college & career, lifestyle

Look Around, Not Ahead.

There are few things I dread more than the question “so what’s your major?” I would honestly give my right arm to never hear that question again, probably because my answer changes every time I am asked. It seems like everyone and their step-grandma has an opinion on what I should do with my life and especially what I shouldn’t do with it. Art major? You’ll never get a job. Special Education? Ha! Good luck with the public school system! Social Work? That would be great if there wasn’t a thing called bills you have to worry about when you get into the real world. It seems like everything I decide on is met with criticism or a shaky-voiced, “well that’s… nice!” So, what do you do when everyone has an opinion about your future and you have no idea what yours is?

The year after high-school is met with so many brand new things. When you’re learning so many new things about yourself and the world, it’s hard not to change your mind on what your plan is, especially when you never really had a sure-fire plan to begin with. It’s also hard when everyone around you has a specially designed box they want to stuff you into. I was always going to be a songwriting major. I was going to go to Belmont, major in songwriting, and live my life in Nashville in an aesthetically pleasing studio apartment with my poet husband and hypoallergenic cat. That was going to be my life. Until life actually happened. I’m not at Belmont, songwriting is not my major, or even an option where I am, and I change my mind on my future every week. But you know what? I’m learning to be okay with not having a plan.

Everyone has plans for their future. Heck, as five-year-olds the first question we are asked in kindergarten is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We are taught from a very young age to always look ahead to the next thing. Elementary school kids can’t wait to be the big middle schoolers, and middle schoolers can’t wait to be in high school. High schoolers can’t wait to have a car, then turn 18, then go to college, then graduate college, then get a job, then get married, etc. We are programmed to always be looking ahead, never looking around. And if you think about it, that is so incredibly, incredibly sad. We are never told to be content. We are always supposed to be getting ready for the next part, but the next part is really just getting ready for the next.

Everyone has hopes and dreams and picture perfect boxes they’ve made for themselves. But even those that reach those goals end up feeling unfulfilled unless they’re following the path the Lord has lain ahead of them. Proverbs 16:9 says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” I have heard this verse 1,000 times, but here I am, a plan-less college freshman, and I am finally beginning to understand what that means.

We can plan all we want, but ultimately, we have no idea what is going to happen to us. We have no idea what our future holds. Being responsible is one thing, but making plans that leave no room for the Lord is another thing entirely. I think the real question is, what do you want to be? What do you want to be now? Right now, in this very moment? Because all life is is a bunch of little moments that are glued together to make a life, and the only thing we are guaranteed is right now. This moment. So why waste that moment worrying about what tomorrow will look like?

Notice how this verse says that the Lord establishes our steps. It doesn’t say the Lord establishes our lives or our future or our destination, but our steps. Because steps are where the real living lies. The steps are a journey to a destination, but what if the steps are the destination? What if we don’t have to wait to graduate or get married or have children or get a raise to be happy? What if we rejoiced in the steps? How different our lives would be if we would just take a minute to look around instead of looking ahead.

It’s hard not knowing what your future holds. I know I am not the only one who is feeling this way, and you don’t have to be in college to feel like you just have no idea what your next step is. But I hope I can encourage you the same way the Lord has encouraged me in saying you do not have to know, because He knows. If you rest in knowing it is not in your hands, you are able to rejoice in the steps, because really, the steps are the best part.

words by Claire Prather and photo by Clara Espe

I am a freshman in college who has no idea what she’s doing. I love writing, music, hiking, fashion, and people. My whole life goal is to pursue others intentionally, love radically, and be completely and totally present in every situation.

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