The Question Marks of Life

Despite the fact that I normally like to mull over my posts for a few days before I publish them, this post isn’t getting that treatment.  There isn’t time.   In 48 hours I should know where I’m living next year.  In 48 hours, for good or for bad, the anticipation will be over and a giant question mark will be removed from my life.   And it’s the anticipation that I want to write about.  The venturing into the unknown, the bend in the road, the moments right before the moments that direct the course of our lives.

We’ve all felt it.  In high school it was waiting for the drama director to post the cast list for the spring play.  It was the waiting for SAT scores and college acceptance letters.  It was the road trip to a university halfway across the country and the moment right before meeting new roommates.  It was the intense emotions in the weeks leading up to our wedding and marriage.  It was standing in my first classroom, looking over the yet-to-be-filled desks.  It is jumping every time the phone rings during a drawn-out job hunt.

It’s the intense heartbeat and the conscious effort to breathe normally, wondering how your life will change.  It’s watching first a calendar and then a clock, but not being sure if you want time to speed up or slow down.  It’s double checking to make sure your phone works and refreshing your e-mail page 100 times a day to make sure you don’t miss anything, even though that’s totally not necessary.  It’s knowing that you’ve done all you can, and now your future rests on variables entirely out of your control.

All you can do is hope, pray, wonder, and speculate.  Then you try to stop speculating, because it doesn’t help anything and you’re driving yourself crazy.  You’re probably driving everyone around you crazy, too.

Or maybe not.  Maybe you wait in silence, because talking about it makes it seem more real, more intense, and more out of your control than ever.  You’re careful.  You try not to hope too much in order to avoid a bigger let-down if things don’t go your way.  But you really want a certain result anyway, despite everything.  You want that role, that acceptance letter, that job, that placement.  But it’s out of your hands, and all you can do is wait.

We all have a reason to wait and a bend in the road that we can’t see around.  My nomadic life has probably given me more questions and ventures into the unknown than most people my age, but we all experience them at some point.  And you know what I’ve discovered?

We get there, and life goes on.  I’ve experienced elation and devastation   Sometimes I got the part in the play, and then I was crushed when I didn’t (senior year!).  I was accepted into one college and wait-listed for another.  I met my roommates that first day freshman year, lived with them for a month, and then decided it wasn’t working out.  My new roommate became Maid of Honor and is still one of my best friends.  Marriage has been different from what I anticipated, but amazing nonetheless.  Six years and five cross-country moves later, we’re still going strong.  Teaching has also worked out differently from what I envisioned, primarily because of those five cross-country moves, but rather than suffering, I have grown.  I’ve discovered ambitions, dreams, skills, and talents that I didn’t know I would possess when I first stood in that empty classroom.  So I will survive these remaining hours of anticipation, and then we will move forward on the path laid before us, wherever it may lead.

At first I wondered if this topic fits in this blog.  I mean, the main reason I want to write about anticipation because I’m currently feeling it.  So I didn’t know if I just wanted to write to get some of the intensity of waiting out of my system, or if it really fit into the theme of preparing teens for life.

But then it hit me.

This is life.  This is emerging adulthood.  A series of question marks, bends in the road, trying to figure out where to go, what to do, and banging our heads against the wall because of all the unknown variables. How many teenagers are trying to research colleges and careers right now without really knowing what anything is going to be like?   How many high school seniors are watching that graduation date approach with the same feeling of anticipation of the unknown?  And how many drama kids are waiting for the cast list to go up, wondering if they made it?

I survived.  I’m still surviving.  You will, too.  I promise.

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6 thoughts on “The Question Marks of Life

  1. You seem to imply that these moments are only for the youth. I have a different opinion (you probably figured by now, I always have an opinion lol).

    Facing the unknown is terrifying, what ever your age. Maybe the unknown is less dark or less unexpected as you grow older, but I don’t think these moments ever stop happening, or easier to face. Going through a job interview is still terrifying for me, even though I went to them for the last 20 years. Moving out is still stressful, even though I did that on average every two years for my entire life.

    You cannot avoid these moments, there are parts of life. You cannot advance in life without going through them. All you can really learn, is how to go through them, and really, I am still trying to figure out how to do it. I suppose everyone’s own personality may make it easier for some than for others (I definitely don’t have the gene to go through these moments easily).

    I had more written, but I deleted it. I was going off the scope of your blog, which I understand is mainly to teach a thing or two to the youth, our future, those who will soon have to face what you and I had to go through and survived: Entering adulthood. Was it easy? No. Are we glad that we did?

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    • I don’t mean to imply that these moments are only for youth. Not only do I still face them on a regular basis – I’ve seen my parents face some really big unknowns recently, as well. But as you said yourself, I have a target audience in mind when I write these posts. If adults enjoy them, awesome! But I’m thinking about teens and fellow educators when I write, so I want to make sure I don’t alienate the youth by writing examples that they haven’t experienced or won’t relate to yet.

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