The Art of (Pretending) Having It Together

Notice the featured image I chose, taken a few days ago: Home early from work because of a cold, bed unmade, scouring social media (but please draw your attention away from the hole in my sock). This photo, for the most part, is a lot like the current state of my life: In apparent disarray, but with the right filter, still looks aesthetically pleasing. Every Thursday, I co-emcee Cru’s weekly meetings, and every Thursday, I show up wearing my business casual attire I wear at my grown-up job as a Marketing Assistant for an actual company. I always get comments left and right about how my outfits at Weekly Meeting are always on point, hair impeccably coiffed, and how my strides are always laced with confidence. Little do those people know that just a few moments before I walked through the doors, I was picking stray lettuce off of my lap from stuffing my face with McDonald’s while I raced and cursed in the middle of rush hour traffic. Pretending I have it together is my forte, and I am here to tell you how much my life is in shambles, and how I came to terms with that.

Last week, I had a meeting with my boss to discuss the end of my contract with the company. I was honestly just expecting to be told whether or not they would extend my contract (they did), and what projects I can look forward to over the next few months. What was supposed to be a short discussion about my future with the company ended up being an hour-plus-some-change discussion about my future in general.

About a week ago, I finally got word that I’ll officially be graduating at the end of Spring quarter, something I’ve been waiting to hear for the past two years. While I was ecstatic about this news, I soon realized the reality that I would actually have to get my crap together and figure out what it is I want to do once I get my degree. Up to that point, I had a general idea of what I want to do – either in the realms of graphic design or education – but recently, it became even more apparent to me that “a general idea” isn’t enough, or at least it shouldn’t be.

You see, my boss asked me what my future plans are. Just like every other graduating senior out there, I’m met with panic and anxiety when the words “future” and “graduation” are brought up in conversation. Normally, I respond with something along the lines of “Oh I don’t know, we’ll see where the wind takes me,” and save my existential crisis for later. It’s even more nerve wracking when your boss asks you what your future plans are, especially if your boss is at all like mine. I stumbled on my words. I tried to make “I have no idea” sound more eloquent. I tried to make it look like I have something figured out when the reality is that I have nothing figured out. I didn’t want to show her that I, a 23 year old graduating senior, didn’t have anything remotely close to a plan in mind – after all, my future with the company was on the line, or so it felt.

The comforting thing about all of this is that it’s super important to my boss that I’m growing as a person while I’m working for that company. They want to provide me the necessary means possible so I can reach my ultimate potential and accomplish my future goals. What’s suffocating me is that it almost felt like she was giving me a deadline to figure it out. Over the past few years, I’ve learned that you can’t always plan your life out step by step. Yes, it is good to have a general idea and outline of a plan of what you want to do in the future, but giving yourself a deadline to figure it all out won’t be as productive as you think it might be. I’ve tried so hard not to pressure myself into having anything figured out at any given moment. At 18, I thought I did, but since then, my life path has taken on a completely different trajectory, and I’m completely fine with that.

Through a series of humbling experiences, I’m still not sure what I want to do after I get my degree. I’ve been blessed enough to at least have options, and I’ve been served with different opportunities so I can at least figure out what I’m interested in. Right now, I’m wearing many different hats. I work as a Marketing Assistant for an LED light company. I’m a graphic designer and student assistant for one of the departments on campus. I’m a student aide in an AP Calculus classroom at a high school in Pomona. I’m dabbling in script writing to hone in on my creative writing skills. I have a heart for ministry and reaching people across diverse backgrounds. All of these are so vastly different, and I’m fortunate to have at least half of these opportunities. But while on the surface it may seem that having all of these things on my plate means that I have it figured out, in my own mind, it means that I don’t have it figured out. While I’m at one job, I’m always thinking about the other, and while I’m writing, I’m thinking about how I can create a lucrative future for myself. Everything’s laid out in front of me, and nothing is clear.

So if you’re reading this, no matter what stage of life you’re in – whether you’re a freshman in college, a graduating senior like myself, or many years removed from your academic career – it’s okay to not have any idea of what your future will hold, and you shouldn’t put any pressure on yourself to have it figured out at any time. Just keep trucking on, friend. Life isn’t about finding yourself – it’s about creating yourself.

 

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