It’s the Future. What’s to Fear?

In the dauntless world of 2017, I’m facing down the future. I mean, it’s not even here, so how can it scare me?

Because the thing we don’t know is the one we fear the most.

Right?

I had complete confidence in my doctor when I had my surgery a few weeks ago. But I was a little uneasy about the whole idea of being put to sleep and waking up when it was all over.

Isn’t there a fine line between trust and stupidity?

Really, I was nervous because I’d never been under general anesthesia before. It was an unknown. Everyone could tell me all about how it happened for them (and believe me, none of them remember anything either. How do we know something crazy didn’t happen in that OR?), but I still wasn’t completely reassured.

Until I was prying open my eyelids and begging for ice chips in the recovery room.

Everything was over. It went according to plan. Nothing untoward was discovered.

Who was nervous? It wasn’t me.

Plans

I’m one of those people who makes plans. I outline the projects I’m going to work on and the vacations I want to take.

This makes me feel more comfortable about the future. I’ve got a handle on it now that there’s an inkling about what to expect.

Other people don’t want to plan because it raises their expectations. And then if things don’t turn out the way they planned, they get depressed or disillusioned.

Whatever floats your boat.

But if you know winter is coming and you don’t buy a heavy coat, who do you have to blame when you freeze your rear off at the bus stop?

Ignorance

Not everyone is all about planning for the future and setting goals. Maybe doing that makes them even more anxious.

But don’t swath yourself in garments of ignorance, as if tomorrow won’t come if you don’t think about it.

It’s coming. Time flows forward.

Isn’t it better to be prepared than caught unaware?

Do you fear the future? What about it makes you craziest?

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What do you want to do when you grow up?

When I first started school I wanted to be a teacher. Who wouldn’t want to boss everyone around? By fourth grade, I loved making up stories, so I decided I wanted to be a novelist. Later…solving mysteries seemed exciting, so how about becoming an FBI agent?

Like most kids, my thoughts about the future vacillated from one end of the realistic spectrum to the other end of unrealistic. Dreams are grand. Dreams inspire us to reach higher.

Dreams are dreams. Expectations are a 1000-pound weight on a tired swimmers back. Throw them into the sea of swarming high school students who think they know everything. Is it any wonder kids drown?

When you know your purpose

I wrote my first “book” when I was nine years old. I filled dozens of spiral notebooks with short stories, longer stories, poetry and general musings from that time until after I graduated from high school.

Writing has always helped me express my emotions and sort out my problems. It’s safer to bleed your secrets on a sheet of paper than divulge them to people. A pen ranting on notebook paper gets a person in much less trouble than a verbal confrontation.

My yearning has always been to write. I used that yearning to write copy for a non-profit newsletter, lessons for classes I taught at church, and plays and skits for the youth group to perform.

I submitted a few stories to contests when I was younger. Tried my hand at writing articles and even wrote a novel. Rejection letters deterred me. My family needed me to be present in the moment rather than rattling around my make-believe worlds.

Most people don’t know what they want to do until they’re at least in high school. Some people don’t discover their “calling” until the age of 40, 50 or beyond.

If you’re 18 and don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, big deal. Don’t decide you won’t grow up until you do know. Follow a path. Experiment with different things. Purposelessness has a purpose when you’re using it as a barometer.

How to find your purpose

Some people volunteer at the animal shelter and they know they want to be a veterinarian. Others volunteer at the veterinarian office and decide they love animals, but doctoring the four-legged creatures isn’t how to express it.

The only way to find your niche is by doing. Try sports. Try theater. Try writing for the school newspaper (I did). Sing in the choir. Play in the band. Sell lemonade and deliver newspapers.

My oldest son found out he didn’t want a manual labor job after he worked at one for the summer. It inspired him to work hard in school so he could go to college. How did he know he wanted to be a computer programmer? You’ll have to ask him. His dad is and he always wanted to follow that path. Go figure.

My husband went to college to be an electrician. Yep and he ended up as a computer engineer. Electrical engineer or computer engineer. Slight difference, right? He’s been happy with the choice.

Some people like to do many different things. That could mean they would be happy in multiple fields. It might involve tons of experimentation before they find the right fit. Don’t give up. Keep trying.

You never know until you try. Words to live by – just saying.

What stands in the way

Let’s face it, when you’re a teenager, plenty of things stand in the way of finding out your genuine heart’s calling.

A short list:

  • Teachers: you know the one’s I’m talking about “You’re the best artist I’ve had in years”
  • Parents: “Writing? But what will your day job be?” “You’re going to take over the family business, right?”
  • Friends: “You should go to Western because I’m going there.”
  • Money: You either have it or you don’t. Don’t let that limit your vision.
  • Locale: If you live a million miles from nowhere, it’s hard to know if you’d like a career in the city or some other more urbanized setting.
  • Other nay-sayers: “What can you do with a degree in history?” “If you don’t go to college, you’ll never amount to anything.”

What other things have you heard that made it difficult to find your true calling? If you have advice or experience, please share it in the comments.