Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about life plans. These thoughts always enter my head rather spontaneously, like the other night at dinner when Mister stepped out to use the bathroom and I was eavesdropping on the table of girls next to me. The girl was describing her coming year like this, “…this fall is going to be crazy for me, I have course A and course B, in August I have this internship finishing up, and then starting February I’ll be working for this and next March we have that week in Australia…”
And I sat there in disbelief wondering how someone could have their whole coming year planned out… I realise it’s quite a bit easier when you do go to school and you have a guideline to where your life is headed, but I’m still in awe of it. Do I have a life plan? Yes, so to speak, but nothing is set in stone, nothing is defined to the point where I can say with all self-assurance that “Yes, this is going to happen in my life in the following year.”
I wasn’t always like this, there was a time where I planned my life completely – as fictional as those plans seemed to be, I believed them to be true – if it was what I wanted, I technically planned for it.
When I was 18 these plans might have looked like this: Dump the guy I’m with, move to Toronto with my best friend and go to school there and live the fabulous single life. None of those happened except dumping the guy I was with. I then met another guy and constructed a different life plan: Marry said guy, have his babies, grow up in Hamilton and live a small and happy life. None of the above happened either, I think we split up a week after I “planned” this. Once I realised nothing I planned/dreamed for actually would happen, I stopped planning so much. I mean, there is a generalization of how I want my life to go: grow up happy, comfortably, travel, eat well, learn to cook – but there are no time limits on my life “plans”.
I recently discussed life plans with a friend and she had a definite idea of where she would be in 3.5 years: She would be working for one more year at her current position, then she would move into the home they purchased and transfer her job to the town she’s moving to, work for another 6 months, go for two weeks to Spain, Italy and Greece on their late honeymoon, have a baby and live happily ever after.
As a mother, I am constantly being asked “What’s in the plans?” “Where is Princess going to elementary school?” A question I’ve been forced to think about since being asked almost daily about it, regardless that registration starts next November and I’m not even sure where I’ll be living when it does come time for Princess to go to school. I suppose many mothers do that – plan their whole lives in order to get some kind of relief, to get a sense of control – mothers are usually the ‘bosses’ and need to do stuff like that. A mom at Princess’ preschool even knows which middle and high schools her daughter will be going to – all I want to know is how do you know you will live in that same house or in the same area for the next 14 years? And yet, they just know.
Sometimes I think it might be nice to know exactly where you’ll be for the next 14, 18, 20 years. But then I think, how unromantic! I mean, it might feel nice to be somewhat ‘stable’, but even as I write that my nose crinkles up as if rotten eggs had just entered the equation.
One thought that comes to mind is this: what happens when life doesn’t go according to plan? People have expectations of this life that’s supposed to happen and then it doesn’t, and then what? Some people pick up the pieces and move on, but others, some who are more fragile, or some who just put all their eggs in one basket and couldn’t even imagine another life, these people are devastated.
Life plans can’t be set in stone because life isn’t concrete. You have to be open to change – people change, life changes – it’s things we always tell ourselves but when faced with the realities of it, we tend to panic – this isn’t how it was supposed to be! this wasn’t how it was planned! I was supposed to be here! I was supposed to be with him or her! But you can’t live like that, no one can.
An acquaintance of mine recently fell apart, I wasn’t close to her but a friend of mine was and we’ve both been an audience in her life tragedy.
She married at 23 years old to a man she had dated for 3 years, they purchased a condo in Vancouver and looked happy. Like really happy. They had tried for years to have babies but it wasn’t easy, and after 9 years of being married she finally has a 6-month old daughter. What we all didn’t know was that her husband has turned down two job opportunities in different cities because she refused to move away from her family, and he’s unhappy in his current workplace. He quit without securing another position and she’s currently on maternity leave. Nevertheless it’s put a strain on their relationship and their financial situation.
She’s in a situation she had never dreamed of and it’s tearing her apart, but the thing you can never say to someone in this type of situation is all I could think of: people change – people don’t fall out of love as easily as you think, but they sometimes fall out of supporting their other half, being there with them through their ups and their downs, and helping them realise that even if life doesn’t go exactly as planned that your love for them will always be there.
I feel like life isn’t about making plans, life is about having fun, sharing moments, giving kisses, taking what life throws our way and making the best of it, and knowing that even if everything doesn’t go according to plans that it will all turn out alright – we will all be okay, even better, we will all be fabulous.
What do you think? Do you make serious and concrete life plans? Or do you take things as they come? How do you feel about life plans?