I’m a planner. I love lists and the thrill of writing something down only to inevitably cross it out later. And it goes well beyond something like grocery shopping or trip planning. I came up with a specific packing methodology in order to move out of my old apartment, then I mocked up a diagram of my new place so I could figure out where the new furniture would go. There are still taped out spots on the floor, exclusively reserved for the tables and chairs I’m saving up to buy. With so much planning in my life, you’d think I’d have it all figured out. But honestly, the hardest thing for me to accept is that I have no clue what I actually want to do with my future.
It wasn’t always this way, I used to have it mapped out. First, I’d earn my BFA from the University of Iowa. Next, I’d work and save money until I had enough to move to New York. Then, I’d audition for Alvin Ailey. If that didn’t work, I planned to just shift to Los Angeles and do commercial work. Finally, I’d retire and open my own dance studio. But midway through the first step, I got sick and it all went flying out the window… along with just about every plan since. My health eventually pushed me to Plan E: the dreaded medical withdrawal. I’ve tried following the typical advice people like to give, “Just live your life day by day.” And my favorite, “You’re still young. It’s okay to not know what you want.” Well, I’ve tried all that and it’s a living hell. Not knowing what comes next just isn’t something I’ve ever been comfortable with.
I recently started binge watching New Girl on Netflix and there was an episode that perfectly described how I was feeling. It was about Winston and his return to the loft after playing basketball in Latvia for two years. He tries to adjust to being back in America and jumps into the job market. He ultimately ends up feeling really lost because he doesn’t know what to do with his life. One line in particular really hit home for me. It was in reference to an interviewer asking Winston why wanted the job and he said, “I had no answer. I’ve done nothing but play basketball my entire life. I just don’t know what comes next.” Boom! Right then and there I realized my life inspired a hit TV show. I am Winston.
But seriously, realizing that dance wasn’t in my future anymore left me scrambling around like a headless chicken. I was desperate to find something that would stick, something that was meaningful. And to be real, I’m still on that hunt. I’m not just out to just make money, though that certainly helps. There has to be some sort of substance behind it. After all, if there’s no meaning behind what I’m doing, how will people believe in me or ever want to join me? Anything less than that is never truly going to last for me, so I’m at this weird fork in the road where I’m trying to pull myself out of a rut whilst also being really unsure of where I’m actually going. This is all happening while my best friends are in grad school, working dream jobs, traveling, or even parenting. I’m dating someone that has a five-year plan. And then here’s me pulling a Winston, totally lost. But I’m constantly reminding myself “I’m my own worst critic.”
It’s quite often that I’m way too hard on myself for what I believe are a lack of accomplishments. But, I have to remember that I cannot compare my journey to anyone else’s. Someone’s past, present, and future can’t be duplicated. I’m learning to stop trying to compete with people who are completely different from me. Why am I jealous of my friend for having her first child? I don’t even want kids.
At the end of the episode, Winston tells Schmidt, “Everybody has their moment. We don’t need to have it figured out right now…our moments will come.” So, for now, I’m just waiting for my moment.