The Back-Up Plan—Trust Me, You Need One, Too

It’s almost one in the morning, at the end of a spring break filled with waiting tables, gin and tonics and random acts of senseless adventure. Instead of being relaxed, however, I am forever uneasy, with a sickening knot in my stomach and a head that is aching.
You see, I’m the kind of person who likes making plans and sticking to them, especially when it comes to that little thing known as the future.
I thought I had it all figured out, I really did. Maybe it was just a bloated sense of idealism.
My four years at UC Irvine have consisted of commuting, classes and most importantly, living and breathing the New University newspaper, with the constant goal of making it big time at Vogue or Vanity Fair. But my goal always had two parts—the first of which was a graduate education that would further my knowledge of the craft.
After several quarters of giving up weekends, making formative decisions, learning more than any major could have taught me and writing about everything that seemed to be worth it, I was pretty confident that at least one damn graduate program would look at my application and see something special, a spark of magic or hope or value.
Imagine my disbelief when the bleak, thin rejection letters started rolling in one, two, three. Imagine spending all of your formative years aspiring toward one thing, only to realize that it may have all been a pipe dream.
You get the picture—I felt pretty worthless. The couch, the Bravo Network and my fuzzy blanket became my instant, if temporary, best friends. It was even harder to face my fellow staff members, who knew most about my plans and ambitions and might think less of me upon hearing of my embarrassing defeat. Even though part of me knew that last part wasn’t true, I still let myself wallow in misery for a short while.
Now that a few weeks have passed and time’s Band-Aid has started to take action, I’ve realized that my life is not going to live itself. I never had a back-up plan, but there’s no time like the present, especially when you have no other choice.
What is the moral of my sad story, you ask? It’s your lucky day—I’ll tell you.
While it is wonderful to dream and to work toward a goal, life doesn’t always go exactly the way you plan it. In fact, it usually doesn’t. Whether you are early or late in the undergraduate game, make sure to come up with an alternative life plan (or two). Prepare yourself for life’s curveballs, so you can face them with strength and logic when they come along. Everything