Thinking one step ahead

"I'm always thinking about the next thing. So I don't enjoy anything."

Subtle words for a feeling that I think we’ve each trawled over.

Yet it’s an undertone that I think myself, and many others, seem to cling to. An unnerving and unrealistic feeling on what lies next.

Perhaps we wait anxiously for the next chapter, be it a career or starting at University; or even something a little less substantial, like planning what’s for dinner. The point is, that for most of the time, we cope well enough. We take each day as it passes: we make it to work or school every morning, and follow the same timetable; we make sure to buy our regular coffee, or eat our regular breakfast; and we continue to take each day at a time, even the mundane ones.

We’re aware that life has its issues, yet we continually decipher that despite its difficulties, we’ll solve them. We’re no doubt ‘experts’ in living our lives to the fullest, failing to notice that beneath the surface we remain chronically anxious on what’s to come.

Until one night, we lie awake, and something triggers a collapse. A grotesque and bitter feeling of unfulfillment, self-loathing, and anxiety. It might be due to a recent interval, like a failed interview or romantic misstep; or something that has resurfaced, like a past mistake or embarrassing moment. Before we know it, it has applied pressure to our most tender consciousness. Five hours have passed, and you’ve had little sleep.

The roots of this crisis are certainly mismatched. We could argue that it’s just human nature, a subtle ode to our ancestor’s instinctive needs for survival. Our anxiety sowed deep into our functions; a concept that remains recognised as simply normal. Or perhaps, we challenge it as something more than mere cognitive intuition, and that there exists something more concerning.

We should go through our lives like a pilot who is at all times wondering what alternative runway they might head to in order to crash-land the plane if a crisis demanded it.

From experience, it’s certainly a feeling that I find difficult to decipher. Despite continuously wading myself that it’s integral to appreciate the present, I still find myself filled with worry. I worry about what’s next after graduation, about making contacts, friends, and potential relationships. I worry about where I’ll be in the next 5 years, and whether I’ll make the right decisions. And this is where the fear ticks. It’s that feeling of little control. That there is no route map or itinerary locked in place. Your future is your own. And that can be scary, especially after University.

Though I’m certainly excited to see what the future holds, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to truly tackle the anxiety of thinking one step ahead.