As a stringent Type A person (not just an “A” for Alexa or my grades on report cards), I find great pleasure in meticulously creating and following my plans. As a neurotic, I am often seized by indecision with regards to these plans, but once they have been finalized, I experience such relief.
Since I was in 6th grade, I knew precisely what I was going to do: I was going to be a middle school English teacher, just like my beloved role model. This aspiration became a plan before I could even explore my other passions. In fact, what did I want for my 11th birthday? An overhead projector with a collection of colorful vis-a-vis markers. After I came home from school, I would re-teach the lessons on my own projector, perfecting my handwriting and my delivery of information. It was no surprise when I went back to that same middle school as part of a Teacher Cadet program in high school, and then graduated with a B.A. in English Education. It was part of the plan. In fact, I couldn’t remember a time when I didn’t have that plan. I was economic with my time, efficiently graduating within four years and starting my first teaching job straight out of college.
Now, I would say it is pretty normal to make a career plan, responsible in fact. However, my plans did not end there. I had a handsome boyfriend a few years older than me (to account for the changes in maturity) and I patiently waited for the 3 year dating mark to start anticipating the diamond ring before planning the children’s names. Since he had a presidential last name, I figured one boy and one girl (Eleanor Rose and Theodore James). If heaven forbid, I had another kid, it was okay because I also liked the name Franklin. Now, if genders didn’t work out, well I wouldn’t let myself think that far into the future. I even inherited the dog and found myself a beautiful home to start my family. Sure I was supposed to be engaged before we bought the house; I mean that is how it is supposed to be done. But come on, he was just planning an epic proposal that would take a little bit of time. By the time we closed on the house, I would happily have that ring on my finger and I would be well in my timeline to have my children before I turned 30.
The one thing that I hadn’t considered in my plan was if someone else wasn’t ready to fulfill it.
So now I am in a situation where all of my carefully deliberated plans have collapsed and I am left with my career and my dog. My two favorite things, to be clear. However, for the first time in my life, I don’t have a plan. I am staying on my cousin’s futon until I figure it out, as I give away my consciously collected furniture (a beautiful King sized sleigh bed) and affectionately scroll through the photos of my house listed on Zillow. People keep asking me if I am okay. If they knew me at all, they would know that I would obviously be wrecked from my current state of affairs, derailed from my Plan. How would I survive? My plan is what has given me breath in my twenty-four years of life.
I expected to not be able to breathe. I expected to scrap up a Plan G (after my first A-F plans failed). I expected to give up and retreat back to my precious plan (even if it meant a life of lies). But, I breathed. Turns out humans need oxygen, not plans to breathe. I keep getting asked what is my new plan? I guess it is just to keep breathing. To keep living. To figure it out a day at a time.
This may have been the death of my plan for perfection. It might even be the death of the Type A+ Alexa. Now, maybe I can be a regular Type A human, free from the restraints and checkboxes I placed on my life.
As my dear Ernest Hemingway says, “We have to get used to the idea that at the most important crossroads in our life, there are no signs.”
Who knows? Life might be more fun without the guiding signs and satisfying checkboxes.