Embracing the Unknown

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Written by Alex Cain

Thinking about the future can be scary, intimidating, and overwhelming. There’s even a term for being afraid of the future: chronophobia. Chronophobia is a persistent, and often irrational, fear of the future and passing of time. In today’s culture, we are constantly planning ahead and worrying about what’s to come next. We are taught at a young age to plan for the future without actually comprehending what the future really means. The future can mean a lot of things for people: their job, relationships, health, or happiness. But it encompasses a lot of our thoughts and influences many of our actions in the present, taking away from the time we actually enjoy in the moment.

As a college student, this can be especially true if you don’t know what you want to do after graduation. Quickly approaching the midway point of my junior year, I find myself in this position more often than not. Where do I want to work? What do I want my career to look like? What internships will prepare me for that job? These questions are far too familiar for students whose majors may not lead to a specific career choice. College is a time for exploration but some days we get so caught up with the future that we forget about this. The weight of the future can be crippling at times but it’s not the future itself that scares people. It’s the not-knowing part.

In an ideal world, all of our plans would be perfectly executed and everything would be a smooth ride. In reality, however, this is rarely the case and our lives often encounter bumps in the road or are put on detours. It’s hard not to be intimidated by the future because anything can happen and plans change. Before college, I never would have guessed I’d be where I am majoring in what I am today. Even though the future can be overwhelming and fear-inducing, it can also be exciting to “not know.”

Planning is great and knowing what you want to do makes things so much easier, but there is some beauty in not knowing what the future holds. The future is a vast plain of endless opportunity and possibility and it’s okay to not know which path you’ll take. As college students, we are afforded the opportunity to explore and try out new things as the future awaits us. Living in the present is important because it prepares us for the future and allows us to embrace the unknown we are bound to encounter. Not knowing is powerful in the sense that it keeps us moving, changing, and evolving. We hold the whole world in our hands, and the future’s uncertainty is what drives us to keep living. I think Agnes de Mille put it best when she said, “Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little.”

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