[This post is for all of the people out there (most notably high school and college students, though it could be any age group) who are not 100% sure what they’re doing with their lives.]
Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift; that’s why it is called the present.
I used to be (and still can be) very plan-oriented. I like to know what’s happening in my life, when it is happening, and how I am going to make it happen. I like to go through the list of events I have going on for Tuesday on Monday night and I try to think of the most efficient way to make it happen.
Not only do I like to have a plan for tomorrow, but I like to have a plan for my long-term future. I want to make sure I am aware of where my decisions will lead me to and not get too caught up in the day-to-day things.
In high school, most of us were put under a lot of pressure to try to figure out our lives. We were expected to have a career in mind and college picked out by the time Senior year rolled around. Guidance counselors were available to help you achieve that one big goal in life. If you thought you wanted to be a doctor, people would show you the path that would lead you to becoming a doctor and send you on your way.
In the last year or so, I’ve been facing a problem. I no longer have my “eyes on the prize”. I no longer confidently say things like “I am going to be a math teacher at Davison High School when I grow up”. I no longer know the exact career-choice in life that I want to work towards. Sometimes, I feel like I’m in the dark. I think things like “What’s wrong with me? Everyone else has it all figured it out. Why don’t I know what I want to do with my life?”
The problem is that I think I have to have a goal such as “become a doctor” and “find the perfect person to marry” and find the path that will lead me to that ultimate destination. I’m learning that that may not be the case in my life.
As I become less and less OCD about having plans and making sure everything goes according to that plan, I realize more and more the kind of life I need to live; I need to be open to a “gig-by-gig” lifestyle.
While struggling with deciding what one career choice I wanted to work towards in this past year of college, I was asked to give a talk to a hundred high schoolers about “Evangelization”. I said sure, even though that talk was not something I thought would directly lead me to the destination I thought I was striving for. After I gave that talk, someone asked me if I would like to be a camp counselor for the next week. I said “sure” on blind faith, not knowing if that event was supposed to be on the one set path that would lead me to the ultimate career destination.
Both spontaneous invitations did not necessarily relate to the career I was striving towards, but both ended up impacting my life tremendously. Both opportunities opened new doors for me and have helped me along the path I didn’t even realize I was on.
This gig-by-gig lifestyle, as much as it goes against my plan-oriented preference, is actually more rewarding to me than having one set goal and doing everything I can to achieve it. I used to think that a career goal, say “becoming a counselor”, would be the light I was striving for and the path to become a counselor would be clear-cut; I would get an education, get a job as a counselor, and everything would go according to plan. What I’m accepting now is that what I am working for is actually more of a mystery to me than a certainty.
Instead of focusing on one career and the seemingly one way to get there, I am taking various types of opportunities, “gigs” if you will, and letting them lead me down the path. I no longer try to delve into such thoughts as “Exactly what type of counselor do I need to start training to become?” Instead, I am letting my mini-experiences in life lead me down the path that I know God has planned out for me.
When I pray, I’m learning to not pray “God, show me what career I need to go into and I will work towards it”. Instead, I’ve begun to pray “Lord, show me what I need to do today to lead me into the tomorrow you have planned for me.”
It’s like my high school band director always stressed, “Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.”
Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”