“Where do you see yourself in five years? 10 years?” Ugh. The dreaded question. We’ve all been asked this in a job interview. Even though I have this question prepared down to a science, I still feel like I am swimming in circles trying to honestly answer this question. Asking where I see myself ten years down the road should be banned from existence because it is completely unfair.
I think I speak on behalf of all people in their 20s. HOW do you expect us to give you a realistic idea of WHERE and WHAT we will be doing in 5-10 years?! Do you realize what you are asking of us? Asking this question is like asking us to pick the correct winning lottery ticket. I could barely pick a major in college and I barely know what I want for dinner tonight. . . but you still want me to tell you where I’ll be in ten years?
One of the hardest obstacles in life is accepting uncertainty. We loathe it. We like to know EXACTLY where we are heading in life and exactly what is mapped out for us.
But it isn’t that simple.
I worked so hard to sculpt a perfect plan for my life. But even though now I have a picture-perfect blueprint, there are so many factors that could deter my plan off to a different track. What if I don’t get accepted to this grad school? What if I can’t find a job in the area? OMG, WHAT IF I CAN’T EVEN FIND A SINGLE JOB?! Where will I have to move? PLEASE GOD DON’T LET ME BE POOR FOREVER.
Uncertainty feels like a ton of bricks were dumped on our backs, particularly for us 20-something’s. There are days where I want to rip my hair out because I have no idea where my life is heading. Nights I’ve had a mental breakdown and called my mom crying while scarfing down an entire pizza and chugging a bottle of wine because my life is in shambles.
Learning to live with uncertainty is extremely hard for me because I have a Type A Personality. I love order, organization, and knowing exactly where I am headed. To not know exactly where I’m heading feels like I’m walking the plank off a ship; plunging into the unknown and having no control over my destiny. I JUST WANT TO KNOW WHERE I’LL BE IN 5 YEARS!!
So how do you keep trudging along when the future scares the crap out of you?
Step #1: Train your mind
Train your mind to be excited by this uncertainty and by the limitless number of opportunities in front of you. Let the idea sink in that your life can go in any direction at any given time. That is mystifying and wonderful, people! Think positively and realize how blessed you are to live in this wonderful country where we can create our own destiny and be in control of our choices.
Step #2: Go out of your comfort zone
This is the time to make mistakes, try new things, move different places, EMBRACE that you are young and have the world on your fingertips. Meet new people, be inspired, do what you love, love what you do.
Step #3: One day at a time.
It’s easy to get anxiety and downward spiral when you think of the future in such a broad sense. You need to think of the future in terms of baby steps. Don’t’ focus on the big picture, focus on what you can do today that you will thank yourself for tomorrow. Plan weekly and monthly goals. Write down what you would like to achieve and feel the satisfaction of crossing that off your list. This way, you will feel as if you are in control of your destiny because you will be seeing progress that you made.
Step #4: Have faith
Have faith in yourself and that things will fall into place. Who says you need to figure it all out right now anyways?! J.K. Rowling was rejected by 12 publishers before one decided to give The Philosopher’s Stone a shot. What if she had never given a copy to that 13th publisher?
The truth is, us 20-somethings are all a little lost and scared. We just have to take a leap of faith and be confident. The fear of the unknown can drive us absolutely crazy, but it can also shape us into more well-rounded and self-discovering individuals.
The future ain’t got nothin’ on you.