This post is for the planners – for those Type A individuals with a 5, a 10, and a 15 year plan. I’ve always been a planner. Since I was a little girl, I’ve planned for the major events in my life. I chose my college at the ripe age of 12. At 18, I was accepted to said college. Then, I decided I wanted to graduate early, so I did that, too. At 21 I set strict criteria on my online dating profile, because I had a specific type of guy in mind. I met, dated, and married a person who fit all of these criteria… Then my reality suddenly wasn’t in my plans anymore.
Learning to Plan for What You Want
I grew up in a middle-class family, where we really didn’t want for much. My parents owned a nice 2 story home when I was young and in high school we moved to our family farm. My parents worked hard and taught me that I could get what I wanted by working hard, too. If I wanted something, I could have it… as long as I planned for it and I worked for it. So, that’s what I did. Want it. Plan it. Work for it. Have it. Life owed me that. If I planned for it and worked for it, life owed it to me to let me have it.
Planning as a Child
When I was 5 years old, I wanted a Lee Middleton doll so badly I could hardly stand it. There was a Lee Middleton store an hour and a half away in the Galleria, so my mom told me that if I could earn and save the $100 it cost to buy the doll, that she would drive me to pick one out. I remember counting the money that I hid in my toy box until I had enough. It took me months, but eventually I saved the money. Choosing my baby doll was one of the moments I think I’ll remember forever. I was incredibly proud of my baby, and it was then and there that I believe the “want it, plan it, work for it, have it” mentality was instilled in me.
When my husband and I married in 2014, the plan was for him to graduate and for us to buy a home in the hill country of Texas close to our friends and family. However, the months ticked by and our plan wasn’t panning out no matter how much we planned or worked for it. And believe me, we were doing a lot of both.
The Reality of Planning
My husband has been actively searching for a job for the past 12 months. I’ve been unable to “want it, plan it” and the pressure has been enormous. For the girl who plans everything, I’ve had to go through a lot of adjustments. There have been some really low times.
I’ve had to learn that even when you make all the “right” decisions, you can’t always get what you plan for. When I learned this I felt like I was being punished for something, and I was bitter. I did everything by the book. I graduated college. I got a great job. I even married someone who fit my strict online dating criteria. Still, I was miserable at the realization that I had pretty much no control.
These times have been hard on my marriage, despite continuing to love my husband. Our situation is no fault of either of us, it’s “just the breaks”. Unfortunately, life can be a real you-know-what and will continue to throw lemons at you even when you’re drowning in lemonade. Life’s a peach like that. Want to add some stress to your life? Take the fact that your spouse with a doctorate can’t find a job, add in a touch of homelessness because you had to vacate your apartment, then add a splash of one serious family illness. I promise you sleep-reducing anxiety in an instant.
Flash to last week. In the span of 8 hours our entire outlook changed. That morning I received great news about the ill family member – as good of news as we could have hoped for. I go about my day, relieved, but still on edge. It’s 6:30 pm and I kind of picked a fight with my husband because it’s one of my finer hours as a wife. Then the phone rings and in the next few moments we went from crippling stress to relief – a job offer.
After several days to reflect, I understand now that planning and working for something doesn’t mean it’s owed to you. Life owes you nothing – hard work doesn’t even owe you anything – that’s life and it sucks sometimes. Sometimes it sucks a lot of times, but if you surround yourself with people who love you, your eyes will be open to the things that really matter.
Soon I’ll leave Texas behind to become a resident New Mexican. I’m trading chili for chile and festivals for fiestas. I’m not ready to look back and laugh about our struggles over the last year – it’s still too raw – but I am ready to pick up the pieces and move on to the next thing. I’ll continue to plan and work for the things I want out of life, because what’s life without aspirations? But I will no longer expect life to owe me just because I’ve dotted all of my i’s and crossed all of my t’s when I planned for it.