It’s completely normal to feel anxious about the future, especially if you aren’t sure what you want to do. In fact, this uncertainty about the future seems to be the biggest stressor amongst college students. We all want to find that unique, tangible purpose for our existence. Here are some tips to not necessarily reduce uncertainty (because let’s be real, that’s impossible), but embrace the unknown in all its complicated glory.
1. Switch your attitude
So you’re probably asking yourself questions like “what am I going to do with my life?” We all do it, but maybe it’s time we switch our perspectives. Instead of seeking a life purpose (a specific direction or career), let’s focus on discovering the things that make us feel the most alive, thankful, inspired, and joyful. What keeps you connected to the present moment? When do you feel the most alive? Everyone’s sense of purpose looks different. Some people may enjoy learning new things just for the sake of learning. Others may find peace in serving others. No matter the challenges you face as an individual, your sense of purpose will remind you of what is truly important.
2. Make a plan
Though we can do everything in our power to influence the direction of our future, at the end of the day, we don’t have control over the exact outcome. Often times we think about our futures with expectations. Negative expectations may make us closed off to opportunity, and positive expectations may lead to unrealistic standards. Instead, find some middle ground and prepare yourself for all sorts of possibilities, both good and bad. By creating a plan that encompasses all different situations, you can be confident in your ability to adapt when things don’t necessarily go the way you predicted. Let go of the need to know how your life will turn out, and appreciate the action you can take right now.
3. Be aware of your feelings
If you feel yourself spiraling down a path of anxiety, catch yourself and tone it back. Try to analyze your fears from an objective point of view, and if you can’t, try to talk it out with a level-headed friend, parent, or counselor. A lot of times when we worry about things that will happen in the future, it’s just speculation. Let go of the worries, for they do not serve you in any way. Continue to live your life and do what you love. Fulfill short-term goals by following your passions, hobbies, talents, and so on. If things do go wrong, you have what it takes to get through that.
When dealing with uncertainty about the future, it’s best to welcome the unknown. We know, easier said than done… but try channeling your negative feelings into excitement when things take you by surprise. Imagine how boring life would be if you always knew what was going to happen next. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and use each unexpected event as another stepping stone in becoming the person you are meant to be.