As a young student and professional, I am repeatedly asked the question;
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I get asked questions like this when meeting someone new in my social life, in my professional life, and especially during interviews for work or volunteer experiences. I’ve always wondered how to answer this question with the amount of accuracy that I desire to.
I wish I could look them in the eye and say, “Well, I will have found an entry-level job in my field somewhere I’m vaguely interested in. I would probably move wherever they need me to because I’m broke and will go wherever the hell the money is. I will work my way up to a mid-sector position with a higher pay grade within 5 years time and probably have a stellar boyfriend that wants to further our relationship and move in together. So, basically Sir, in 5 years I will have figured it all out.”
The problem is, this is not how I really feel. I don’t think it’s how any of us feel. Sure, we’ve played around with a perfect scenario in our head that seems like it could work for us. We have also played around with all kinds of other wild ideas. The ones where we pick up and travel for a while, or the ones where we move to a city completely unknown and try to start a career. We cling to the fantasies where we begin a life somewhere new and unique.
Our young minds are buzzing with possibilities.
The thing is, the world is also buzzing with possibilities. Certain opportunities come up that we don’t expect. We see a job posting by chance and apply or we make a new friend in class who ends up being a close friend and asks you to go backpacking in Europe with her. We fall in love. In these years we are incredibly vulnerable to new experiences and opportunities leading us in a new direction, allowing us to find new interests, passions, and career goals.
This doesn’t exactly give for an excellent answer to the question, where will I be in 5 years? The only true answer I could really come up with is:
“I don’t know. I hope happy somewhere.”
I started thinking about this more extensively and realized that if I put more thought into this answer, I could maybe make something out of it. I asked myself what I DO know about the next 5 years?
I know that I have direction. I have goals for myself to gain real-world experience, and to get a job after college that I enjoy.
I know that I have a goal to travel. I want to build cultural intelligence. I want to meet new people and I want to build myself as a person.
I know that whatever I do, I want to do it with magnitude. I want to apply myself to the best of my ability in everything I do over the next 5 years.
I know that I don’t know what will cross my path in the next 5 years, but I will take all options into consideration.
Now, I know you weren’t paying attention in Mr. Jones’ senior year math class in high school between all the vodka sodas gone wrong, the college apps and the epic pool party post prom. So, let me remind you of a little math trick and my secret answer to this difficult and impossible question of where l will be in 5 years.
I am a vector.
a quantity having direction as well as magnitude, especially as determining the position of one point in space relative to another.
I have direction, I have magnitude and I have the ambition and resources to take me to a given point. In 5 years time, I will have achieved this direction and this magnitude with every opportunity that crosses my path.
New opportunities may arise in my life, as well as new passions, or new goals. Even though I know the general direction to success, I still want a life full of choices and happiness. I want to have experiences that I feel confident I can use to leverage myself moving forward.
I am young and I have so much yet to learn.
I am adaptable, not yet adapted and
I am comfortable with the uncomfortable.
I am a vector and I am excited about where this might take me.
And no, please don’t ask me about my 10 year plan.
Featured Image via Rachel Holden