From time to time I'll think back to my headspace when I was just entering high school and how simple the future seemed. Of course, I would finish high school, go to university, graduate and become a reporter or publishing editor or some career that involved words before getting married. Those 15 years were rehearsed in my mind, like the performance of the Macarena, and I figured they'd go off without a hitch.
And then I graduated high school and things seemed less simple. I had to start school again, but this time in a more adult world with more responsibilities and no handholding. I had to take care of my own shit and I realized if I had the freedom to do that, what was stopping me from changing my future path entirely? Quickly life became about simply passing difficult courses, finding love and making friends. The path I was supposed to be following had become foggy, morphing into a fork in the road with another route to take. A different one, but still appealing in its own right.
Some people still like the notion of a plan because of its simplicity, but graduation from university taught me that there are many reasons why it wasn't the right thing for me.
It might seem obvious to say, but people change. No one stays the same forever, at least, hopefully not. Hopefully there is an emotional maturity, just big enough to reveal more of a person's true desires. We can only live in the shadows of our parents or siblings for so long before we break free. I often think about my motivations and desires when I was in high school and cringe at how trivial they seem to me today, but I know I'll be doing the same thing 10 years from now. Making a diligent plan for your future when you are still growing as a person seems counterintuitive and slightly debilitating to me. You will forever be stuck in the mindset you had in your pubescent years. A scary thought.
SETS YOU UP FOR DISAPPOINTMENT
Now, there's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to achieve a certain goal. That's vital for any development and sense of accomplishment. What I have an issue with is the notion that every desire has to be attained in a certain amount for years (i.e. 5) and will be done through a series of specific steps. It transforms your life into a Wiki How article rather than an Ernest Hemingway novel. The way I've always thought of my aspirations is that if I want it enough I'll make it happen, meaning I trust myself enough to know that I'll put all the necessary effort in without micromanaging my journey there. Most of the time, it's worked. It also alleviates some pressure because without the constant fear of failure within this set time frame, any success will feel that much greater.
FIGHTING AGAINST A "BIOLOGICAL CLOCK"
Not everyone wants kids, and that's okay. This "biological clock" that people try to guilt trip you with is garbage and slightly manipulative, if you ask me. It insinuates that a woman only has a certain amount of time to achieve everything she wants and men have, essentially, forever. It pushes us into a corner and forces us to pick one thing over another; a career or a baby? A marriage or a flourishing social life? This notion also suggests that if we're past this prime we are now ostensibly useless as full-fledged women. Sure, we can have a good career and be happy and all that, but we can't have children and that's all we're meant to do at the end of the day...right? I just find it sexist and insensitive for anyone to suggests you need to plan your life out meticulously in the preparation of your declining fertility. No one should make us feel like we are slaves to our bodies.
WHO ARE YOU DOING IT FOR?
This is an important question to ask yourself if you do have a 5 year plan and are happy with it. I am all for empowerment and motivation - Get it, gurl! You got this! And whatever other slogan on an inspirational gif. But if you are not doing it for yourself, then what's the point of it all? If you are being forced into sorting everything out by the time you're 25 by someone who is not you, maybe it's time to take a step back and ask what their motivations are. Has your mom put your GP on the payroll to convince you to have a baby? Are societal expectations weighing heavy on your shoulders and making your achievements feel useless? Are all those likes and follows and friends you want to have, but can't quite attain, making your efforts seem pointless? If the answer is "yes", then you might want to consider scrapping this 5 year plan altogether.
I'd love to read your thoughts on this topic as it's something I've been thinking about a lot lately. Do you have a plan for your future? I don't and it's quite scary, but liberating at the same time.