Friday, April 26, 2019

Plans vs. Reality

When I was in college, a friend once told me she hated making big plans.  Her reasoning was if she made plans, and then they DIDN'T work out, the expectations she created in her head wouldn't be met, so she would be disappointed and sad.  I thought this was pretty deep coming from a 19-year-old.

I also remember thinking it was kind of depressing.

I love making plans.  In fact, I think I thrive on it.  When we first started dating, I remember my husband saying that dating me was causing him to "plan ahead" more than he ever had in his life.  I remember laughing and making some joke about how I've always been "type A."

But lately, I keep thinking back to the outlook of my college friend... and wondering if she was right.

I recently thought something positive was going to happen to me, and it didn't.  In fact, I was so sure this positive thing was going to happen, that I made other plans BASED on the fact that it would happen.  And worse yet, I shared these plans with other people.  Now not only do I feel like I didn't deliver on a promise that I made, I am (to quote my friend) "disappointed and sad."

And yes, yes.  "Don't count your chickens before they hatch."  I've heard that idiom, I understand that idiom... I just can't seem to APPLY it.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I made all these plans in my head about what type of parent I was going to be be.  And, big surprise, none of these plans involved being so exasperated with your favorite 7-year-old that you end up shouting over something stupid.  Falling short of my expectations of motherhood makes me disappointed and sad.

When I was studying journalism in college, I made all kinds of plans.  Where I wanted to live, what type of writing I wanted to do, the types of organizations I wanted to work for.  None of those plans included my current "stay at home mom" gig.  Sometimes when I think about my current career prospects, and how they don't match up with the plans I made, I am disappointed and sad.

So where does that leave me?  I'm not sure I have the ability to STOP making plans.  I have some "fly by the seat of their pants" friends, and honestly?  They give me anxiety.

Maybe I need to start viewing my plans as more of a road map.  They can give me a sense of direction, but they need to allow for detours.  They can give me an overview of  my journey, but I'll still need to allow for an unexpected pothole or construction zone that might slow me down.

What is it that my GPS says when I make a wrong turn?  Recalculating? Maybe that's it.  I'll keep making plans.  I'll just work on being more open to "recalculation" along the way. 

Want to read more of my work?  Check out my essay "Mrs. Norton's Daughter" in WILL WORK FOR APPLES, the latest in the New York Times best-selling I JUST WANT TO PEE ALONE anthology series.  

Click here to get your copy today!

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