It’s Okay to Not Know

[Picture is of Sunny after her first painting. She doesn’t have a plan set in stone for her life, either!]

I’m pretty sure I came out of the womb having a plan for my life.

I might even say I know I did.

When I was twelve hours old, the doctors brought me to my parents and told them I had a beta strep infection that – back in 1991 – killed something like 98% of all babies that developed it within 24 hours of birth. I was not expected to live.

Ten days of care from the incredible doctors at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, many prayers from all my family, and some fierce fighting later, my parents brought me home from the NICU.

I had a plan for my life. I had no idea what it was when I was a newborn, and as I sit here and write this close to 24 years after, I have no idea what it is now.

And I think for the first time, I’m realizing that it’s okay not to know.

Tonight, I dropped all my classes for my master’s degree.

I keep looking at that sentence and feeling such contentment.

It’s not all that interesting how it happened. On June 1st, after a three-week break from classes, I was due to start back up again. It was a Monday and by the time I logged in to my online NAU account and downloaded the syllabi for my two courses, it was 7 pm and I’d worked something like a nine-hour day. Half of that was spent in 95 degree weather at the ranch.

I started to read the syllabi for my classes that night. I don’t even remember what they were. One had something to do with classroom instruction analysis.

And as I read, my heart sunk as a I realized that the classes a) required me to already be teaching in a classroom, and b) sounded more boring than all the math classes I was forced to take for my undergraduate degree.

I dropped them. Right there on the spot. And tonight, I dropped the other two summer courses I was due to take starting in July.

Working as the ranch director of Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary has sharpened my love for education. Every day I teach new visitors or volunteers something. I love showing people who have never touched a horse before how to approach them. I love showing them they don’t have to be afraid. I love giving riding lessons and I love sharing advice with my veteran volunteers (and receiving it in turn).

My love of teaching doesn’t mean I need to get a degree in education.

In fact, the more I looked at my program of choice, the more I realized it was more appropriate for classroom teachers looking to move up to the role of administrator. Not for someone who potentially wanted to encourage more sustainability initiatives be put into curriculum.

After feeling relief upon dropping my classes, I know it was the right thing to do.

I’ve always had a plan for my life. Ever since I was four, I was going to be an author. (This one I did accomplish!) In high school, I thought I was going to go into theatre for a while. Then I was going to study liberal arts. Then I was going to be a journalist. No, an activist writer. No, a part of government. No, a part of the American University School of International Service. Then I was going to be an international peacemaker. A policy maker. Then I was going to go into public administration. Then the USGBC. Then a teacher. No, then education policy. Sustainability policy. A curriculum developer.

All those plans were either bitterly crushed or I moved away from them because I realized the path was not mine to take. Being a part of government or policy or international relations might have seemed like my calling at the time. But in the long run, they just didn’t speak to me.

Tonight, I requested information from ASU about their masters program in nonprofit management. I love my job and I know I have worlds more to learn about running a nonprofit organization. And ever since Sunny was born, I have daydreamed about founding and running a Premarin mare and foal sanctuary or rescue. I’m thinking pretty hard about that one.

My point? Right now, I have no plan. My plan is simply to not have a plan. I intend to take whatever is thrown at me and accept what comes of my future application to ASU’s nonprofit management program. I intend to take whatever is thrown at me in general.

Right now my boyfriend and I are not sure where we’re going to be living when our lease is up in August. Due to him recently quitting his soul-sucking job, we aren’t even sure if we’re going to be living together come August (which, ironically, will bring our five-year anniversary).

Someone up there really decided to make this whole not-having-a-plan thing interesting. And what’s amazing is that I feel no stress or anxiety over either situation.

I’m simply taking each day as it comes.

Because in the end, you don’t choose your purpose in life. Your purpose chooses you. And when you trust that everything happens for a reason when it’s supposed to, that purpose shines through.

Do I know that for sure? Hell, no.

But from hereon out, I’m going to believe it.

(And now I’m going to go watch The Emperor’s New Groove.)

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