I purged my contact list last night. And not because of any particular event; more out of sheer boredom and concern over accidentally butt-dialing someone I hadn’t talked to since high school. I expected the contact list cleanse to be therapeutic. You know: out with the old, in with the new. Or that idea of spring cleaning, a foreign concept to a slob like me.
What I didn’t expect was how frustrated and bitter I became in the process. I mean, we’re talking my mood went from a 10 to a 3 in about five minutes. It seemed like the more I scrolled, the deeper I sunk into this hole of negativity.
And that hole felt familiar. I remembered feeling the same way a year ago, unbeknownst to just about everyone around me. I felt like I was at the bottom of a deep hole with only the company of anxiety, hopelessness, and confusion.
I tried to blame my poor state of mind on other people and on circumstances beyond my control. Like many others, I preferred examining external factors over internal. It was a lot easier to look at the outside world than actually delve into my inner psyche.
But once I did, I discovered the main cause of all those negative feelings. It was something I had been doing all of my life, something that brought – and still brings – me enjoyment. It was planning. Well, it was actually what happens when planning feels futile, when your game plan goes astray.
I had spent hours and hours and hours in high school and college planning what my life would be like. I took dozens of career quizzes to write my future – in pen, not pencil. I even used cost of living calculators to determine how much I could spend on rent, utilities, and food each month. Looking back now, I feel confident in saying I was obsessed with planning my future.
However, even with all that time and effort, I still neglected to plan for one element of my future: that it could change. I didn’t take into account that life has a way of not going the way you expected, that you can’t always control variables that will affect your future. You can draw up some plays, but you may not run them. You may have to run an audible.
And that’s what I’m doing with my life now: running audibles. I’ll be honest, it’s still kind of scary to not have a complete game plan – what kind of career I’ll have, where I’ll live, whom I’ll love – but, contrary to what I felt last year, it’s also really exciting.
In the process of cleaning up my contact list, I had the opportunity to reflect on how my life has changed in the past year. My life still isn’t perfect, but I’ve learned it doesn’t have to be and, no matter how much I plan, I won’t always be able to make my life perfect. Those doses of imperfection make life make life interesting. They make me appreciate when life goes right.