Monday, February 21, 2011

10 Years From Now

I'm sure most of you, at some point in your life, have been asked the question "Where do you see yourself in 10 years?" or, at least a variation of that question, maybe 5 years or even less. But the point remains the same. What are you working toward?

The first time I was asked this question, or remember being asked this question, I was a freshman in high school. We (all students) had to meet with our counselors for some reason; probably picking classes. One of the first things my counselor asked me was "Where do you see yourself in four years?" Obviously she was referring to what I wanted to do after high school. At that point I really had no idea, just that I wanted to go to college*. Which is vaguely what I remember telling her, something about going to college. I had no idea what kind of career I wanted. She then helped me get into my necessary classes, I signed something, and I think that was the last time I talked to her in high school.

*I of course wanted to play division I baseball, but when my body decided to stop moving vertically around the end of my freshman year, that became much more difficult.

Most of the time, this question isn't taken seriously. I certainly didn't think deeply about what I wanted to do with my life the first time that counselor asked me, and I think most people feel that way. When meeting with a financial advisor, or anything along those lines, they usually ask you this kind of question. They want to know what your goals are, so they can help you get there quicker. Or something like that. You've often gone through a list of questions before they get to that one, so you don't think about it deeply at all. You want a house. Married. Kids. Stuff like that.

But lately when my mind has wandered it's wandered to this specific question. Where do I want my life to be in 10 years?* I want to be writing, I know that much. Everything else is jumbled and blurry and I have no idea what else I want to be doing. I don't even know where I want to be writing or even what I want to be writing. But I certainly hope in 10 years I can look back on this, laugh at my horrible writing skills and know I lived the last 10 years of my life the way I wanted to day by day.

*It's worth noting I think that it's seemingly meaningless to wonder about this. Regardless of where I want my life to be, no matter what I do or how hard I try to make my life turn out that way, I know things change and things are uncontrollable. But my mind wanders anyways.

But after about 30 seconds of thinking about myself personally, my mind wanders even deeper and I start to think about how the world is going to be different in 10 years. This is much more interesting, and has many more possibilities, so you could imagine how long one could think about this.

In 10 years, we will be watching an NFL without Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, but we'll be watching some 22-year-old hot shot* carrying a whole city's hopes and dreams on his shoulders. That 22-year-old hot shot is a 12-year-old kid somewhere right now, eating fruit-by-the-foot, playing video games, and dominating the backyard football games he plays with his friends. That's crazy to me.

*It always cracks me up when announcers and reporters say things like "He always knew he was going to be an NFL QB," because, every kid knows they're going to be an NFL QB. Or the Yankees shortstop. Anyone with any talent growing up thinks they're going to be playing professionally when they grow up. And even the kids without talent think it. It's the wonderful innocence and hope of a child before reality comes crashing down.

In 10 years, will we have found a cure for cancer? Any kind. AIDS? Will we have different abortion laws? Has there been another terrorist attack? It's crazy to wonder. Nobody knows what will happen in 10 years. Every decision you make on a daily basis is going to somehow play into the next 10 years of your life. Most will be incredibly small, unimportant decisions that alter very little. And then you'll have that one moment where you know you can look back and it changed your life. Maybe you meet someone, maybe you achieve something, whatever that moment is, it makes one wonder when that moment is coming.

In 10 years, what will be the new Blu Ray? Were 3-D TVs successful? How did Egypt fare as a democracy? It's hard to believe how much things will change.

I can remember 2000. Y2K. I'm 100% sure 10 years ago I wouldn't have said "In 10 years I'll be majoring in journalism at Winona State University." Obviously nobody expects an 11 or 12-year-old kid to correctly predict their future university 10 years in advance.

It's something that we can think about and think about, and sometimes our imaginations will run wild. What if we hit it big somehow? What if in 10 years I'm retired? But, the fact is, this question is as meaningless when your 22 or 32 or 42 as it is when you're 12. Life is going to happen whether you want it to or not. Trying to plan out your future has its benefits, but only if you understand at the outset it's more than likely not going to turn out the way you planned.

So, what do you want in 10 years? Where do you see yourself? Makes ya wonder.



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