Next Steps

While, in a few days, I will be returning to Ireland to work on my thesis, my time at the University of Limerick has effectively ended. However, I am struggling with thinking through my next steps.

This is odd for me, because I have always been a planner. If I have a problem to solve, I devour all available evidence, I devise a solution, I devise alternate solutions, then I calculate all potential repercussions, and devise solutions for those, too. By the age of fourteen, I had my entire life planned out, and up until now, I have roughly reached every benchmark necessary to fulfill my plan.

Now, I have no idea what comes next. I never anticipated receiving the Mitchell Scholarship — if you told me in the fifth grade this is where I would be, I would have never believed you. Me, studying in Ireland? Me, studying in New York City before I even studied in Ireland? I’ve stuck to my course, but in these past few years, it has shifted. Now, after everything, I’m completely off course, headed for somewhere else entirely.

I will say that the COVID-19 pandemic affected me, too. I realized that no matter what I do, some things will always be out of my control. So, instead of confining myself to one choice, I should seize control of my life wherever and whenever I can, even if that means the end of my grand plan of my life. What comes next, then? The question frightens me.

I will say though, as someone who has always feared change, the uncertainty is exhilarating. Since I don’t know what comes next, I could do anything. I’m still scared I could make the wrong choice, but because of all I’ve learned and all the people I’ve met during my program, I know I have a decent chance at making the right decision. Or at least, the right decision for me.

Since returning home, everybody has asked the same thing: “What are your next steps?” I have avoided answering each time. I have this next month, my last month in Ireland, to myself. I’ll keep thinking through myself and my dreams so that when I get home and see everyone again, I’ll be able to give them an answer that brings a smile to both of our faces.

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