Musing on Plans and a Lack Thereof

Guest Post by Jennifer Kamish

When it comes to who I am, I have no illusions. I’m a girl with habits that need breaking, a heart that would fare better were it to remain tucked securely under my sleeve, and an arguably naïve perception of the world as a beautiful place.

I’ve never been good at keeping things — car keys, credit cards, a sense of self-worth in trying times.

I lose myself in paperback novels, strawberry ice cream, and people who make me smile.

And I used to think I had my life figured out.

Innately, I’m a planner. Growing up, I maintained a sense of control by figuring out the future eons in advance. I was the second grader who kept a Kaplan field guide to colleges on the bottom shelf of her locker. I was the middle school nerd who burst into tears when her sixth grade teacher told her school was getting out early, because she hadn’t arranged for a ride (although, as it so happened, Mr. Paris had been joking). I was the college student who concocted “party exit strategies” before even leaving the dorm.

Sure, there are distinct comforts to a life without impulse. When your best friend calls to tell you she has used every penny in her name to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in pursuit of a boy she’s never met, you can honestly say you’d never make that particular mistake.

But then there is the downside. You see, when you plan every aspect of your existence, you start to expect things to go according to your plan. I will grow up, go to college, get an incredible, high-paying job and settle down with the man of my dreams. After all, isn’t that what your parents have been telling you to do all along?

For a long time, I truly believed that this sentiment defined my fate. If I concentrated hard enough on finding a man, maybe my preference for female company would fade away. After all, everyone had always told me that my life would be what I made it, so why not make it go according to my plan?

Because, the 23-year-old voice in my head finally told me, when you don’t force things, that’s when they fall into place. When you go with the flow, that’s when the current changes in your favor. And for God’s sake, when you love someone more than anything, don’t screw it up by letting your urge to plan interfere with what’s important. And when it comes to the one you love, don’t let your anxiety be your excuse.

I could walk down the street, stop to pick a four-leaf clover from the grass, and find myself dead of a heart attack. I could ski straight into a tree and wind up paralyzed. The possibilities are endless, but living in constant fear of uncertainty doesn’t get you anywhere.

There are certain things I will never get right the first time. If nothing else, my past has taught me that. Hell, some things I won’t get right the first or second or third time (certain Boondoggle patterns and any recipe that includes the word “chicken” are my cases in point).

But that’s okay.

What you plan isn’t always what you want. For me, it has often been what I thought I was supposed to have. Why plan the future? Now, all I want is happiness for myself and happiness for the important people in my life, whatever form it may take.

So, here’s to happiness, free of structure, free of timeline, and completely devoid of expectation. Here’s to changes, here’s to chances, here’s to growth. Here’s to surprises. Here’s to uncertainty. Here’s to figuring it out as we go. Here’s to figuring it out as you go. Here’s to figuring it out as I go. Here’s to optimism, realism, and people who fall somewhere in between.

A very wise person once told me that relationships are about introducing yourself to your significant other over and over again, forever seeking to understand one another on a deeper level. And to this, there is no plan. To this, there is no end.