Dealing with the Anxiety of the Future

I’m not sure if everyone else feels this way, but I know at least one or two other people do.

Not knowing what the future holds is God damn terrifying.

There is so much out in life that is outside of your control that can happen to you. You could get hit by a car, someone could spill hot coffee all over you, North Korea could nuke your hometown, you get the idea.

Now obviously there are many more realistic options things that could happen, but they’re not as topical. Making sure you do well on that big test while ensuring your group project gets done before the midnight deadline, balancing sleep and keeping your skin clear. It’s so easy to be overwhelmed with tasks that never seem to end. You should always be eating healthy and exercising, but life doesn’t realize that doing those on top of taking care of your sick roommate is really difficult. Balancing your time is pretty hard when you don’t have a complete view of the problems you might have.

Schedules are a great way to keep yourself on track throughout the day, but they can only help so much. A late train could change the entire structure of your day. You missed the quiet hours at the gym and now you can either try to find the one open treadmill or skip out on it entirely to try to keep up with the rest of the day. Your schedule can’t account for everything. Even if all goes well, one can start to feel that they hit a rut. Sticking too closely to a schedule for too long can be dangerous. Live by the schedule until it gives you permission to die. Overall they provide good guidelines for your day to day life, but they’re not magically going to organize for every new event that occurs.

Problems come in all shapes and forms and you only have so much time and energy to spare. Planning for a test weeks away is much different than knowing your dog is gonna take a dump on your carpet. You can get away with cramming for one test, but good luck doing it for every class. The more you do at once, the larger the risk of mistakes or burning out. Some days can go without a hitch. Others require 48 hours of work to be smushed into 24.

Then there’s the really big hitters, the long-term goals. Finding that special someone, finding what makes you happy, leaving your mark on the world. How can you set aside time  for that? It sort of just happens. “Yeah I set aside an hour a day to hit on girls” (Then again I can kinda see people doing this. Point still stands). There are certain things that just sort of happen. Of course you need to put in the effort, but there are no easy ways of planning them out.

It seems like everyone else has everything together. They’re always smiling, good grades, good job, every problem comes and goes. I could keep going with the list, but I’m already disgusted. How come it doesn’t come naturally to some of us? It seems like there isn’t enough preparation in the world that could deal with every problem you have. There’s always some appointment or delay that ruins everything.

So what is the secret? How can you deal with every problem regardless of how much prep time you have?

The secret is you can’t prepare for everything. All you can do is train yourself to be as well-equipped as possible to handle a situation. Will you be able to handle everything? Of course not. But as long as you feel like you can handle as much of life that it throws at you then you’ll be fine.

Over-prepping is a dangerous thing. Everyone thinks they’re like Batman. Given enough prep time we could beat the gods themselves. Yet the real world is too chaotic for that. There are so many variables to consider. Even planning your work tomorrow is next to impossible because so much is out of your control. In your life pretty much everything is out of your control to some extent. You can pick and choose who you hang out with, but its not like you’ll know how they’ll act 100% of the time. There is only one constant in life and its yourself. That’s it.

It’s a scary solution. “Train yourself and throw yourself out there”. Well not quite that. Planning ahead is still helpful, but at the end o the day its only a guideline. The pitfall you need to avoid though is worrying so much about the future that you completely ignore the present. The present is what you can change. That’s where progress happens. You can set aside time in the future to practice playing guitar, but its not like you’re playing the guitar in the future. You’re just waiting until the future becomes the present. There is no direct way to impact the future. Only preparing yourself can help when the future becomes the present.

You can try to predict the future as much as you want, but it will never quite line up. Sure you can stay in your room 24/7 and know 99% of what is going to happen to you for the rest of your life. But is that really how you want to spend the rest of your life?

I for one am always freaking out about the future. I’m in my own head constantly badgering myself to get ready for the next big test or project. I’ve missed out on so much in my life because I was too focused on something that I couldn’t even control that I missed out on everything around me. Hundreds of regrets and I refuse to keep making this same mistake. Stay in the now and prepare for the future. But know that your success in the future is not because you planned for it, but because you prepared yourself ahead of time.

You can’t change the future. You can change yourself in the present and be ready for the future.