A few weeks ago I was strolling through London Gatwick waiting for my plane to board. I had £25 of cash left over from my trip that was going to go to waste, so I hustled over to the British equivalent of Hudson News to see what I could find. The £25 was enough to upgrade me from my usual pop culture/trash news/wedding planning magazine to the books section. Two covers in particular caught my eye as the gate agent announced my boarding group over the loud speaker. Without a second thought I ran to the register, my 2-for-1 bundle of Get Your Sh*t Together and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck tucked underneath my arm. Did the British lady ringing me up think I was a certified American psycho? Absolutely. But to be fair, they were on the "worldwide bestsellers" shelf.
Before all you lovely, caring people flood my DM's with messages of concern and support predicated on my peculiar literary taste, I want to let you know that everything is just fine. To be honest, that thirty-second checkout encounter was one of the funniest and most authentic moments of my post-grad life because I was finally able to admit - to both myself and to the world - two very critical pieces of information:
1. Yes, I am figuring my sh*t out.
2. No, I do not have all the answers.
I'm a notorious planner. Knowing what's next is a huge source of comfort for me, and having something to which I can look forward helps me lock in my focus and get to the finish line. Most of my friends and family turn to me for help in the planning department because, well, I'm really good at it. Coordinating large groups? Dinner recommendations for date night? Need an itinerary for an adventurous weekend getaway? I'm your girl. Having a game plan = everything to me.
It took me a while to trace the origin of my planner roots, but I ultimately came to realize that in everything I've ever done, I've been programmed to look one step ahead. When I dusted the other 12-18 year olds in my village's 4th of July races, coaches asked me what sports I would play in high school. Before I could get grips on who I was in high school, I had to determine where I wanted to go to college. I hadn't even stepped foot in a college classroom, and my advisors were already hounding me to select my major for the next four years. And as I naïvely signed away my academic destiny, everyone began to ask questions about how I was going to spend the rest of my life. French major? Interesting... what do you plan to do with that? Do you want to be a French teacher? Do you get to eat croissants in class? Does this mean you're moving to France? OKAY HOLD THE PHONE PEOPLE. I HAVEN'T EVEN HAD A SIP OF UNDERAGE NATTY LIGHT YET.
We're constantly told that if we stay one step ahead of the game, we'll find success. But what happens when you don't know the next steps anymore? Where do you turn when you can't nail down a plan?
These questions bring me to my life right now: full of uncertainty. The thought of not knowing what's next plagues my mind and body like a physical illness. Most days, it's so unnerving that I want to throw up. I can't sleep at night. I can't focus on anything else. I. just. want. to. figure. it. out. But I can't and I'm not going to. At least not completely... So I have to get over what I can't change and focus on what I can. For me, this starts with understanding how to strike a delicate balance between three types of vision:
Hindsight. Foresight. Insight.
Understand where you came from, know that you want to move forward (you don't have to know where), and look within yourself to help you get there. Most people are masters of the first two, but the key to true long-term success lies within the insight piece. So, practice mindfulness and respect the process.
One of the most constructive habits I've formed over the past year is listening to podcasts; more specifically podcasts that chronicle the journeys of successful people. Not only do their stories inspire me to keep chasing my passions, but they also serve as cogent evidence and confirmation that there's no one path to success, and there's no way of knowing when you'll get there. High school dropout, teenage dad, worked in a restaurant, made films on the side, fought his way into New York City, became one of the greatest filmmakers of our generation. Troubled childhood, former big-shot realtor, mom of three, closet-songwriter-turned-record-deal power lady, now hosts one of the most successful podcasts in the world. The more we educate each other on what it takes, the less we will be disillusioned and disenchanted by the prospect of success.
I also think there's space in the market for another type of person. What I could use more than anything else is for someone who is in the midst of figuring it out to bring me along on their journey. Someone who doesn't know how things are going to turn out or what failures or successes lie ahead. Someone who's working awfully hard, dreaming impossibly big, but taking it day-by-day. I want to be that person for you. I want to let you in on my crooked, crazy, and ever-changing process in the hopes that it will serve as a reminder to you that you're never alone. You may even discover that you don't have much left to figure out after all.
I've wasted so much precious time agonizing over what I'm trying to do with this blog, and I'm utterly embarrassed to admit that there are over 30 archived posts living on my site that I never published due to this mindset. The honest answer is: I DON'T KNOW. I JUST WANT TO WRITE. So that's what I'm going to do. For once in my life, I don't have a game plan and I don't know where I'm headed, but I hope we can figure it out together.
All photos c/o the incredible Lilyan Tay.