Viewpoint: Uncertainty is all part of plan

By Ashley Yeaman

I guess it’s just part of being a senior, but as soon as people find out you’re in that fourth year of school, they inevitably ask, “What are your plans after graduation?”

I clam up every time I hear this question because I have no idea how to answer it.

I started out with something vague and safe, usually something like, “I’ll probably go to graduate school.” After all, I didn’t really want to pin myself down to one particular profession or field when in reality I didn’t have a clue.

But of course, that made it seem as though I didn’t have any plans at all for the future.

I could see in people’s eyes surprise and confusion. How could I not have a clearly defined plan of action for the “next chapter” in my life?

Of course, they don’t really say that. They just smile, nod their head and say something like, “You have plenty of time to figure it out.”

But I’m feeling the pressure. Should I start applying for graduate schools, and if so, which ones? Maybe I should start looking at job opportunities? Will I stay in Waco or move somewhere else?

So many questions and no answers.

I’ve always been a little jealous of those who have a perfectly crafted answer, those whose major translates into a career. You know these people. They’ve known exactly what they’ve wanted to do since they’ve been in elementary school.

Sadly, I wasn’t one of those kids. My answer to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” changed every year. My responses ranged from beautician and architect to meteorologist and novelist.

But it was okay, because I’d figure out all that stuff when I was grown.

But here I am at 21, with interests almost as scattered as those from my childhood, illustrated through my two majors and two minors. (Yes, I know I’m insane.)

We come to college to gain knowledge and find answers, but really, there are many things we’re perfectly content with not knowing.

Things like the name of that student sitting in your class, or that new song playing in a restaurant or even mundane facts.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know these things, because modern technology can help you have the answer in a matter of seconds.

Chances are you can find out that student’s name on Facebook. Pull out your iPhone and Shazam can tell you who sings that song and what it’s called. And anything can be googled.

The answers are out there, quite literally at your fingertips.

We take comfort in knowing that fact, so it’s especially uncomfortable when we don’t have the answers.

But really, who knows what the future holds for them, even those who “know” exactly what they want to do with their lives?

If there was a way you could see your future, would you really want to?

Some days, I might say yes. It would be nice to have some answers to where I’m going in life.

But there’s something to be said about not knowing, too.

Not knowing allows us to be pleasantly surprised. Our life may go in directions we could have never planned or imagined.

Not knowing allows us to make mistakes. On the surface, this seems like a bad thing, but some of the greatest lessons in life can be learned through failure. Opportunities and worthwhile experiences can surface in these situations that you might not have put yourself in if you had “known” about them beforehand.

Not knowing is really our natural state. Only one truly knows our future.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.”

I take comfort knowing that someone immeasurably more knowledgeable than I has my future planned out.

So if you’ve known what you’ve wanted to do since you were in elementary school, or if it’s easy for you to answer the question “What are your plans after graduation?” that’s great.

But if you’re like me, and have no idea, that’s OK, too.

Ashley Yeaman is a senior journalism and anthropology major from Teague and is a reporter for the Lariat.