Ditch the Plan. Live the Dream.

AbbyDefaultAbby Hevert ’15

I am a self-confessed planner, 99% of the time. Growing up, I always knew what I wanted in life and had created a plan to achieve it. In my third grade class, when everyone else wrote stories about their dogs and siblings during “author’s day,” I wrote a piece about my plan to become a therapist and receive my PhD at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in psychiatry. Don’t believe me? Ask my mother. At eighteen, I decided to attend Providence College. Since then, any sort of plan has been difficult to follow. I confess that, at times, I slip back into my third grade mentality and begin to plan out the next five years of my life. Unfortunately, I am too worried about time too much of the time. I am the girl who basically had a breakdown when I turned twenty because I was “halfway to forty.” However, since that birthday, I have tried to let go of the idea that plans are always necessary. And while it is not healthy to forsake obligations and walk aimlessly throughout life, sometimes, it is okay for me to ditch the plan and let life take me where it fancies.

Yes, plans can be useful. They can provide guidance and a means to a fulfilling end. The problem with some plans lies in their inflexibility. At age 21, I realize that it is okay for plans to be altered and that is absolutely appropriate that dreams change. If our dreams change, it means that we are changing and thus are fulfilling our most vital tasks as humans: responding to the call to live fully and happily. It is very important that we are always striving toward certain ends. This striving allows us to dare greatly and achieve our full potentials. However, rigid plans may force us to put unneeded pressure on ourselves as we view our lives as a list of things to do rather than stories unfolding. I now try to think of my life no longer as a plan, but as a kind of narrative, in medias res (or in the middle of things). I try not to devote much time to waiting for the villains to show up. They invariably will and I attempt every day to become more able to meet them at the door laughing when they do inevitably arrive.

I now understand that certain things do not need to happen at certain times. The beauty of living life in this way lies in the fact that it allows us to no longer put pressure on ourselves to become something by a certain time in order to fit a certain mold that was not molded by us. My right time to do something may not be your right time. Just as some babies walk before others, adults do things at different times. In fact, they do different things at different times. Our lives will never be identical. I now realize that my dreams are not plans and they are certainly not certain. And so, I plan to dream on, constantly. I plan to plan only when it is an original one to my life and has room built in for changes. After all, you want to hear the universe laugh? Tell it your plan. It has things in store for you that you would never guess. It has moments in store for you that you cannot fathom.

And while living life sensibly and always packing umbrellas for the rainstorms ahead may be quite practical and safe, it limits our time to have moments of true, uncertain, and perfectly unpredictable happiness. Just as the poet Nadine Stair says:

“You see, I’m one of those people who live sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day by day. Oh I’ve had my moments. And if I had to do it over again, I would have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of trying to live so many years ahead of each day.”

So, it is this planner’s solemn vow from now on to plan to have moments. I plan to have lots of moments where I am blissfully happy, lots of moments when I make other people feel peace, and lots of moments that provide me with an overwhelming sense of satisfaction. I plan to have moments where I truly live. I plan on stringing these unprecedented moments into one life, the product of multiple failed plans and changing dreams. I cannot live my life by Mondays and Fridays and Januarys and Junes. I can only live my life by moments. After all, I only have, with certainty, one moment ahead of me at each instant.

So for all of you twenty-somethings out there: ditch the plan. Live the dream. You only have this moment.

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