Sep 18, 2014, 09:24AM

The Future Doesn't Have to Be Scary

Just take it day by day.

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There are a lot of unknowns in our lives. What we'll end up doing tomorrow, whether or not we might be allergic to some new food, how someone honestly feels about us, if the blue of my pants actually matches the blue of my shirt. Most aspects of our lives are unknown, something that will never change, and we spend a significant amount of our time fretting about it.

It's okay to worry about things—it's even a little bit smart—but often we feel inclined to take our apprehension to the next step. To move from casual concern about the results our choices may yield to panic and obsession over things that not only have yet to happen, but might not ever happen. It's easy to fall into this trap—I've been teetering on the edge since I've graduated from college—but it's worth noting that it’s a pointless, energy-sapping waste of time.

It's important to remember that it's not just you. Nobody has any idea what's going to happen. Even the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, working to precisely project where their companies will be both fiscally and physically within the next five years, have no genuine idea of what's going to happen an hour from now, or tomorrow, or in a year. There could be a scandal just waiting to uproot their meticulous attention to hypothetical details, an unexpected advancement by a competitor that renders them outdated or a faulty screw in the show-model of their newest product.

You can't plan for a zit that shows up on picture day, or your lucky tank-top getting dyed pink in the wash. You can write down a detailed plan of what colleges you'll apply to and why, but you can't plan for one offering the most useful scholarship, or your top pick deciding it no longer wants to offer the major you'd be interested in. You can barely plan what you'd like to eat in the morning, let alone more important things.

Everyone, even the people you look up to, are as clueless about their tomorrows. We're all equals in that regard, and while the notion of "not knowing" may seem terrifying, that terror is rooted in baseless anxiety. I think it's sort of poetic. We don't know where we're going, regardless of what we tell people, and a lot of the time we don't even know what we're doing. The directions we meander in are results of our decisions, but it's not as if we get to decide what opportunities are presented to us, or what ideals we're instilled with growing up. We're all products of a conglomeration of events that we had no say in, and that's what we'll continue to be.

What's more, the future doesn't have to be frightening. It should be exciting, a void of endless potential and possibility, a blank book that we can hope to be filled in with happiness and success. In the same way that we don't know if we're going to trip in front of a crowded room, or fail that next test, we also don't know if someone we like is going to express similar feelings for us next Thursday, or if we're going to spend 20 minutes doubled over in laughter a half hour from now. We simply can't focus on the negative of what comes with "not knowing."


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