On growing up, fear, and the future

on growing up, fear, and the future

In two months, I will be graduating high school, and I’m scared.

I don’t like to think about this fact because I pride myself in being someone who tries not to fear the future and loves change, but honestly, I’m frightened of next year.

For my entire life, I’ve been working towards two events: graduation and heading off to college. I’ve spent the past twelve years of my life staying up late, making sacrifices, cramming information into my head, crying over grades that are too low, and waking up every day to do it again. I fully admit – I’ve been incredibly lucky in my life to be in the position I am now, with a breadth of college choices, but sometimes I can’t help but question the choices I’ve made.

Should I have chosen to go to the same school for both middle and high school? Should I have gone to a “normal” school? Should I have done things differently?

And I don’t know.

But what I do know is that all of those choices have led me to where I am today, and looking forward, I feel like I’m floundering a giant sea without a life vest.

I have no idea what I’m getting myself into. Debt, for sure, but what if I pick a college that I end up not fitting into? What if I can’t make friends? What if I’m homesick? What if I graduate and can’t get a job? What if I can’t pay off my debt? What if I make all the wrong choices?

These thoughts plague me every day. The uncertainty of my future – it’s hard to bear that weight.

I think about my family and my friends. What happens when I’m hundreds of miles away? I’ve always had fomo – the “fear of missing out” – and it’s taken me years to learn how to cope with it, but I fear that going off to college will heighten it. I’ve been able to figure out how to navigate my life now, but I don’t know what I’ll do in college. I don’t know what kind of people I’ll meet or what I’ll be confronted with. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to find friends. That I’ll make an absolute fool of myself. That I won’t be happy.

Honestly, that’s the fear that’s the hardest: not being happy.

I’ve told myself since I was a little kid that college, life after college, it’ll all make me even happier. (Not that I’m not happy now.) I’ll be those girls you see in movies who are on top of the world – a good job, great friends, someone who they love and loves them. But what if it doesn’t work out like that?

No one tells you how to be happy. They tell you how to get a job, how to get into college, how to make money – but they don’t tell you how to be happy. That’s something you have to figure out for yourself. And I’m frightened that I won’t be able to figure it out.

In this time of uncertainty and the weight of my future, it’s hard sometimes to remember to live in the now. To let the future you figure out what to do next. To live in this moment. To enjoy the beauty of the life I’ve built, smile, laugh, and soak up every moment.

But I’m going to try. I’m going to try and take this life one step at a time and hope that I can figure out the mess of my future.

  • I relate to this so much Willa. My entire life seems like it has just been leading up to going to college, and now that I’m actually about to be at college I don’t know what to do because I don’t really have plans exactly set out anymore.

  • I felt exactly the same way when I went off to college! It really is so, so hard to leave everything you’ve known and the people you love to study somewhere new. And I’m not going to lie – the first few months might be really hard. But thanks to the power of technology, there are so many ways to stay in touch with the people who you are away from! And the endless possibilities that exist in being in a new place with new people are a true blessing. Wishing you lots of luck!

    • Thank you so much Alexa! I’m going to be needing all of the support from the bookish community in the coming months, so your words mean a lot <3