My Story

If You Want to Make God Laugh, Tell Him Your Five Year Plan

I’m in the middle of interviewing for jobs at the moment, which means I’m often asked my least favorite question on the face of the earth: “Where do you see yourself in five years?” I can’t precisely point to when I began hating this question with the fire of a thousand suns, but I’m fairly certain it was somewhere around my junior year of college. Halfway through that year, I changed my major from Biochemistry to English and decided once and for all that I was not going to med school. Whatever plan I’d had up until that point—course requirements, MCATs, applications, med school, internship, residency, and so forth—disintegrated.

By the time I graduated and was thrust into the “real world” (deep in a recession I couldn’t understand), that question could send me into a panic attack. Not only did I not know, I couldn’t even fathom knowing. There were no jobs to be had, my boyfriend of three years had dumped me, and I had a degree that didn’t exactly lend itself to a clear career path.

When I went back to grad school for my Masters, I thought maybe I could begin to piece together a plan. Five years was a long way away, but I could get my PhD and that would put me on a track with specific steps I could follow and ambitions to shoot for. But again, the Universe rained on my parade. Of the programs I applied for, I was only accepted to my last choice school. Though the program was one of the highest ranking for my specialization, when I got real with myself, I knew there was no way I could live in the tiny nowhere town the school was located in for the next five to seven years. So I didn’t go.

By the time I moved to Atlanta and began working in advertising, that inevitable question no longer made me panic. But I did have to restrain myself from laughing and replying, “Fuck if I know!” Five years ago, I was pretty convinced I would never live anywhere but New York. Five years ago, my parents were still married. Five years ago, I was planning a career in academia. Five years ago, I wasn’t a cat person and I wasn’t sure I wanted to get married or have kids. All no longer true five years later.

Five years is a long time, especially in your twenties. And by now, I know better than to try to predict the twists and turns my life will take. The real story is probably far better and more incredible than I could predict anyway.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: