Turning “What ifs” into “What’s next”

Four years ago, I was devastated with the news that I wasn’t going to be the next editor-in-chief of my college newspaper. At the time, I didn’t know what was next. I had been waiting for that other answer, that other moment when I could see my name on the masthead, add the line to my resume. Suddenly, my plan was out of whack. And then just as suddenly, I had a new plan. I left the paper a few months later, and decided to finish school a semester early to get a head start on the job search.

Three years ago, I had just finished school, was living at home, looking for jobs and apartments and trying to decide between Chicago, New York and DC. I thought about working at a magazine, at a non-profit, at a newspaper, at a magazine, and finally decided upon a PR firm or a non-profit in DC – and promptly moved here only with the apartment in place.

Two years ago, I was really ready to get out of my first job – really really ready. I knew more about what I didn’t want, what I did want, and where to look. Then I found a great one (where I’m at today).

One year ago, I was tired of letting my past interfere with my present and future. I wanted to figure out who I was and what I could be. So I started seeing a therapist.

And then there’s today.

My generation, Millennials, is known for always being ready to move on to the next thing, to transition before we get bored, to be bigger, better, cooler, smarter, you name it. These are traits that don’t apply to everyone, and although I don’t think they all apply to me in most situations, I admit that I see myself in these categories at times. Today, in the general sense, is one of those times.

In other posts, I’ve talked about how the upcoming year could mean some big changes for me in terms of taking the next step in my relationship with my boyfriend, and how where I’ll be and what I do might be impacted by his own career opportunities. So of course, as a planner, I’m already thinking ahead about my future and the what ifs, but this adds on an extra layer of omg what will I be doing in October of this year, and May of next, and so forth.

The what ifs can be scary – but as I look at my four year journey and see that every scary, uncertain moment was followed by a confident, positive change, I carry that with me and know that the what ifs and the what’s nexts will always be there. Every time a change is made, the next one will start rolling in, like the tide. Sometimes it will be high, bringing in crashing waves of momentum and excitement that are perfect for riding out on in life’s extreme moments. Sometimes it will be low, gently washing over each day in my life, a slow transition will little side affects. And sometimes, I may get caught up in the undercurrent, and feel like I’m about to be pulled under and carried away.

But then I do what I’ve done before: I talk to friends and family, write down goals, put thoughts into action and turn what ifs into what’s next.

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