Does looking forward to the future ever make you anxious?
This whole year feels a bit like a ticking clock, the hands of which are flying by so fast I’m concerned it’s become unwound. I am very aware of deadlines and the start of August feels like another one. End of summer – act fast.
I think 2017 came with a whole big set of expectations. It’s the first year I am diving fully into being my own boss, but it’s also the year I made a choice to put personal relationships before work.
You see, prior to this year, my job as a personal assistant used to take me away a lot. I traveled to South Africa, Haiti, Montreal, Necker Island, Vancouver, Dominican Republic, and all over the United States. I spent more nights in a hotel than I did in my own bed, and truth is, I preferred it. There was a time that lifestyle was a perfect fit.
By nature, I am happy to put other people before myself. I probably learned this from my Grandma, the most selfless woman I ever knew. Yet, when your career revolves around being completely selfless, 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, after a while it leads to an identity crisis.
You get so used to helping other people accomplish their dreams, live their best life, that you run yours on auto-pilot. After a while, being an assistant, even to high profile people, can make you feel like a secondary person. What about my wants, needs, dreams, goals? I matter, too.
One night, about a year-and-a-half ago, I was in Johannesburg sitting across the table from my boss at the time, and he said to me, “I can’t wait to see what you do. We’re all going to end up working for you one day.”
At the time I had no plans other than being his assistant. Yet, it got me thinking, what am I going to do? There has to be something bigger.
Fast forward to today with this blog and a few side-hustles, and the “something bigger” is still aligning, but one thing is for sure: I wake up with purpose. I am invested in the projects I’m working on and seeing them come to life ignites a whole new kind of passion.
Work-wise, things are going great. I mean, I could use a few more zeros at the end of my bank account, but so could everyone, I’m sure. I firmly believe when you do what you love the money will come so I try not to stress about finances. So then, why then the anxiety about the future?
That has a whole lot more to do with my personal life. As I mentioned, up until this year, work was my primary focus. It was an escape, something tangible I could set out to do and see my accomplishments. I was “successful” and busy. Yet, with my job as my primary focus, I was sort of running away.
In my head, I saw a future I wanted: to be in a thriving relationship, with someone who makes me a better version of myself and to whom I do the same. Together we would bring some ridiculously cute kids in the world, travel non-stop, live our best lives and encourage others to do the same.
I still want that future, yet, thinking about it makes me a little anxious.
I think because so much of it is out of my control. Going after a career is different than creating a life with someone. When you are going after a dream job you start where you can, show up, work hard, capitalize on the opportunities, stay kind, humble, and exceed expectations. Eventually, your experience will match your ambition and you will find success.
Relationships are different. Love is trickier. First of all, our hearts get it so wrong sometimes; we go after people we shouldn’t, accept scraps from someone not willing to put us first, base our decisions on physical chemistry, succumb to charm, or otherwise accept the love we think we deserve.
By the time you figure all that out and start choosing more wisely, you’re faced with a whole new set of challenges. Let’s say you meet the one you could be with for the rest of your life. This person checks off the majority of your list, along with a few things you didn’t even know were on that list. It all seems like fate.
It should be smooth sailing from that point forward, right?
Yet, it’s not. I mean, initially, yeah it’s great. There are hormones and butterflies and the lens of perfection love lends you through which to see the world.
But, then, things get real. You realize, this person you love is human, and *gasp* so are you. You get honest and vulnerable, you have bad days, insecurities surface, true colors come out, and what you’re left with is a broken person, similar to yourself, that you can choose to love as if they weren’t.
That means accepting them for who they are, not who you wish they could be. Working through issues, taking an honest look at your own shortcomings, trying to be more thoughtful, kind, generous, and appreciative. It also means learning how to communicate, apologize, forgive, reset.
No wonder I used to rather just go on tour.
I guess that’s why I feel anxious. Relationships are full of so many little decisions and choices, I can’t help but wonder, am I making the right ones? I’ve noticed much of my worry stems from fear, focusing on the past, and an overall lack of trust in what God is doing.
When I focus on the past, I forecast my future according to my own previous limitations, experiences, or rejections. Whereas the future is unwritten, and the possibilities are endless. It’s like I’m fighting God over the pen as he’s writing my story.
The truth is I know God navigates me through every season of my life. I see him show up at the dead ends, make a way when there isn’t one, turn the worst things around into the best, exceed my expectations time and time again. He is faithful and he cares about the details of our lives, whether we choose to go to him about them or not.
My love life is no different.
The story I’m writing is only as good as God’s input. Instead of looking backward in fear, I should learn to look forward in faith; a patient expectation for a future that will far exceed my expectations. Not because of who I am, but because of who He is.
God did not create us for mediocrity. Not in life, love, careers or otherwise. I have no problem believing that in any other area. Yet, with love, sometimes I try to sell myself short.
The desires, hopes, and dreams we have for our future are there for a reason. They guide us, spur us forward, keep us pressing on when all feels lost. The question is: are we running away from what God has for us or towards it?
Sometimes believing in God’s best makes you feel like you’re jumping off a cliff. Then you reach behind your back and discover you’ve had a parachute on this whole time. He’s with you and you can’t fail. Take courage, be bold, and follow God where he is leading you.
Perfect love casts out fear. His love quells our anxiety. How brave of a life could we live if we truly believed that?