I’m currently filling out one of those online Strength Assessment tools for an exciting side project opportunity. Most of the questions are pretty quick answers.
Yes, I consider myself a life-long learner. No, I probably don’t always have the strongest grasp on my emotions. Yes, I probably talk too much. No, I’ve never met a stranger I couldn’t befriend. You know, the usual.
Then I got to question 139. I have a plan for what I want to be doing five years from now.
And I froze. And I thought about it.
I thought about being 15 and thinking 20 sounded so old. I think of all the things I experienced in those five short years. I thought about the infamous “5-year plan.” I thought about my own personal Bucket List, my stretch goals, my wildest dreams. I thought about publishing a book or speaking for a thousand people. And I then, I decidedly thought I have no plan and quite frankly, I don’t want one.
See, I’ve been a type-A planner my entire life. A friend asked me if I wanted to go to dinner last week and I told them I had to check my planner. It probably comes off as a major character flaw.
I’ve always thrived off organization and lists and knowing that there is a place for everything if everything stays in its place.
When I moved to New York City in January of 2016, I had no plan. I had no plan and no apartment and no job. Then I had an apartment but no wifi and no way to refresh my email to confirm that I had no job. I was flying blind and I had no idea what I was doing.
What transpired from this accidental stumble of faith? The greatest experience of my life.
Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that I would be living the life I am in New York City right now. I couldn’t have told you 1 week ago what kind of opportunities were opening up to me. I couldn’t have imagined the people I would meet and the communities I would join. And yet without a strict 5-year plan, it happened all the same.
This crossed my mind the other night as I crawled into bed. I was thinking of all the times I thought quitting would be easier or that my dreams were silly or that I wasn’t capable of the things I wanted to achieve. I thought about how just in January I was certain I could not return to New York City. I got out of bed, tore a sheet from my notebook, and scribbled:
“I know I am exactly where I need to be.”
I woke up the next morning and saw my note, tangling on the lid of my gummy vitamin container. I picked it up, laughing at the note a sleep-deprived over-thinking Liz had left for herself. And then, I smiled.
I may have had no idea what I was doing. I may have had zero expectations for what I was getting myself into. I may have been scared and underqualified and overworked and downright reckless. But I dove in anyway. I took the metaphorical next step, even when I couldn’t see the metaphorical staircase.
And things worked out.
There is no way to predict the way things are going to go in the future. Those things I dreamed about when I was 15 don’t seem as tantalizing anymore. The end-all-be-all job I thought I had to have doesn’t seem like my only option anymore. I’ve learned that having a little faith can go a long way. I’ve learned that trusting in the journey is the first step to making it a beautiful one.
I looked back at question 139. I have a plan for what I want to be doing five years from now.
I have goals, sure. I have dreams, absolutely. I have ambitions that I am working to achieve, yes. But I don’t need a plan.
If I’ve learned anything in this past year it’s that sometimes the most meaningful things come from the most insignificant events. Whether that was small talk with a local baker that turned into a pivotal friendship, or responding to an apartment opening with roommates who turned into friends who turned into brothers, or buying vegetables from people who would unknowingly change your life, sometimes one small moment can change everything.
Sometimes that small moment comes in the form of a brave voice whispering, “yes. I’ll get up. I can try again tomorrow.” Sometimes that whisper is all it takes to change your entire direction. It may take months or even years for the coincidence of that moment to be recognized, but I truly believe that I am, and that you are, exactly where you need to be right now.
When I was 15, I wouldn’t have dreamed to have had some of the experiences I did in those formative years between 15-20. But looking back, I wouldn’t trade my story for anything. It may seem impossible, if you’re stuck in a dark spot, to feel like there is anything good coming from your current state. But I promise you, there is. Even when it’s hard to see, there is light.
I realize, now, I've taken a ten minute type-break to dive into one silly question. I click back to my unfinished questionnaire.
I have a plan for what I want to be doing five years from now.
Very much unlike me.
I shrugged. I don’t have a plan. But I do know this: it’s going to be great.