Overwhelmed by the Horizon

plane 2

Knowing that I’m about to graduate college, I feel like I’m facing the horizon of the rest of my life. I can go anywhere, do about anything (within the boundaries of my financial situation with school loans, of course).  I felt the same way in my senior year of high school. And completely overwhelmed.

These transition points we reach in young adulthood feel broad. If you’ve ever flown on a plane, you know how you can see roads threading in a grid underneath just before landing. The pilot knows where the runway is, but technically any one of those roads could be a viable for landing. Imagine that you’re the pilot, and you have to choose one of those roads as a runway. Which one do you choose? Which one looks like the smoothest? Which one will be closest to your destination?

Transition points can feel like that – whether you’re choosing a college, a career-path, a location to start independently living. Notice that I use the word feel, though. A lot of worries we have about significant decisions as a young adult are based on a feeling called fear. At times, I’ve felt so insecure about making the “right” decisions that I can’t decide anything at all. Here are some reminders I go over when I find those anxieties creeping into my thoughts:

  1. There are few life-altering decisions. My Dad told me this in high school. Few choices we make in life will drastically change the course of our lives. Deciding what school to attend probably won’t affect the rest of your life for years to come. Whom you marry is life-changing, which is why people spend (or should spend) a lot of time and energy getting to know someone while dating. When you think of most decisions being non-binding, it’s relieving and exciting. You’re free to experiment – you don’t have to have everything figured out. You’re free to take risks knowing you can make adjustments as you go.
  2. Actually, you do have direction. When I feel overwhelmed by the broad possibilities of what I could do, I have to stop myself and think about the guiding points I have. These include my desires and passions: where does my heart gravitate? What skills do I have? What dreams have been formed in me over time and where can they lead? What experiences have shaped me and given me drive for a cause? God doesn’t leave us helpless in discovering our callings.
  3. Your timeline doesn’t have to (and probably won’t) be the same as others’. It’s easy to get caught up in looking at others and evaluating “where they are at” in life. Yet it’s hard to use others as a standard for comparing ourselves because everyone is so different and doing different things. Wait for the right best things for you to come in life, and don’t rush into decisions based on where you think you ought to be. Someone once told me, “The good and the better are the enemy of the best.”

2 thoughts on “Overwhelmed by the Horizon

  1. Oh man, this is timely. I’m already starting to cast about for a post-college job, and the number of possible paths seems overwhelming. Point 1 is especially helpful: I tend to forget that your first job probably isn’t going to be the path you follow forever. Thanks!

  2. Andi L Gregory

    Thank you for this wonderful post. As I, and many of my friends are preparing to graduate college, it’s a wonderful reminder that most of the choices we make aren’t binding. It’s also encouraging to hear, once again, that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others because they aren’t us–only we can judge where we’re at by our own standards, and not by the standards of others.

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