Campus Life, Lifestyle

Planning my worries away

First of all, I would like to apologize to my friends for every time I completely stress out the second that Boston University opens the Class Planner on Student Link. I really can’t help but immediately log on and plan at least five different schedules for the next semester — just as a contingency plan.

I’ve always been an over-planner. Even when I was in middle and high school, I knew exactly what classes I wanted to take for the next few years. That plan often changed a couple of times, but it always existed.

I can’t imagine not knowing my next move in life. To be unsure of the future — to not have the faintest idea of what I want — is one of my biggest fears.

weekly agenda
Weekly agenda. While planning for the future can provide a sense of security, Ilana writes that learning to adapt to uncertainty is a part of college life, and not necessarily a bad one. COURTESY OF JESSBAILEYDESIGN VIA PIXABAY

I acknowledge this may not be the healthiest or most productive mindset. College is a time where our lives are meant to be uncertain, and that is a good thing. These are supposed to be the years we get to try things and fail and succeed and find what makes us happy. So how do I cope when this implicit uncertainty terrifies me?

The answer right now is this: I don’t know. I still micromanage my future as much as I possibly can and absolutely break down when I need to change that plan for whatever reason.

Last year, I had planned my schedule for the next three years around going abroad for the Spring semester of my sophomore year. Studying abroad is such a special opportunity and unique college experience, and I felt like I had to take advantage of BU’s expansive study abroad options. So, I applied to study abroad in London on the political science internship track. 

But here’s the thing: I want to focus my studies on U.S. domestic policy. I realized a couple of days after submitting my application that this opportunity didn’t really make sense for me and that maybe a change of plans was necessary. Naturally, I freaked out.

I frantically made an appointment with my advisor and arrived in her office a complete nervous wreck. Thankfully, she calmed me down significantly, and I left with a solid plan for the next semester. I was still really shaken for about a week after this change.

This isn’t necessarily a cry for help, but a desperate attempt to feel like I’m not the only one who feels this way. 

Registration is coming up for undergraduates in about a week, and I’ve talked to people who haven’t even thought about what they want to take next semester. I felt anxious for them. How can people live like that? 

I feel like I think about the future — even just the little things like class registration — constantly. I’ve looked at the BU Blueprint documents outlining my entire college career and the different possibilities multiple times a week since I made them a year ago. It’s a problem. 

Back to the important question I do not have a real answer to: what do I do about this obsession with planning and how do I control it?

Something I’ve been trying recently is to accept that this is a part of myself that may never completely fade away. Sometimes, it can even have positive elements. I’m very organized and can use my neuroses to help other people organize their schedules. 

On the other hand, I need to cut myself some slack. We all do in one area or another and this is a big one for me. It’s okay to not have all the answers — it’s normal. If a plan doesn’t pan out, there’s a reason for it and usually, it’s beyond my control to ensure that everything happens exactly how I want it to.

I cannot plan my way out of future uncertainty and I need to accept that. For now, however, I am overly prepared for registration and there is a feeling of security in that.

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