No plan, no problem

Expectations for youth to have a designated plan for their futures is unrealistic

Story by Anna Grace Jones, staff writer

To be trapped in a sense of uncertainty or instability can be one of the most stressful feelings. The constant state of confusion and lack of control never seems to disappear. If the game isn’t being played in your favor, the sensation begins to fester and grow. To be unsure and to not have a plan for your future has developed a negative connotation in a time when everything is supposed to be premeditated. It is often played off as a weakness when, in fact, it can be your greatest strength.

From the beginning of their education, children are introduced to the idea of knowing what they want to be when they grow up. It’s a simple question, but it lays the foundation for an unrealistic standard that adolescents are expected to reach. They go through this process of repeatedly being asked to plan for futures when they barely have a plan for tomorrow.

The situation worsens as students get older. We are expected to make decisions that could have a significant impact on our success or failure. Classes, colleges, standardized testing, career paths and employment prospects are only a few of the burdens continually placed on the shoulders of bewildered students. Expectations are rising in a constantly modernized world, and the youth are losing their time to be young, carefree and spontaneous because of the pressures of their approaching adulthood.  

Teenagers, as a demographic, are only beginning to understand themselves and their reality, so expecting them to thoroughly plan for something they know so little about is not feasible.

We are expected to make decisions that could have a significant impact on our success or failure.”

— Jones

Despite the fear accompanying the unknown, there are substantial benefits. Not having a detailed itinerary for the rest of your life means you have no limitations. There isn’t an ever-present box from which you cannot step out. There is only freedom and endless opportunity. You can live your life without wondering if you are straying too far from the designated path. You have the chance to wander without regret, something that not many people can do.

Some may argue the case that having aspirations for the future and working toward them is the same as having a structured procedure that is intently followed. However, there is a difference between plans and goals. A plan is restricting and set without room for evolution. In contrast, a goal is something to strive toward that is able to develop and change as a person grows and moves forward.

The idea of truly knowing what is to come and what life has to offer is only a facade crumbling at the base. There is no way of predicting the future or seeing life’s right hook before it takes you down. But standing up and realizing that you don’t have everything figured out and that it’s okay not to is the first step. It’s the first step to escaping the overbearing sense of uncertainty and molding it into the source of strength that it can be. You are not confined to the road that you set out on. You can deviate, roam and return if you choose, but it is your choice and you alone are in control.