How to Handle Your Unknown Future, as Told by Amy Poehler
When you graduate from college, you realize you're facing more questions than answers. The biggest question of all, the one you'll receive from every family member, friend, even stranger? The one about what you're doing after graduation. Your answer? Usually a great big, "I don't know." All joking aside, this question drove me nuts! I didn’t have a job yet, and I was extremely envious of those who did. I felt like no matter what answer I gave it was not good enough for the person asking the question. As the future drew closer and people continued to expect me to have the next forty years of my life planned at the mere age of 22, my insecurity and panic grew. Every single person in this great big world wants to know just exactly, and specifically how you are going to impact it. It all makes me want to scream.
I recently picked up a copy of the hilarious and witty Amy Poehler's book, Yes Please! When discussing her young adult life and her choices she brought up the big dreaded question mark that was her future at the time. Rather than answering it, or providing an extremely hilarious and sarcastic list of answers she called out the world for asking it! Poehler suggested instead asking those in their twenties what they do not want to do.
Now that is something I can give a specific and detailed answer to.
I wish I had read this a few months earlier when the stress was eating at my soul; when I was embarrassed to answer that I would be living at home and didn't have a job yet; when I had no concrete idea of where I wanted to be in the next year, let alone in 40 years. I wish someone had told me I didn’t have to have it all figured out.
I am looking forward to not knowing what the future looks like. I am excited and blessed to be employed and to love my job, but I also know that it is not something I will be doing forty years from now. Don’t be discouraged by the job you hate, because it is teaching you just as much about yourself and life as the job you will one day love.
The city you live in, the crappy apartment, the horrible job-- these things aren't forever, so don’t act like they are. Get motivated to discover what you don’t want to do, and in the process you’ll find out what you do want to do. Never, ever settle. Maybe something you thought you were made for turned out to be a total flop, but don’t get stuck. Work hard to get to where you want to be. Maybe an unexpected sabbatical for grad school awaits, or a new job opportunity. Maybe you're going a completely different direction than you thought you would, so stay open to the possibilities and don't be afraid of them-- celebrate them!
I am so excited for the promise of adventure that my future brings, and I am no longer scared of it. No, I don't know where I will be in forty years, but does anyone? The guessing game is causing undo stress, and honestly isn't helping anyone. What am I doing with my life? Being exactly who I want to be.