It is no secret that life is unpredictable. Any book, TV show, movie, or even story told between friends will show you that. Never has a good plot started out with “Everything went exactly as I planned it.” That’s just boring. And yet, when life does take a turn, and everything is not as we planned, it certainly does tend to throw us for a loop. This seems so simple (and yes, cliché) so you would think we might prepare ourselves a bit more for when things go awry. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Especially for those of us to tend to plan obsessively. I might be a little guilty of that… When I was 12, I outlined a plan for my whole life. I’ll spare you all the details, but I picked the college I would attend, the classes I would take there, what I might do during the gap year I would absolutely need to take before grad school… I even went so far as to print out the pre-requisites I needed to get into my grad school of choice—TEN YEARS before I would be attending! It is crystal clear to anyone who meets me (even briefly) that I am a planner. Spontaneity does not come easily to me. Sure, I can be flexible and adapt as obstacles arise, but usually, that’s because I’ve thought of three backup plans ahead of time. I am about as unpredictable as I am graceful—and just ask the doorway I bump into about seven times a day about that.
Of course, the plan I made at age 12 did not come true (although part of it did—my degree is in English!), so I don’t know how I thought I could get away with such a detailed plan again. Maybe it was because of all those voices you hear in college—both inside your head and out—asking what you’re doing with your life and simply not accepting “I don’t know” as an answer. Unlike plenty of my friends, I, the planner, always had an answer for them, though. One that became clearer and clearer as graduation loomed. “I’m going to be an editor,” I’d say. “No, not for newspapers or those online magazines, for books!” Soon it began to include working for my favorite publishing company (yes, I have one, don’t you?) and living with some of my best friends in Brooklyn or Queens. We didn’t plan which borough—we weren’t psychotic—but we did know exactly which pillows would be on our couch and that all of our kitchen utensils would be red. I was so confident that this plan would succeed, I even started a blog about post-graduate life in the city month in advance! It was like the age 12 plan round two—but this time I was so much older and wiser, I had to be right!—so you’d think I wouldn’t have been quite so surprised when once again, it didn’t come true. You might even think I would have gotten used to it. But perhaps the unpredictability of life isn’t something we’re meant to get used to. Maybe (like a bad plot) that would make life boring.
Anyway, life threw me a curveball. If you had told me six months ago that I would be currently living in New Orleans (that’s in Louisiana! I know, I still can’t believe it either); doing a job that has absolutely nothing to do with my publishing degree but I love anyway; and living in a cottage with a patio instead of a three bedroom apartment the size of a postage stamp; I would have looked at you like you had a second head. No one, and I mean no one, could have guessed that I would be trading in the fast, busy, invigorating pace of the East Coast for the slower, more appreciative, celebration of life that is the South. Seriously, when I told my grandparents their jaws dropped! The life I live now is nothing like what I planned—but I couldn’t be happier. Change is hard and scary (especially when moving to a new city that you’ve never even visited and where you know practically no one), but what amazed me—once I stopped kicking, screaming, and being overly anxious about everything—was how easily it came. In fact, the part that’s taken me the longest (aside from hanging stuff on my walls—which is just such a big commitment!) has been figuring out how to write a blog post that’s a little bit funny, a lot a bit true, not disgustingly cliché AND somehow changes the whole concept of the blog itself… So, how did I do?
I, for one, think I’ll take a break from planning for now (although now that this post is out of the way, YOU can plan to hear from me a lot more regularly). After all, I’ve learned that what they say is true: Man—no, wait—a college graduate plans, God laughs.