If you know me, you know that I like to plan things—yes, I even like trying to plan out my future even if I know I’m going to change that within good time. But as I spent the end of my senior year doing things I wasn’t expecting to do and have now moved back home to a new job that I wasn’t expecting to land, I need to acknowledge something I think a lot of people are struggling with.
Every time we make plans, they change; either that or as all the plans we want to make are no longer possible/safe/necessary the way we thought them to be. Between the fast-paced news headlines and people with plenty of questions, a lot of us are not sure where we stand with what’s going on around us anymore.
Our priorities keep shifting. Things are changing so quickly that we don’t have enough time to catch up and decide how we feel about it, settle in, and make new plans before it all changes again.
Right now what I’m saying might feel very large but let me put it in a smaller context. You might know this story, but maybe not the whole thing:
In my senior year of high school, I spent the year compiling my poetry—at least the decent work—from over six years into a manuscript. It took me nine months to pull the manuscript together, finalize edits, collect illustrations, and confirm prints or modifications before my book was finally self-published and out by the end of June. It was out right after graduation.
To say this was an incredible accomplishment for me at the time is an understatement; it was something I had wanted to do for a long time and a book I held in my hands with my own name on it by eighteen felt indescribable. I knew then that while the poems weren’t perfect and the book was the epitome of trial and error for me, it was something I had worked and planned for.
Everything within that book marked a time period of early adolescence that I wanted to be bound together because after high school, I knew things would change and I would not be the same person. It was a milestone achievement in more ways than one. Because when I held that first book, I made a new plan; I would publish a second volume—this time, Live, Laugh, Love Like a Young Adult—after I graduated from college. I wanted that second major period of growth within my life to be bound together as well. I wanted to see who came out on the other side of that book.
You see, the plan was all fine and dandy, it’s just that a plan is no good if the work and months of editing/compiling etc. doesn’t follow with it.
I hadn’t planned for so many major events in college to derail my, well, my plans. Ironic isn’t it? Even while I’ve written so much about every one of those events and the girl that has walked through the last four years, somehow a lack of balance in knowing how to handle it all stopped me from actually pushing to self-publish that second volume. It’s not that the writing isn’t done, it’s just that the manuscript isn’t pulled together.
I’ve only done half the work. Do you remember what I said about doing that last week?
Because that’s where we’re all struggling; no, I don’t mean that we’re all trying to self-publish volumes of poetry. We all have plans that have only made it halfway through the gate. At a certain point, whether it was the pandemic or a change of heart or something else entirely, something got in the way.
I made a plan to self-publish even when I knew I might change my mind just like in high school, I made plans to go med school or to go to Howard knowing that things could change—surprise surprise, they did.
What I didn’t plan for were the health scares and career aspiration changes and all the other life things that happen along the way. I know I definitely didn’t plan to not walk across a stage to graduate or to be able to have all the internship opportunities I was hoping for in NYC.
Instead, I’m back home in my parents’ house, grateful to have a job and taking things from there. As I do, I’m also remembering that the world will not mold to my expectations just because of the goals or the hopes that I have or because I think I deserve it. The only thing I can control right now is myself and the responsibility I take for my own actions.
So, I’m making new plans. I’m taking a look at the manuscript I started, figuring out what it’ll take to finish off internship applications for remote positions, and I’m taking whatever control back that I can. More than anything, I’m taking responsibility for myself and my actions and I’m making plans that fit with the world right now— if they change again tomorrow, so be it.
We will handle that when we get there. I hope that maybe, you have some new plans to keep too. See you next week.