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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 is an undertone that I think myself, and many others, seem to cling to.

Often we might find ourselves anxiously waiting for the next chapter or stage in our lives, be it a career choice or university application; or even something a little less bold, like planning a dinner reservation. Usually, we take each day as it comes: we travel to work or school each and every morning, eagerly anticipating the weekend; we make sure to buy our regular coffee, choosing to ignore its rising - and, albeit, eccentric - prices; and we continue to take each day at a time, even the mundane ones. The point is, we usually cope well enough.

Though we are very much aware that life has its issues, we continually decipher that despite its difficulties, eventually we will solve them. We are no doubt experts in living our lives to the fullest, often failing to notice that beneath the surface we remain chronically flustered.

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.

A Dance to the Music of Time, Nicolas Poussin 1634-1636

The roots of this crisis are certainly mismatched. We could argue that it’s just human nature, a subtle ode to our ancestors instinctive needs for survival. Or perhaps, we challenge it as something more than mere cognitive intuition, and that there exists something more concerning.

However, no matter how much research or self-induced questioning, there is often little that we can do against that continuously wading feeling: the fear of the unknown. Your future is your own, and that can be scary.


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