As a relatively recent college graduate, I have struggled with various aspects of “adulthood”. First of all, after graduation was the first time in my life that I didn’t have the next part of my life planned out. Growing up, I always had a plan regarding my next steps in life. The first 22 years of my life were pretty set in stone for me. Daycare -> elementary school -> middle school -> high school -> college. Then, at 22 years old, I came to the sudden realization that the only thing I knew for sure in the moment I was graduating was where I was living for approximately the next 11 months and where I was going to be working. I had no plan for the following year or 5 years or 10 years down the road.

Naturally, I decided that I needed to start planning something since I am so used to knowing what the future holds. I kept trying to figure how I could plan my future and what I could or should be planning. I was faced with difficulties though since there is no way to precisely plan out a career path or the next few years of my life. I remember watching an episode of the tv show Friends about a year or two ago and one of the episodes really resonated with me. It went something like this…

In “The One Where They All Turn Thirty” (Season 7, Episode 14), I vividly remember Rachel beginning to freak out and worry about the fact that she was turning the big 3-0. She started getting in her head and then, after a lot of freaking out, she came up with a life plan, which was supposed to make her feel better about herself. Long story short, even though she wanted to have her first kid by the time she was 35, which was 5 years away, she then she proceeded to back-calculate at what age she would need to get pregnant, get married, and meet her future spouse. She started to freak out because she calculated that she needed to have met the person she will marry by that moment, and then she realized that her current boyfriend was not exactly who she wanted to marry.

After watching this episode, I was both laughing and subtly reflecting on my own life. I realized that I had similar thoughts run through my head on previous occasions. I’ve had moments where I would obsess so much about planning my life, that I might be missing out on the special moments that happen in the present.

The lack of clarity about what the future will bring and when various life events will happen can be frightening, especially for someone who likes to have the future planned out and who is more comfortable with the known, than the unknown. However, after a lot of reflection and reading more books lately (which help me focus on the present and help calm me down), I have found that the lack of clarity about the future can also be a beautiful thing. Having completed the chapter of my life focused on education and now moving on to the chapter focused on career development, I am amazed of the many different paths that my friends and college classmates took after college.

Many of my friends moved away to new states across the U.S. and some even moved to new countries. While I am so happy for those of my friends who are experiencing a completely new city and “adventuring”, (some of us millennials like to call EVERYTHING we do an adventure 😉 ), this also left me feeling confused. Was I supposed to move away to live in a completely new area too? Where would I really LOVE to live? These questions plagued my mind and sometimes continue to do so. I switch between feeling like “I really love where I currently live and the new experiences I’ve had” and “I’d like to explore a new place for myself”. If any of you reading this ever feel the same way, TRUST ME, I know how you feel!

So, I decided that instead of getting so in my head, I would do two things to help me focus on the present stage of my life and appreciate where I am right now, and not worry so much about the future. The first thing I decided to do was promise to myself that instead of wondering what it would be like to live elsewhere, I will explore the area I live in now as much as I can, since I have found that there are many, many museums, parks, activities, etc, that I have yet to experience in and around Washington D.C.

The second thing I decided to do, and what I will focus on in the rest of this post, is to start reading for pleasure more often.  If I started reading more, maybe I could find books that would help me learn new things and calm down some of my nervous energy. Searching through Amazon for new books to read, I came across a book called “The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself”. At first glance, this book caught my eye; it seemed different. It offered a unique perspective on the mind, consciousness, and how individuals view the world, which were all things that I have not given much thought to in the past.

I decided to read the book, since it received many excellent reviews and it seemed like a great book to learn something new from. As I read through the book on my Kindle, I ended up taking note of many powerful quotations that I read, since I wanted to refer back to them in the future, when I may be in frustration or pain. The book discusses how to live in the present and intentionally choose to be happy each and every day. Although I found many quotations from the book to be powerful, the following was one of my favorites:

You gain nothing by being bothered by life’s events. It doesn’t change the world; you just suffer. There’s always going to be something that can bother you, if you let it.”   

I encourage you to check out the book if you are interested in learning more about consciousness and how we can learn to pursue each day with the intent of making it a good and happy one. If you’re not interested in the book, I do challenge you to a small task…

Next time you are having a great day, or are in a great mood, and you let something like being cut off in traffic ruin your mood and maybe even the rest of your day, I just ask that you ask yourself why you got so upset and if there is any benefit to being upset. Don’t let a stranger driver in traffic take your good mood away from you! 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Focusing on the Present

  1. Hi Marta! 🙂 I just graduated from college about two months ago so sooo much of this resonates with me. I have friends who are headed off to do everything from teaching in France, to starting graduate school, to using prestigious fellowships. While I don’t even have a job yet! It’s definitely a journey to learn to be okay with not knowing what the future will bring.

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    1. Hi Claire! Thanks for reading! 🙂 I’m glad you could relate. I think after college its easy to think we are alone in feeling certain things, but in reality lots of us are going through the same thing. It’s frightening but also a bit exciting to know that the future is unknown.

      Like

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