BY MIA ARCINIEGAS / STAFF WRITER
In these last few weeks, I have spent much more time thinking about my future than I would have liked. Yes, you read that right. As you might have read in a previous article of mine titled “Achieving Presentness and Focus in the Digital Age,” I bring up some thoughts about remaining present in the moment. Building on some of the points I mention in the aforementioned article, I want to share why I don’t like thinking beyond a few months into the future.
Firstly, and without getting into too much detail, I had no choice but to think about the future in this past month, as I had to decide which school I wanted to fulfill my graduate studies at this upcoming Fall. After trying to forecast every possible outcome and envisaging my life in the Fall, I realized how much I was neglecting my present. I was hyper-fixating on the fine details about what city I would end up in, leaving home, the dangers of living alone as a woman in a foreign place, groceries, commuting, etc. Anxiety took over my life, especially as the possibility that I might not get into the school I originally intended to go to might be a reality.
My expectations were challenged, to say the least, because I assumed the probability of future outcomes while only possessing knowledge of the present. Typically, I operate on the basis that we are only ever in the present. Even when we talk about getting to a certain place, all we will ever feel is the present moment: this is all we can be sure of—what’s going on right now. This is why I feel safest when I’m only thinking about the present. As I am typing, I am in the present, but I am also in the future of where I was a few seconds ago, a week ago, and a year ago, all at once. As students, it is easy to be intimidated thinking about what we’re doing after our degrees, often getting asked by our peers, families, and mentors: “what are your plans after graduation?”. While some of us might have a good idea of what we’re doing “after,” the truth is that nothing is certain. Why is it less common to be asked: “How are you feeling about where you are now?”.
In summary, when I plan less and have little to no expectations, the outcome of a “future” event is often quite satisfying. I am lucky enough to be pleasantly surprised when I have thought less about something regardless of whatever the news I am awaiting may be, as it has already exceeded my (undaunting) expectations. While my perspective might seem extreme to some, my hope for those that read this is not that you’ll “stop” thinking about the future but to perhaps offer a new strategy to circumvent the angst surrounding the future.
Follow what offers you the least resistance.
It is okay to take your time.
Right now, you’re doing just fine.