It’s okay not to know life’s ‘plan’

Spencer Batute, @batutie_

I graduated from high school as your typical type-A student: a 4.0+ GPA, a résumé with many AP classes, and a class rank just shy of top ten.

Shortly after moving away to college, I encountered one of my first serious bouts with major depression and anxiety. My pre-existing performance anxiety in school and general social anxiety set the stage for a turbulent transition. Despite giving my classes and my new life my best efforts, I’d hit a wall, and wasn’t able to keep up. I was soon diagnosed with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder and subsequently started antidepressant treatment. I withdrew from college in October 2017, shortly after starting college.

Upon returning home, I recognized that I had a lot of understanding to do. Many questions arose in my search of why I had hit such a steadfast wall. Did I not try hard enough? Should I have taken a gap year? Was I at the wrong college? Is college even for me?

Over the past two years, though, I have regained much of what I felt was lost while away. I am currently back at school juggling a full class load and a part-time job. Though I’ve had doubts, I stuck with school and am doing well in classes again.

I’ve weaned myself off antidepressants and picked up some game-changing practices like consistent meditation and exercise, and my confidence in myself and in my future has surged to a point higher than it has been since high school.

It is usually around this time in reading others’ success stories that I become detached from their journey. The natural reaction is to be inspired from such a tale, but I often find myself more intimidated than anything.

That’s where the success gets lost in translation. While I can’t speak for others, often times, there isn’t much at all that keeps me pushing.  If you were to somehow quantify my academic motivation and put it on a graph, it would look like a sine wave had a temper tantrum and then entered a jump rope contest. Nothing pretty. At few points, if any, in my journey since 2017 have I felt motivated or known explicitly where I was going. And if you’re anything like me — a type-A perfectionist— you might know how mortifying that can be. But I’ve tried my best to accept that and keep on pushing, and it’s worked thus far.

You don’t have to know many light years in advance what route you’re taking, nor do you have to feel driven by some holy fervor toward your goal. The path to success can take on many forms, and it rarely plays out how you envision it. It’s an intensely subjective concept and can change shape many times over, and that’s okay.

The best advice I can give is that there is none — there is an infinite number of ways any one thing can play out. Things tend to come to you when you surrender to them, and life is more meaningful that way. You’ll get there, even if you don’t know where there is.