I had awesome plans for this weekend — a new recipe to try out, the N.C. State Fair
, a Hinder
concert, a picnic with my CUSA
friends. In the end, none of these things made my agenda. Instead, I holed up in my apartment and pored over career assessments and personality tests. Lame, right?
Certainly, other factors prevented me from going to these events (relatives and friends visited for a day), but I could’ve chosen to do other fun things during my spare time, like go on Franklin Street. I didn’t, because I felt like I deserved to stay home until I figured out what the heck I’m going to do with my life.
The Myer’s-Briggs Type Indicator (note: my second time around), Strong Interest Inventory and Focus 2 Career Exploration alone took about an hour to fill out. And then, there I was, having filled out three assessments and then some, still without a single clue. My interests are clear: I love writing, psychology and helping others. I actually know what I want to do, it’s just fitting it all in one career that stumps me.
When the assessments failed to serve as my own personal Magic 8 Ball, I resolved to hash out a “life plan” for the next 30 years: what post-college degrees I would get, the potential publications I’d want to write for, the cities that appealed to my lifestyle. Doing this was supposed to make me feel more grounded, but all it did was make me more frantic. The what-ifs automatically began to form, and the big question mark still hung in the air. I felt like a mess. Surely by junior year of college, people should have an inkling of their future!
But today on tumblr, I came across a passage that woke me from this naive perspective:
When I read this excerpt, I instantly felt peace within me. How beautiful words are, and how wonderful it is that the right words always seem to pop up when I need them the most. Perhaps this big old question mark isn’t some puzzle to solve on a deadline. Perhaps the question mark is the journey itself, for if we choose to live every day not knowing what’s ahead, then things will unfold as they were meant to.
Had I planned everything out for the next 30 years–down to the very street I’d live on–then there would be no wiggle room for pleasant surprises and unexpected forks down the road. Each day would be geared toward fulfilling those goals, those career aspirations, until they were reached. And what then? My writing wouldn’t be about the writing anymore, but rather would become a job that I’d planned for myself. Learning would no longer be about the learning, but a degree etched in gold on a diploma–just another line of text on my resume.Life would be mediocre. And I swore to myself that I’d never settle for mediocrity.
Moving beyond a mediocre, day-to-day routine, I have devised a short list of to-dos (ironically) in an effort to brood less and live more.
1) Observe others. If people-watching was a career, I’d be all set to go. I learn so much simply by noticing the child walking down the street, tiny hand clutching his mother’s pinky, and the man of Chinese-Japanese descent with fingers flying across the piano in Hanes Art Center. And by observing others, I realize I’m not the only one to feel the way I do. These feelings of uncertainty, fear and doubt — they’re universal.
2) Try something different. A few weeks ago, I wrote a historical feature for the first time. I thought it was going to be boring, but through my research, interviews and in-person observations, I discovered a whole new character within a place–something that never occurred to me could exist. Writing about these moments of discovery made me feel excited and alive, and that story assignment has turned out to be one of my favorites.
Also, a couple days ago, I signed up for the Halloween House of Horrors blogfest. I have written scary stories before, but not “romantic horror.” The story idea for this blogfest has yet to be formed, so I guess you’ll just have to wait and see what I come up with on Friday, Oct. 19!
3) Plunge into a challenge.
It’s no secret that I love NaNoWriMo
, but I haven’t officially won since 2008 when I was a junior in high school. The point of challenges isn’t to win, but to see how far you can push yourself. This November, I’m pushing for 50,000 words. I won’t settle for less.
How do you spice up your life on a daily, weekly, monthly basis? Do you consider yourself a planner, or more on the spontaneous side?