January 26, 2022

The Problem with Obsessing over Planning every Detail of our Lives.

“By the age of 28, I want to have a stable job, be able to travel at least once a year, and get my PhD.”

It might sound too ambitious to some and doable to others. But I truly, honestly, and ardently believed I should and would have done all of those things by the age of 28. And I would have called myself a loser if I didn’t do it by that time.

Well, I’m turning 28 in a couple of weeks, and I can safely say I have a whole road in front of me.

The only thing I didn’t exactly plan to do (which is quite shameful in my culture) is to be married by then, but it’s because I was never someone who would settle for anyone just to be married at a certain age. And fortunately, I was able to meet the person I want to spend the rest of my life with…without any planning. At. All.

Back from the tangent, once I graduated from school, I started planning my life for the next 10 years. I enrolled as an architecture student at the university; I looked for part-time jobs in case I lost the scholarship I got just to have a backup plan; I started working on my own projects to gather experience in my field.

And guess what happened?

I dropped out a year later. Turns out, I hate architecture. It’s a cool art and requires talent, and I possess talent related to art but not the patience it requires to abide by all the rules of structure and physics. I wanted to draw madly, without rules. I wanted to show portraits of people in my mind, not buildings with straight lines and plans.

And that’s when I finally surrendered to the fact that I wanted to major in English literature. I drifted from the path I drew for myself at the beginning, and I couldn’t have made a better decision.

Then, I started working at a company in my country, and it was a great boost for my career. It had everything to do with educational content analysis and literature itself, but it was something that I wanted to do only for a short period of time before delving into teaching at universities because I simply adore academia.

I stayed there for three whole years.

I applied to study masters in England and got accepted but didn’t get the scholarship, so I couldn’t go there because it was way too expensive for me. So, I continued my masters at the university in Lebanon, and that’s when I met the love of my life.

I planned to have my PhD by the age of 28, but things went downhill in my country, and it became nearly impossible to go for a post-graduate program (either here or abroad) without selling everything I owned. And it still wouldn’t be enough.

Point being, I still don’t know when this started, but it’s been deeply engrained in my brain that planning is an essential part of life.

And it is. But not to the point of obsession.

We are gifted the intelligence and freedom to choose our own path, but sometimes, God, or the universe, or whomever/whatever you believe in has other plans.

By planning, we often try to avoid walking into a thick wall that we can’t seem to break. But sometimes, that wall will be there so we can drift into a different direction and walk in a better path.

I, personally, cannot get rid of my anxiety and tendency to have everything under control, but at some point, I realized that I’m really not in complete control of everything in my life.

I don’t believe anyone is.

Sometimes, the company we work for might go bankrupt.

Sometimes, a whole f*cking pandemic starts, and it’s impossible to visit the country we’ve been longing to see.

Sometimes, we are not in the best stage in our lives to meet the one.

Sometimes, we are forced to walk a different path.

Sometimes, it’s just not the right time.

And sometimes, what we think is the best for us might be the worst thing that could ever happen.

In this dance of uncertainty that we call life, it is good to work toward our goals, but we can’t give up or lose hope if something we’ve planned for doesn’t work out. It is probably a nudge for us to move on to something else, or maybe, it’s something that’ll help us grow in a way.

I am still trying to navigate that state of mind, still trying to let things flow without obsessively struggling to keep everything under my own control.

The only thing we are responsible for is being smart about our decisions and being ready when things don’t go our way.

And if things don’t work out the way we planned, remember that it’s okay.


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