Life is not a Netflix series. Our goals and dreams are not eloquently written in a crisp font with a dramatic twist and a happy ending to close out each season. Fascinated by film and television production since I was a child, this mentality has plagued me for most of my life. I am in constant search of the happy ending, which leads me to anxiously over plan my life only to find that things don't usually work out that way.
Living in the moment is hard for millennials. Our generation likes to share posts on Facebook and photos on Instagram that make us look carefree and happy-go-lucky, but I think we all worry about the future. There's a lot of pressure - to get a good job, find the right internship, live in the trendiest city, and drink the hippest cocktails. It can be overwhelming. We act like we promote self discovery but look down on the kids who moved home after graduation to waitress or take the year off before graduate or professional school.
I have friends working for world-famous publications, covering a monumental presidential race for the #1 journalism program in the nation, teaching English in Thailand, running successful start-up businesses, and getting married. That's enough to cause any gusty go-getter to panic and wonder what went wrong.
But the hard-to-see truth is that nothing went wrong. A good friend recently said to me, "Your chapter 1 shouldn't be compared to someone else's chapter 20. You're starting over and that's totally ok." As a 20-year-old, college graduate with no future plan in sight that was exactly what I needed to hear.
We live in a world where our lives are google-able. People like to make it their business to find out what you're up to these days. This causes us to feel like we have to answer to others for where we are and what we're doing. My close friends keep telling me, "You aren't supposed to know what you want to do. You're only 20." And it's been really difficult to come to terms with it and be ok with not knowing what my happy ending is going to be.
I think no matter what you're doing - sitting at home, walking through your alma mater's campus because you never left your college town, or decorating your new apartment in New York City or Seattle - you are right where you're supposed to be.
I lose sight of that, a lot. I get caught up in the illusion of it all. Graduation meant the start to my new life and the foundation for my new career. But there isn't a standard cookie cutter for post-graduate plans. There's no one way to do this thing. We're all figuring it out as we go and some people make the process look easier than others.
The problem is, we're looking at the end goal - the happy ending. We are waiting to graduate college or get that job with that company or marry that guy and move to that city. We are holding on to fantasy dreams that may or may not come true. Every decision we make is centered around this daydream ending.
We stopped living in the moment and it's caused us to lose ourselves. That is the true tragedy. We got caught up in producing our lives like it's a television series with a happily ever after that is perfectly constructed to our liking. We should instead let the spontaneous moment be just that, spontaneous. This will make a wonderful life, with good times and bad, beautifully come together and teach us more about who we are.
By no means am I feeling a lot more comfortable with my future. But I feel more confident knowing that my main priority right now doesn't have to be where I'm going, it's where I am. I am here, in this moment, right now, and this is exactly where I am supposed to be.