It’ll All Work Out (Eventually)

A million years ago, when I was a freshman at Stoughton High School, I distinctly remember the type of admiration I had for seniors.
Clearly-stated majors and large collections of crewnecks featuring colleges I had never heard of assured me that they knew everything. I thought that even though I was lost now, in four years I would definitely know—just as they did—what my plans for the future would be.
As I began to reach the beginning of the end of my time at SHS, I suddenly came to a terrifying conclusion—I don’t know what I’m doing. I had this unrealistic expectation that I should know about absolutely everything I wanted to achieve in the future, all organized in a color-coordinated spreadsheet.
This was not the case.
After coming to this realization, I was paralyzed. I didn’t feel prepared to suddenly take on the burden of determining my future, and if I didn’t do it perfectly, what was the point of doing it at all? At the same time, it felt as if everyone around me was moving, with perfectly laid-out intentions and plans.
However, as time went on, meetings with teachers, family inquiries, and increasingly desperate college emails forced me to grapple with the fact that I couldn’t run away from my future anymore. Instead, I had to face it head-on, even if it wasn’t as ideal as I expected it to be.
A few weeks later, when I clicked the button to submit my early application to colleges and digital confetti popped up on the screen, I felt a strange form of relief.
Although my application was not flawless, I knew it was the best way to achieve my goals given my circumstances.
Throughout this time in my life, I have also gained more insight into others. As I talk about my experiences with other seniors, I realize more and more that I was not the only one who felt like this. I feel like too many people are waiting for a moment when everything will come together—a moment that will never come— and they end up missing out.
This isn’t just pertaining to post-graduate plans, I have seen this perfectionism-based avoidance occur in my and others’ day-to-day lives far too often.
Although I have told myself the opposite for most of my life, it’s okay to not know exactly what you are doing right now. In reality, it’s quite unlikely that you will know what you are going to do for the rest of your life at a time when your brain isn’t fully developed.
However, just because a situation is not ideal or does not match your expectations, does not mean that you should give it up. Although it may be difficult at first, you might need to find another way to take such situations on, while letting go of unrealistic expectations.
Whether it’s getting a start on your personal essay in the CommonApp, applying for that internship, or just going out in the world to figure out your passions, don’t lose too much precious time waiting for that perfect moment that realistically, will never occur.
Showing up imperfectly is much more valuable than not showing up at all.