Every so often we experience times when our circumstances feel out of our control, when uncertainty is the only thing of which we can be certain.
I am presently in one of those times. In the past when I have had to wait for things, usually I have known what I was waiting for. This allowed me to plan ahead. But right now I find myself unable to plan, because it will be about two months until I hear the answers that will determine where I will be living for at least the next three years of my life. In addition, the answers will significantly alter the course of my life from here on out. My applications have been sent in. All I can do is wait.
In my situation there are four potential outcomes: one involves graduate school in a new town in my home state, two involve graduate school in the same area I went to college, and the final one involves moving back to that area but not attending graduate school. I’m not sure which one will become reality. I can hope, but there are pros and cons to every option, and no amount of hope will change the outcome. Another difficulty is that it is nearly impossible to know which of these options is most likely to come true.
Right now I am living in this weird state where I can’t plan my future. As a planner, this is incredibly frustrating. Not knowing what a large part of my life will be like for the next three years is irritating. The next few months of my calendar are eerily blank. In a way this situation feels like the season finale of a television show. I’m waiting in suspense for the big reveal. Yet this is not a season finale. This is not just some story I can watch and walk away from. It is a story that I will have to accept and then live.
Sometimes I worry and fret and wish that answers would come quickly. And it works. It really works! In that by worrying about it I use up time and am therefore closer to when I will have my precious answers.
But it also doesn’t work. It doesn’t make me happy. It gets me worked up into a state of anticipation that cannot be maintained for a day let alone two months.
Even writing about this topic does not change the fact that I will not know the answers I desire for several more weeks.
As my perspective on this time has shifted, I keep coming back to the idea of being present. I can’t control the future, and I also don’t have a clear plan for the future. All I can do is focus on the present. That’s all that I can control, to a certain degree.
I think of the purpose of this time. Maybe this time is meant to rest from college to pursue other things before redirecting most of my energy into more education.
After some thought, I recognize this empty time as a gift. With all gifts, we have several modes in which to respond. We can throw them out. We can ignore them, waiting for a reward that we feel we have earned. Or we can be thankful for what is given to us, recognizing that gifts have nothing to do with what we deserve.
I am choosing to embrace this time as a gift, and I hope to use it wisely. With this time I can do the things I’ve never seemed to have time for. All of the energy that I spend planning for the future can be redirected to other dreams and goals that reflect other parts of me. I can spend time doing things that will matter regardless of the answers I am given. I can do things I enjoy that transcend my current schedule.
After all, I am not going to get this time back. I also don’t know if there will ever be a time that is like this again. So instead of worrying about the answers I want but cannot yet have, I’m going to try see this time as a gift and use it well. I am going to appreciate it as much as I can, because once I have my answers things will change, and this time will be gone.
This time is going to pass one way or another. I can spend it fretting about what I cannot know. Or I can accept what I cannot know and focus on the things I can do.