Maybe summer is a weird season for a college student, but I’m sort of in this journey of uncertainty. As a college senior in the midst of a pandemic, I am excited, confused and slightly terrified for what lies ahead. For a second there, the pandemic seemed to be turning a corner. But given the way the tides have turned, I’m starting to regret my optimism. I’m confused as to what I should expect a few weeks from now when I start classes again. I’m even more uncertain about what I expect in less than a year from now – when I graduate.
If you’re an older, well-intentioned person, you might encourage me by telling me that it all works out. You’ll find a job. You’ll be okay. And I’d like to believe you. I’d like to believe that everything will work out like it always has, but we haven’t been through a pandemic before. (In history we have, but as a collective society at this moment, we haven’t.) And even if we had been through one before, this would be different simply by virtue of time and change.
I’m feeling sort of stagnant. Despite my marketing internship and blogging (not very consistent, sorry!) this summer, I just haven’t been feeling like I’m progressing. Maybe it’s because I’m an Enneagram 3 and so my lack of full-speed productivity means that I feel out of sorts with myself. While I have been reading plenty of books, I’m not seeing the rewards of growth in my life this summer. It’s frustrating.
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For me, not progressing towards any of my visible goals feels defeating. I know that I am not what I do, but I can’t help that I want to do things and watch my progress. It feels like I’m missing the mark, even though at the exact same time, I don’t know what I’m aiming at.
In a pandemic, heck, in your senior year of college, there aren’t exactly shining beacons telling you what you should do or where you should go. You do have options. To hang tight with family or to be near friends, you can network, decide to go to grad school, do the whole job hunting/internship searching type thing. You can write a blog post labelling out all the options you have considered but haven’t quite put into action. The most terrifying (and awesome) thing is that there is no one way to go.
Being on a journey of uncertainty means that there is no clear path in front of you.
It’s all in the power of choice. And it’s up to you to decide.
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The worst part about decision making, or life in general, is that it’s all up in the air. One day, one choice seems right and then the next, after you’ve seen some things, a different choice makes itself known to you. I spent a little chunk of this summer reading The Jesuits Guide to Everything and Welcome to Adulting and A Sacred Voice is Calling because these books had a tiny piece to say about making decisions about work, vocation and how to figure out what comes next. If I’m obsessed with something, I’ll start by consuming everything I can get my hands on – books, podcasts, etc. This leads me to plan A.
When on a journey of uncertainty, you can do plan A (aka what I do) – try to control it. Try to amalgamate every part of your life and try to plan and coerce it into working. Into making sense. If you have ever been accused of being a workaholic or a control freak, this might be where you fall.
Then there’s plan B.
Plan B is just to ignore everything and numb your emotions by overconsumption of food, but mostly television and social media, the endlessly distracting noise of entertainment. This is also what I do (when I fall into unhealthy patterns). Perhaps you are someone who goes all in. You might fall into this one because you know how to put your head in the sand and keep it there.
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Lastly, there’s plan C.
This is the road I take least often. But probably the road I need to take the most.
It’s to take a step in front of me if I can but also get comfy right where I am. It’s hard to be on this journey of uncertainty and reckon with the fact that you won’t always have the answers when you want to. I’d love to know what I’ll be doing post-grad, but I haven’t even started applying for jobs yet. (Although I already have a spreadsheet of places I’m considering.)
You can take one step, knowing that if it doesn’t work, you can step back and change it. Most decisions are reversible and you gain more knowledge by moving forward and taking a chance. But more importantly, plan C is knowing that I’m not always going to know what lies ahead, and even the step in front of me might seem a little foggy and unstable.
So I’m going to need some faith.
Faith that I won’t crash. Faith that if I do crash, I won’t completely burn. I’ll be okay. Plan C is the hardest mindset to embody and act out. It requires leaning into the discomfort of uncertainty instead of trying to escape it.
Being on a journey of uncertainty is a hard thing, especially when it involves preparing for a season of upcoming transitions. But the thing is we don’t always get the foresight of knowing a change is ahead, and because we do, we can do our best to embrace a mindset that is open and trusting in what is to come.
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