to do for the next ten years of my life. This is not an exaggeration at all, and for someone like me who has always just been involved in anything and everything, it was hard (and still is sometimes) to narrow down what I am doing and what I want to do in the future. Going into college this didn’t get any better. In fact, I felt more out of control about what direction I was going into. Why? Because everyone wanted to put me into some sort of box, based off of what I was good at…which was a lot of things (not to be conceited, that’s just how it was). It was also hard seeing my friends and acquaintances figure out what fields they wanted to work in and being seemingly confident in all the things they were doing. While I was running around doing five different extracurriculars that seemingly had no resemblance to one another.
It wasn’t until I studied abroad in Paris that I realized a very important thing…No one knows what they are doing. Yeah you may have an idea of what you may think is going on or what you may do, but truly you have no idea how it’s going to go. Now why did it take me this long to learn this lesson? Well it’s honestly because people cared way too much about my life and what I was doing with it. This isn’t a bad thing at all (So before y’all start shadin’ me, please chill)! I love that people are interested enough in my life, that they want to know what I’m doing, but I used to feel an extraordinary amount of pressure if they asked me a question and I answered in a way that eluded to me just not knowing. (People tend not to accept that very well, especially when your going to a private university that usually costs all the money like “You pay that much to have zero direction in your career after college?” why yes, yes I do).
Here’s an example. My senior year of high school, I was chillin’ in my first period economics class (which was such a joke) and we had a sub for the day. Now some friends and I were talking about the schools we wanted to go to, and the sub came over to talk with us. Well she asked me what schools I was applying to, and at the time I was applying to some pretty prestigious universities. She asked what I was going to major in, and when I said that I wasn’t sure yet, she proceeded to scoff at me (like I did something wrong) and walked away mid convo (Yeah freaking rude). So now you know why it took me so long to realize not knowing what’s going to happen next is okay.
In hindsight, this lady was rude af, but it still hurt to think that I wasn’t allowed to be unsure.
IT’S OKAY TO NOT KNOW
So after that crazy situation, I was very hesitant to show uncertainty in my decisions. I always faked like I was sure of everything, or that I had a plan, when in real life I was freaking out. But the thing is, I shouldn’t have been freaking out because everyone around me was in the same boat of confusion and uncertainty.
So why is it important to know that no one knows what they are doing? Well it’s important to know this because it will keep you from comparing yourself from others. We as people always look at someone else’s life, which we either admire or respect, and think that they just have it completely together. They seem to always know what their next step is. We begin to think that there is something wrong with our own lives, because we compare ourselves to them. Well those people who seem like they have it completely together are also trying to figure out what their next move is. So in knowing that, know that you are going at your own pace, and that it’s the right thing for YOU.
SO HOW DO I FEEL OKAY WITH THE UNKNOWN?
Take it easy on yourself: Stop being so hard on yourself. Trust me, you’re not doing yourself any favors by beating yourself up over the fact that you aren’t completely sure where your life is going. If anything you’re just hurting yourself even more.
Surround yourself with honesty: I think it’s crucial to surround yourself with people who are honest that they are growing and that sometimes they may not really know their direction. It’s important that as we support people we have discussions about being unsure or indecisive in our careers or personal development. We have to eliminate the stigma that you should have a 20-year plan that includes dates, timelines, and specific details.
Process of Elimination: As you grow it can be hard to pick a direction out of all the things you do like, so X out the things you don’t like. My mom told me that knowing the things you don’t want to do can be even more important than picking the things that you like.
Believe in your growth: We are all growing, and growth means that sometimes you’re a little confused and lost in what you may want to accomplish. But know that the pain is so worth it in the end. I know it can be hard growing up and finding your niche.
Even though I know more about what I want to do now, than I did a year ago, I still have uncertainty ahead of me. (Trust me! I’m a 20-something who’s about to graduate college, that’s like the definition of uncertainty). And I for sure know that people have an obsession with knowing what your doing 5, 10, 15 years from now, and you probs don’t know what you’re going to eat for dinner that night. So forget them! Tell them that you don’t know and that you’ll let them know when you figure it out! Because in the end, it’s none of their gosh damn business, and you are allowed to not know. It’s all a part of growing up.
Check out the line up for Growing Pains here!