Is Thinking About the Future a Sin?


Thinking ahead to "our place in the future” is not as daunting as you might think—so don't spend time worrying about it. Here's why.
Photo by Bogdan Sonjachnyj/

Do you find yourself looking ahead and worrying about “your place” in the future?

As my last days as an undergraduate approach, my steps are heavy, and quite honestly, my burden is not light. At least it feels this way.

You see, I have this habit. Each day, sometime around the afternoon, just as the sun’s rays are starting to fizzle, I catch myself worrying about my future. During these times, my professors’ words go numb in my head, and I can’t seem to hear much anymore. There’s a buzzing sensation in my hands and legs. It’s chilling, and I know it well. It feels like worry.

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It is difficult to pinpoint what exactly I think about in these sun-drenched times because blank worry is the overwhelming impression. I do know, however, that I often picture a-few-months-down-the-line me back at home, completely unaware of my purpose on this planet. I imagine that graduation marks a slope that drops off into an abysmal lifetime of me searching aimlessly to contribute something to the world. Yes, this is a sad reality, but really, I go through this kind of mental theater daily.

I am paralyzed by my fear that my future will not amount to anything fulfilling, worthwhile or impactful, and for whatever reason, I can think of nothing more frightening.

I have been seeking healthy ways to combat my late afternoon lapses, and it seems that not many distracting activities are cutting it for me. I know I’m not the only student or young adult who feels this way, and I want to reach out an empathetic hand of help to you if you know what I mean—if you are worrying as well.

There is one easy and wonderful change I have made right at the epicenter of this fearful thinking, and in a small way, it has actually been helping me to think differently about my future. Well… that’s just it. I have stopped allowing myself to use the phrase “my future.” I have begun to permit myself only to use the phrase, “the future.”

This is a slight linguistic difference, but I have found the fruits of it to be mind-altering. When I am sitting in a chair in a brightly lit classroom, sun streaks glinting off the board and my professor’s voice beginning to drone on about statistics, I am far less sucked under by the idea that I will soon be entering into a lifetime of engaging with the future than I am by my future. “My future” is far too much pressure. When I use this phrase, I find myself placing the expanse of time before me like a robe at my back. I lay it on my quivering shoulders, and I cannot bear the weight of worrying. Owning the future is beyond me, and it is beyond each of us.

Looking forward to “my place in the future” is not so daunting. I can handle carrying a piece of the puzzle. In fact, this is all I know how to do. I have a finite amount of skills, talents and energy, and I can picture myself contributing something this way much easier.

As we think ahead, let’s engage with mindsets less concerned with ownership and more concerned with the teamwork.

The fear enters when we take hold of “the future” by ourselves, which, surprising to the worrier, no one is asking us to do. I find that those of us today who are on the brink of being set loose into the big world put pressure on ourselves to change it altogether. So much change needs to happen. So many injustices are asking for our activism.

What we cannot fail to remember in this is that we do not conquer any part of “the future” on our own.

To be true, we are being aloof when we think we can, or—when we picture ourselves floundering alone in the months to come. “The future” is most definitely, necessarily, full of collaboration. It is at the hands of all people. So, as we think ahead, let’s engage with mindsets less concerned with ownership and more concerned with the teamwork. I know I have to, otherwise, I will continue to leave statistics class with tight fists and a numb skull, and then I really won’t be helping anyone anytime soon.


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