We are creatures who long for certainty and security. We have insurance policies, retirement accounts, alarm systems, wills, 5-year plans, 10-year plans, bucket lists, to-do lists. While seeking to be as prepared as possible, the harsh reality is we have no way of knowing exactly what tomorrow holds.
When I graduated from Georgetown University in 2002, my 10-year plan was this:
- Move to San Francisco. (To be close to my dad and stepmom; I had lived on the East Coast the previous 12 years with my mom and stepdad.)
- Launch my career. (#1 choice: magazine editor at Sunset Magazine; #2 choice: advertising.)
- Live a fulfilling life as a single career woman; avoid marriage, possibly consider in late 30's. (Sounded safe to me, as no marriage = no chance of divorce.)
10+ years have passed and this is what actually happened:
- I did move to San Francisco, and now live one hour south in Silicon Valley.
- I did launch my career, but it was much less glamorous: Youth Director at a church. Then I transitioned to being a stay-at-home parent.
- I've been happily married for 12 years and have three children.
My life hasn't unfolded how I planned, and is way better than I dreamed. For starters, marrying young forced me to face my greatest fear: letting someone know the real me. It certainly helped that he's kind and freely expressive of his delight over me, and very handsome too. Just think—what if I had turned down his pursuit and said, "No, sorry, my 10-year plan says I won't consider marriage until I'm well into my 30's." Think of the opportunity my 10-year plan would have led me to miss!
Don't be so fixed on your plans and dreams that you miss the opportunities slapping you in the face. Opportunist is defined as, "a person who exploits circumstances to gain immediate advantage rather than being guided by consistent principles or plans." I'd like to use the word with a positive spin. I'm thankful my life hasn't turned out how I planned at age 22; it's more fulfilling than I could have imagined because of seizing opportunities that were before me and letting go of certain plans (pun!). Be this kind of opportunist.