Why I’m ditching the life plan
I hate uncertainty.
I hate it so much that I Wikipedia the ending of TV shows halfway through to find out who is going to die. I don’t like not knowing the fate of the characters before I invest in their life. Honestly, I just don’t see the point if they’re just going to get killed off in the end (RIP Derek Shepherd).
Unfortunately, I can’t do the same thing for the plot of my life. There isn’t a Wiki Page that will tell me what job I’ll get, who I’ll marry or if I ever win the lottery.
So I chose the most predictable path and did everything right. I finished High School, picked a versatile degree, and got myself into Law school. Next up is to get a grad job, marry a hunk, and achieve world domination by the time I’m 25. Not a bad plan hey?
But turns out, plot twists do exist in real life. Depression sneaks up on you. The people you thought would be by your side forever, leave. You spend sleepless night staring at the ceiling wondering if this is all there is. Suddenly the career you’ve spent a decade working towards no longer drives you. So you decide maybe you want to explore something new.
Turns out, there is this whole other creative side of myself that I’d spent a lifetime neglecting. An idea knocked on my door and asked me to embark on an adventure to bring it to life. I could either close the door in its face, pretend we’d never met, and continue on my predictable, safe plan. Or, I could rip up the map I had for my life and follow the idea onto a new path.
My fear of uncertainty taunted me with visions of failure and told me to stay insignificant. I nearly gave in. I think we expect the massive turning points in our life to come with a flashing sign saying: ‘This is It- Everything changes after this!’ I’ve learnt it’s the small choices you make in the face of anxiety that shape the rest of your life.
People would have been understanding if I didn’t follow through. They would have pat me on the back and told me my current trajectory was good enough. The thing is, no one will ever care as much about your calling as you do. Other people won’t have to live with the consequences if you smother your dream out of fear. You’ll be the one with the broken heart if you never even try.
I spent my Winter break investing in writing courses and digital marketing workshops that were full of people double my age and experience. I sat in rooms full of movers and shakers who already owned their own creative enterprises, while I only owned pink stationary and half a degree. The first time I had to introduce myself, I mustered up my confidence to explain that I was a law student who loved stories and just wanted to do something different.
One guy gave me a pity smile.
I felt completely out of my depth but I loved rubbing shoulders with the people who were going to create the next big thing. Our teacher worked in one of the top marketing companies and was a wild spirit who used words like ‘shit,’ and ‘f*%k yea’ as she taught us how to be masters in copywriting. She wore a black sweatshirt with the words ‘NINETEEN’ emblazoned on the sleeves in white, and had a chain with her name in plastic letters dangling around her neck. She was confident in all her kookiness, was clearly an expert in her craft, and I was drawn to her eccentricity.
I approached her at the end to ask her advice on what a 20 something-year-old who wanted to break into the creative industry should do.
“No one is going to take a chance on someone with no experience,’ I declared to her.
“That’s not true,” she scoffed, “I had drawn a picture of a bong on my website, right, and my now-boss approached me and was like ‘Whoa that’s so cool, do you want to work for me?’ And I was like Sick yea! So that’s how I got my job.”
She paused to adjust her clear-framed, hipster glasses. “If you want writing to be your thing, you need to start showcasing your work. Start writing and put it up somewhere.”
“But who would read it?”
She scoffed again. “Forget the numbers. I moved to another country, right, and started making the most random YouTube videos and my first one only had like 4 views or something. Now- it’s completely blown up! Just go. Make the website. Set up your brand. Go home and do it right now.”
In line with my endless self-doubt, it’s taken me weeks-no, months- to implement her advice. But now here we are. This is it. Welcome.
I’m slowly getting better with uncertainty. I don’t reach out to Wikipedia as much at the start of a Netflix series, and I try to enjoy the highs and lows with the characters- even if they do end up dying in random car crashes.
Because honestly, the best moments of my life have been the unplanned ones. The people who have rocked up unannounced have turned out to be the greatest friends. The times when I have chosen to turn off my GPS and just drive, have led me to the most exciting destinations.
Don’t get me wrong, if you have a carefully curated life plan that is working completely for you, then you’re kinda my hero. But for now, I think I’m going to try letting spontaneity take the wheel and see where it takes me.
Oh, and by the way, I’m still fully set on achieving world domination.
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