At first glance, it’s easy for others to judge us. How we interpret their judgment and reactions to our lives is another story.
A couple of weeks ago, I was walking between classes and work when I ran into one of my professors. I don’t have a class with him this semester, so I haven’t actually seen or talked to him in a year. We spent a few minutes chatting about my previous few months in Canada and how that was and what other people we know are up to.
Then, the classic question students hear far too often comes up. Need I say it without you probably guessing what it is?… “What are your plans after graduation?”
As background information, I’m technically graduating a year earlier than originally planned. By age, I should be at a junior status, but I’ll be getting a diploma in May, or at least whenever they mail it to me. That fact alone is not widely known by peers and faculty, so that generally ends up with others giving me funny, confused looks. Don’t even get me started on trying to explain it when I’m in any interview setting.
But besides that obvious deterrence from the norm, I continue to confuse people by my answer to the tired old question we’re all curious to know. Obviously in a quick conversation, you’re not about to lay out your life plans and goals so everything sounds cohesive and well-thought-out. Instead, you have to somehow fit the next step on your journey into a short snippet and hope for the best.
Generally that isn’t too hard for a lot of students. The typical answers involve graduate school or having a job lined up after they graduate. I’m not one of those people though. My answer to the question sounds something like me saying I plan to take a year to volunteer abroad somewhere.
I think most of the reaction just comes from hearing a plan that isn’t the previous two I mentioned. You don’t hear a different answer every day. Not only that, but when I can only keep it vague as I figure out plans for myself, understandably people might have more questions than positive comments.
I overthink everything. These situations don’t help with that. That quick exchange with my professor was just another instance of me questioning every single word and nonverbal signal in what was probably not even five minutes. I automatically assume that what I’m doing isn’t right, that it isn’t smart, and that I’m letting people down by not living up to my fullest potential.
You don’t have to be in my shoes to empathize with this feeling. We can lives our lives however we choose, but if your decisions don’t follow society’s step-by-step guideline, you feel like an outcast, like you’re doing it all wrong. I can’t pinpoint, but I’d have to imagine this discrepancy has probably squandered plenty of people’s true passions and ambitions, just knowing that it might deviate from others’ expectations.
At the end of the day, you aren’t living your life for anybody else besides yourself. It’s not your job to please others. Don’t let outside opinions stifle your dreams, as cliche as that sounds. It’s not easy to live differently from others. Stand firm in your beliefs and gut feelings. You can certainly take others’ advice into consideration, but their role is mainly to provide support for the journey you wish to build.
If you’re spiritual like me, this deviation might be something you classify as a calling, a higher being directing your path down an unknown trail, but you have faith knowing God (or whoever) won’t steer you wrong. Even if you feel out-of-control, there’s always somebody who has your back.
Maybe you’re at a place in life where you feel plain lost and directionless. Maybe you had a very elaborate plan for yourself in mind, until an unexpected event flipped that plan on its head. Maybe you’re doubting yourself think everything is going wrong.
No matter what you’re feeling, there’s a reason you are in this exact place at this exact time. You’re meant to be here. You have a purpose, even if that isn’t clear to you right now. It will be, in its own time. Even if you feel unstable, you need to trust in yourself and in life’s grand plans that you’ll be okay. Without fully knowing it, you’re preparing for whatever will come next. And this next place bears no consideration into what is common, what others see you doing, and that’s okay. Believe in yourself. Believe in the loved ones that support you. Believe in God and the universe and life that everything flowing as it should.
Have you ever been in a place where you feel lost, or others question your decisions? How were you to overcome that uncertainty?
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie