(Hit those chill jamz!)
“So, what are you gonna do next?”
It’s the question that every high-school senior detests, and it’s the bane of pretty much every millennial. It’s the question that has the uncanny ability to send a seemingly confident and “put together” person into a frenzy of doubt and panic. It’s the question that makes people change their major five times and probably consider quitting school altogether. Even as you’re reading this now, you might feel your heart quicken a little bit… I picture myself in that all too common situation: Being asked this question by an unknowing relative and feeling absolutely crushed by expectation.
Why does the future scare us so much?
A friend and I were having a conversation about this touchy subject a while back, and her response to this question left me chuckling but also rather speechless: “I’m currently overwhelmed by the infinite possibilities of this life… but, people and politics, I guess?” It’s massively important for us to be aware this: We’re almost afraid to succeed. By succeeding in something, in our minds, it means that we are then unable to succeed in other areas by the confinement of our title or responsibility. That’s false. You’re likely gonna have many jobs, doing many different things throughout life — starting something is the most important part of all of that. Even if it changes down the road and it’s not “your thing” anymore, wonderful… but you must decide to do something today. *Rant over* Man, I love talking about this stuff! But, that’s not what we’re talking about today. Sort of…
Now, it’s important for you to understand that I’m a believer in the best possible outcome amidst adverse circumstances. There’s no shortage of optimism running thorough my blood, and I believe that there’s nothing in life that you cannot overcome, including your fear of the future. But, I’m also a believer in wisdom. My idealist mentality has constantly been at war with reality, and as much as I’ve hesitated to do so, I realize now that it’s absolutely necessary to acknowledge reality in order to plan for the future.
So, I made a plan! …Which is actually a huge deal, if you’re familiar with my tendency to change plans last minute and flounder around in the spontaneity of the day to day. The plan goes something like this:
- Figure out what I want to do.
- Find people who already do what I wanna do.
- Learn all of the things about what I wanna do from said people.
- Implement said things into life and work really dang hard at it.
- Do the thing that I wanna do.
So, I started the process. My answer to step one is Creative Director. I dunno exactly in what capacity or where or how, but I needed to give myself something to shoot for, and now I can get moving. Step two and three for me are underway… I’ve already met with three current creative directors, all from different walks of life and status, and I intend to make that number much larger in the near future. If you wanna know how I got to meet them… I just sent them an email. It’s actually shockingly easy to get in contact with “important” people, you just gotta do it. One of those guys is the Creative Director for Publix, and he told me something that I wanna tell you today.
I met him very early in the morning for coffee, since that was the only brief bit of time that he had free in his day — he’s one of those “important” people that I mentioned. Right away, I could tell that he’s an awesome guy. Very well dressed, sweet hard-rimmed tortoise glasses, a great cologne that I knew I recognized, and a very kind, gentle demeanor that was apparent even as he ordered his coffee from the barista. I decided that if nothing else, I wanted to be this guy’s friend. I got a drip coffee, he got an espresso, and we sat down to talk. We exchanged pleasantries for a bit, asking about family life, mutual friends (we actually attend the same church…?), interests, and a few other topics of smalltalk. After a proper acquainting, I began to ask him some questions regarding his job. I brought a notebook with questions already written down — he was very impressed. I would highly recommend doing that in meetings, if you don’t already (millennials, talking to you).
As I heard his responses, I was super encouraged and inspired… I was getting decades of stories and lessons and wisdom, all in an hour long chat with a stranger. I had saved my favorite question for last, as I expected his answer to be elaborate or profound, requiring a bit of time to think about it. And so, I asked him the question, “If you had to give one piece of advice to yourself at my age, twenty-one, what would it be?” He sat there for a few seconds… and as if he’d known I’d ask him all along, he said without hesitation, “Prepare for opportunity.”
He proceeded to tell me about how he started in screen printing for Publix over thirty-five years ago, very unsure of the direction of his career. His interests were all over the place: football, art, barbering, cooking, travel, etc. He didn’t really know what he wanted to do with his life, and so, he got a job at Publix doing one of the things that he loved. And as he moved up in management, also developing an entire creative branch of Publix that had not previously existed, he came to realize that many of his other interests were being fulfilled and utilized. Those things that he thought were pointless to learn about were suddenly shaping the way that he lead people; those talents that weren’t paying the bills at the start of his career were then yielding huge rewards at this later point in his life.
“I didn’t know it at the time,” he said, ”but I was being prepared for the opportunity of my current job, and to be the man that I was meant to be. I didn’t take all of the greatest steps — I so wish I had done what you’re doing now, seeking advice and learning all you can. But the opportunities that lead me to this point were always gonna be there, whether I was ready or not… and you’ve got to be ready to do what God’s made you to do. Work hard, take initiative, be kind to everyone… but above all, trust that the Lord will guide you. I promise, if you do your part of this, He’ll do His.”
In this meeting, I expected to hear things like, “You need to make a five-year plan if you wanna get anywhere” or “you might as well get a more realistic job, cause this one’s near impossible to get” — but instead, I was met right there with such a blast of hope. That man spoke life straight into my dreams in a way that nobody has ever done. More than anything, he showed me that it’s all still possible. You can do what you love and not be homeless. You can take your seemingly infinite amount of interests or gifts and make them useful in what you’re made to do. Greatest of all, you can trust what the Lord is leading you to do, because He will not lead you astray. This gives me the chills to even talk about because it inspired me that much.
So maybe you still don’t know what you wanna do — it’s okay. Take each day as it’s own opportunity, abounding with ways for you to learn and grow and become better at what you’re made to do. Whether you know it or not, the Lord is preparing you for something awesome by teaching you in even the most insignificant of ways. If you don’t know what you can prepare for with skills, prepare your heart and mind. Obedience is one of the greatest tools that the Holy Spirit will use to shape you — He’ll wanna see if you’re really willing to follow Him where you can’t see.
It’s hard to courageously face the future. It’s scary and we can’t see what is holds. But, we’re all still figuring this thing out and you’re not alone. Keep moving forward.
I pray that you would rise up on the inside in this day, aware of the immense opportunity that you’ve been given to be lead into your future by the Creator. His ways are beyond anything you can understand… so don’t try to make sense of it all! His timing is perfect, He never makes mistakes, and He certainly has the best in mind for you. Enjoy the journey! I hope that you’ll no longer feel burdened by the immensity of your dreams, and will yield to the One who gave them to you in the first place. You’re courageous, lovely, bold, innovative, wonderful, and righteous — don’t believe the lie that you’re not capable of doing great things. With the power and the leading of the Creator, you’re capable of far more than you can even imagine. Be encouraged and blessed, friend. You’re awesome.