There is so much uncertainty surrounding what our future days will look like. We wonder about when we will see a loved one again, if we will get the job or internship we applied for, or where we will move post-graduation.
Last summer, I went back home after my Junior year of college with no plans. I didn’t get any of the internships I applied to, I broke up with my boyfriend, and I didn’t return to my previous job at the Vietnamese restaurant I spent most of my summers growing up. My life felt like a big question mark, what would I do for the next three months?
With graduation on the horizon, there are a lot of questions up in the air and fear about what my life could look like. The thoughts of uncertainty can rip me out of the present moment. Fortunately, this past summer I learned the power of living spontaneously, in the “now,” with less fret about what is next in store.
The first weekend of summer-break, my family reunited to celebrate my cousin Erik’s recent graduation from the University of Madison-Wisconsin. Fortunately, my cousin Kolla and her family were able to travel from her home in Iceland to celebrate. After spending time with them, we talked about what my plans were after school, what I have been currently reading, why I am studying advertising and how it feels to be back to my childhood home. I didn’t know my abyss of plans would lead to a two-week long adventure.
I ended up traveling to Iceland to spend time with my cousins’ family and kids who are ten years younger than I am. The kids reminded me what it looks like to grow up while remaining like my youthful self. Driving through the island I was in awe, by the mountains, the mossy greens and the coolness of the air, even in the sun.
The trip was something that happened in the spur of the moment, and luckily by having the time off, I was set off, to slow down, breathe in clean air and remind myself of my roots, values, and true intentions. If I would have gotten that internship instead, I wouldn’t have experienced all of my personal growth that can’t be measured by anything external. At the end of the trip, I learned so much more about what my soul longs for, and what it feels like to grow, really grow, not just achieve at the surface level of success but feel deeply changed after my travels.
Culturally we move at a fast-pace, super fast, and faster does not always mean better. We weaken our life by letting outside forces and expectations of other people’s opinions of success guide our heart.
I’ve come to learn that each one of our own successes will look different from one another. We can’t predict our future because we aren’t “following” someone else’s way. Success looks different for everyone. Throughout my junior year, there was a constant push and pull within my studies, the work I was doing was being delivered but not satisfying me. There were parts of me that were turning into a robot simply to satisfy what I thought the world expected of me. It’s amazing I made it fully out of that tunnel just by taking some time for myself and taking the summer “off.”
Uncertainty is always there, even when we think we are sure. We can’t run from it or the discomfort it brings to the surface, and there is no good use in covering it up. Running away from our pain traps us and doesn’t allow room to grow into our full potential in the long-run. We don’t always need the answers before we proceed. Discomfort is the first step of growth and knowing that I see uncertainty as a beneficial feeling leads to a newborn freedom.
By giving up our desire to attain the same “success” as everyone around us, we gain bliss of living in the moment that satisfies our soul at the core and leaves our hearts feeling full.
Truly I say to you, don’t worry, take your time. You don’t know what is waiting for you just around the corner. And that is the best part, the uncertainty will lead you places beyond what you could have planned for. The season you are in now won’t end until it has been fully endured and lived its course. In the meantime, here are some great books I have read over the past year that have helped me understand our culture’s perceptions of success and the importance of remaining present through all pains & joy.
The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frankl
All About Love by Belle Hooks
Own the Moment by Carl Lentz