"Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do, but it never gets you anywhere." - Erma Bombeck
My blog post ideas derive from a variety of things, such as wanting to write through and express an emotion or thought, curious about a certain topic, but most often, they stem from the realization that there are others out there undergoing the same struggles as I. It's a big, frightening world out there, but I've come to learn that we are almost certainly simultaneously dealing with the same thoughts and feelings and situations, thinking that we are all alone.
So, if you are feeling stressed about the future, regardless of whether you are in high school, college, preparing to graduate, or are expecting a big change, like a move, please don't feel alone.
I'm right here with you.
Yesterday, I spent nearly two hours frantically applying for jobs after college graduation. I set up a freelancing account, too, and searched the internet for ideas on how to monetize my writing. For about three days now, I have been stricken with fear regarding the future: Where will I end up? What if I hate the path I choose? What do I even want to do?
But truly, it's more than this.
I'm about to graduate, and I'm not happy with where I am.
I'm not the bestselling author I always dreamed of being prior to college graduation.
I don't have a 4.0 GPA.
I don't have a real plan, and same days, it feels like I lack a true passion.
To say the least, these past couple of days have been rocky in this sense.
But, like always, I had an epiphany yesterday. After having just written the blog post, enjoying the journey rather than the goal, I felt like the world's biggest hypocrite. Why was I so stressed about where I was going to end up rather than feeling excited about how I was going to get there? For some strange reason, I was so caught up with "I need to get there now!" without even really asking myself if it was what I truly wanted to do.
As college students, or just as people in general, there is so much pressure to have it all figured out, and to follow a set-in-stone, picture-perfect plan. It seems that everyone around us has it figured out, especially after spending thirty minutes on LinkedIn. But, I've begun to realize, after asking advice from a few people in my life, that no one has it figured out.
No, not at all.
I realized that I was so caught up in the pressure, and it was controlling my life. All of my creative energy and swelling passion dried up, leaving only the itch to find work, regardless of where at.
I first want to disclaim that sometimes there are pressing matters, and you desperately need work, willing to take up anything that comes to you. There are many situations that will be more demanding and stressful than others.
Regardless, there are a few methods that should help elevate stress regarding the future. The following pieces of advice are ones I listened to before I gave in to the pressure of "having it all together this very instant".
3 ways to alleviate stress regarding the future
1) Release the idea of NOW; the myth of happily ever after
We've probably all experienced a dream, pondering on our goal job or passion. Once we get there, wherever there is, we'll be happy, truly. We'll have our happily ever after.
Well, sort of..?
What happens after crossing the finish line? What happens once we've succeeded? Well, life still goes on, that is. And we all know what that means: more challenges, more obstacles because that's what life is.
We might be happier, now that we've reached the top.
But once you reach the top, you can't go anywhere else. You are stagnant. That is, unless you go back down the hill, and then walk back up another.
Once you release the idea of now and introduce more patience, you can chip away at that build of solid stress on your shoulders. There's nothing wrong with picking up a few shifts at a local restaurant, book shop, or any other job that might not be your "dream job". Don't worry, though; you'll get there, in time! As long as you keep going, you'll "succeed".
And then life will continue.
2) Cut out a small chunk each week to work toward your future
Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the stress of the future and spend hours in one sitting frantically applying for jobs. But, what I've learned from this is not only do you burn yourself out, but others around you can sense the frantic energy. It sounds corny, but I truly believe that when you take a step back and allow, opportunity flows to you more freely.
I made a goal of applying to four jobs a week. This way, I'm still making that effort, more so than I was last month, but I'm not obsessed over the application process every day. And I'm also being more mindful and clear about which jobs I truly want.
Find what works for you, and build that system as best as you can!
3) Allow in mindful moments for clarity and authentic desires.
I have meditated *almost* every day for two weeks (something I will write about later...) and doing so has brought me more clarity on what I truly want to do in my future. It's the thoughts that come to us when our mind is quiet that matter most, I think
This also creates room for authentic ideas. Rather than making impulse decisions based on what we think we should be doing, we can truly pay attention to what is calling to us, what is driving us. And if it's nothing at the moment, that's okay, too.
Try to incorporate just five minutes of mindfulness each day, whether at one meal, on a walk, or a meditation. I've learned that, at least for me, just a glimpse of silence offers much clarity as well as cleanses stress and overwhelm, at least for that moment.
Just remember: you don't have to have it all figured out. Also, nothing is ever permanent. Things are always changing, and obstacles may arise, and that's okay. That's life. *cue Frank Sinatra*.
I just know that, wherever you go, you will end up just fine. Now take a deep breath, and trust the process.
You've got this, friend.