A few weeks ago, if you asked me about my future plans, I would’ve describe an articulate plan of my next action steps after college; I would move to New York City, pursue social entrepreneurship, and go for the big companies I consider my dream organizations. I would’ve talked about the spreadsheets I’ve compiled during my job search and the many ways I’ve tried to quantify and qualify important decisions.
What I realized (today) was that my desire to control every aspect of my life was closing me off to beautiful organic opportunities.
This year, I’ve really struggled with the definition of “adulthood.” Is there some kind of momentous event that makes one an adult? If there were a certificate of adulthood, what would the criteria be? I've been startled to learn that all of my "adult" friends – in their mid-20s to 40s – are simply just winging it. There's no instruction manual, and everyone is just doing the best they can.
Perhaps, then, being an adult is about shedding the illusion of control and accepting groundlessness as a natural part of life. The unknown is terrifying, but detailed plans aren’t the antidote for fear of the unknown. I’m starting to think that acceptance and light-heartedness are.
This is not to say that I’m aimless. I’m crystal clear about my purpose in life; my goal is to empower young people to make their impact in the world. I believe that being a great communicator will help me achieve this, and I still hope to work at the intersection of design and social impact. However, I’m dissolving my notions of “plans” and opening myself up to opportunities I cannot yet see. In the words of authors Ralph Ellison, “Life is to be lived, not controlled.”