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Coping with the Unknown

“Not everything has to be a big career move. Just slow down.”

It sounds like strange advice, but it was something I needed to hear. These particular words of wisdom came to me from Amanda Bonilla, the Assistant Director of IUPUI’s Social Justice Education and my mentor of three years. She was checking in on me, ever the concerned mama bear, as I had mentioned recently that I wasn’t sure how to handle the upcoming spring semester.

Like a lot of college seniors, I am at a crossroads in my career: undergrad is almost over, but graduation is not close enough for me to begin to pursuing full-time job opportunities. I am stuck – stuck in an in-between space, where so much feels uncertain. I feel like I’m standing on the edge of a pier, looking out over a dark, glassy lake that’s been swallowed in fog. No matter how much I try and force the future, to hold a lamp up to the mist, I remain where I am, unable to see much further than a few months ahead.

This is not a feeling I am familiar with and it makes me uncomfortable. I am a planner. I track everything I have going on in two calendars, one digital and one physical, and I lay out my schedule weeks ahead of time. Whenever I am moving forward in life, I like to know exactly what I’m moving towards. In this case, I simply won’t know for a while. And that pains me.

To Amanda’s point, not knowing doesn’t have to be bad. Sure, it feels uncomfortable, but there’s nothing inherently negative about the position I am in – it’s just the way things have to be for a little bit. Allowing myself to fret and get frustrated over the unknown is not only pointless; it’s unhealthy. I have to accept that things will work out and trust the process.

To be clear, that doesn’t mean waiting for new opportunities to fall into my lap. Trusting the process just means that I shouldn’t let my anxiety about the unknown take over. I intend to keep working hard towards my aspirations, but I need to be intentional about self-care, too. As my girlfriend has been known to tell me, I must remember to breathe and be grateful.

Throughout these next few months, I also want the people in my life to know that they’re appreciated. Maybe you stop by my desk and offer up some advice based on your past experiences. Maybe you ask me, “How are you doing?” and you genuinely want to know. Maybe you just let me vent for a minute whenever I’m frustrated that I can’t see past the fog, or you crack a joke to distract me when I’m feeling down. However your support looks, it means a lot to me and I will support you, too.  

I know that great things are coming my way. I can’t force the fog to leave sooner than it has to. I’m learning to trust the process and cope with the unknown.

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