What’s Your Plan?

I imagine you’ve heard the question: “what are your plans after graduation?” You’ve asked the question and dreaded the question. I’ve stumbled upon this question twice – once at the end of high school, and the other routinely as I complete my final semesters of university. I’ve seen curiosity build behind prying eyes as I formulate my answer. I’ve never dreaded this question because I had an answer to it, because I had a plan – or I thought I had a plan. I didn’t know that this – what seemed to be a simple question – held a lot of emotion, a lot a weight and a lot of unknowns. Just not for me.
In my first exposure to this life-altering, unbalancing question, I responded with the safest, practical option. In early high school, I answered with “I’ll stay home, and attend the University of Calgary.” It was my plan. Nothing would pull me away from the comfort of home. Even though I could choose any direction, I held what I knew.
I crave structure, routines and patterns. I’m unhinged at spontaneity. My ideal adventures are planned and colour-coded. I don’t take risks, and I hate change.
As I grew, I didn’t experience those teenage years of self-discovery, disobedience and recklessness. No. I obeyed my parents, I did my homework – early – and I went to bed on time. My years in high school consisted of break-less, tireless and endless hours of studying. Mum forced me to put my pencil down, forced me out of the house and forced me to relax. While my friends’ partied, stayed up late and had free weekends, I pushed myself to do homework every second until my brain cried for rest. I was comfortable. I had a routine. I worked hard to graduate, to go to university, to build my future.
Calgary held me close until one day, in grade 11 life changed.
My school hosted a university fair. My friends, desperate for a break, pulled me away from the books and convinced me to join them. They wanted to gather ideas for what to do after graduation. Unlike me, they didn’t have a plan. We walked into the fair and saw a hundred possibilities for our futures. I shut them down – I would not relocate. I had a safe plan.
As we walked around, I gathered free pens, stickers and catalogues plastered with university logos. Pointless. I knew these would end up in the recycling bin. Then, I spotted a small booth for an eastern university. In Halifax.
I walked over.
I spoke with the recruiter and instantly, unexpectedly, completely, my future changed. I wanted to go to Halifax. I believed God placed this seed, and let it grow. I could almost hear the ocean breeze. My friends and family thought this was a phase, that I’d change my mind closer to graduation. I didn’t.
For the first time, I felt spontaneous. For the first time, I walked into a situation without a solid plan. For the first time, I fell into an adventure.
By August after graduation, I was ready for a change. I got on a plane and flew to the other side of the continent. I didn’t know what university was like, what Halifax was like, or what the distance would do to me. But, I knew God wanted me here. I pressed on. I pressed on to a new province, a new city, a new me.
Halifax welcomed me. In its safe arms, I grew, I stumbled, and I discovered. I experienced agony, despair and loneliness as I craved the sights, smells and the familiarity of home. Slowly, Halifax drew me into a beautiful romance. I fell in love with life on the East Coast – my new plan, my new home. The Rockies raised me, but the Ocean accepted me.
As I settled in, I planted the roots for my future.
But, spontaneity sprouted different plans. This time, a man. An American man. God opened my heart for him to enter. Slowly, my future in Halifax disappeared. The city I grew to love drifted away.
I’ll remember Halifax affectionately. In four short, yet simultaneously long years, I discovered myself in the midst of a spontaneous adventure. Near the ocean and completely alone. Trials, challenges and emptiness left me begging to go home, to give up. But, stubbornly, I pressed on. God had a purpose for me to be here. I needed to wait.
As I pack my suitcases, change my last name, change my zip code, and change my passport, I am thankful I took that leap. As I approach the end of university, I itch for change, for relocation. I never expected to leave what I knew – leave what was comfortable, leave what was easy and leave those I loved. I didn’t think I’d get stronger when I uprooted and relocated. But, maybe, that was why I needed it. The plans I created held safety. The plans I followed held growth, love, adventure, and bruises.
I still colour-code my plans but, as my best friend likes to remind me, nothing bad ever comes from a little adventure.

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