The Next Five Years

Featured photo above: Just turned 18 years old, about to meet Hilary Duff for the first time, excited out of his wits. What he doesn’t realize is the amount of self-discovery he would endure over the next five years.

For whatever reason, occasionally I like to go through my Tumblr archives – the link of which will never see the light of day if I can help it – and read old posts I made as I was transitioning from high school to college. I haven’t done this in awhile, so I decided to go through them today, and I can’t help but laugh at myself and the person I was before.

I used to think I had it figured out, and that I could plan life out step by step, and that as long as I had a plan, everything will work out perfect. I never really entertained the idea of “Well what will happen if things don’t go as planned?” I told myself that there was only one path, and it was up to me to forge that path myself. Failure was nowhere to be seen on that path.

To paint you a picture, here’s where I thought I would be at this point in my college career:

  • Finished or finishing my degree in Civil Engineering
  • If I am finished with my degree, then I am most likely already working as a civil engineer, looking at grad schools to pursue a Master’s degree in Math (at the time, I was an engineering major with a math minor. We see where that path soon took me).
  • If I am still in the process of finishing my degree, I would then be in my last year (HA. No end in sight from where I am now), working an engineering internship.
  • Be in a serious relationship (Been single for 22 years and counting).
  • Probably renting an apartment (I obviously had no grasp of how money works when I was 18).
  • Other ridiculous things

The kid in that photo thought he had it figured out. He thought he had a plan, he thought the world revolved around him, and he expected his plans to follow through. He would spiral when things didn’t go as planned, and he would blame the world for his issues.

The kid in that photo had no idea what was to come.

But who could blame him? He was just two years shy of 20, with the whole “The world is my oyster” state of mind. He new he was young and still had so much of a life to look forward to, it was exciting to think of all the possible things that could happen in the years to come. He was in no rush to get anywhere, and all he wanted was to be successful.

When I look at my photos from earlier college years, I can’t help but feel like I’m looking at a total stranger. When I think about everything that I’ve experienced in those days, it feels like those things happened in another lifetime. It’s such a trite thing to say, but I do feel like I am a completely different person than I was back then, even if it’s only been 5 years.

The truth is, I probably feel more lost now than I did in that photo. But what’s funny is that I’m probably the same amount of lost now as I was in that photo. I was pursuing an engineering degree at the time, but didn’t really acknowledge the fact that I was pursuing something I didn’t want. I still don’t know what I want now, and I am so far from having it together, but I know that that’s okay because I’m figuring it out little by little everyday.

If I could give that kid advice, it would be to relax. You don’t have to have it all figured out when you’re this young and still have so much of a journey ahead of you. I would tell him that you can’t plan life out step by step, because nine times out of ten, things never go the way you planned them to – and when things do actually go right, be prepared for a rude awaking. I would tell him that it’s okay to fall apart once in awhile, because things need to fall apart in order to fall into place.

Five years ago, I thought by now, I’d have some kind of a life plan figured out, or that I would be somewhere near the end of some plan I made. But I now find myself veered so far off that path, and I know that I’m happier where I am now than where I would’ve been had I stuck to that plan.

At this point, I don’t know what I’m being called to do. I don’t know what the future looks like. I don’t even know when  I’m going to graduate. All I know now is that I’m working towards something, I have a goal in mind, and I get to be as creative as I want to get there. There’s strength in being lost, because there are so many possible routes you can take, and no matter which one you choose, you’ll pick up bits and pieces of yourself along the way, and you’ll come out of each end a different person than before.

I don’t know what’s going to happen over the next five years, and I now know better than to outline my life step by step. But if I can expect the same amount of growth I experienced over the last five years, I’m ready to travel down whatever road God is guiding me to.

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