Predicting the Future: Are You Ready for What Comes Next?

I’ve always had a strange fascination with the future. As a kid, I was mesmerized by the notion of fortune tellers and palm readers. I wanted to see my future laid out before me like a map indicating where I would travel and where I would land.

But deep down, I feared that same future. What if hardships stood before me? What if pain, poverty, or illness stood between points A and B? Would I want to know in advance?

Years ago, I underwent genetic testing through 23andme. Having undergone DNA testing throughout my infertility struggles, I was no stranger to the process, but as I opened the page that held my lab results, I felt my heart racing inside my chest. 

Do I Want to Know My Fate?

Did I want to know my fate? Suddenly, I wasn’t so sure. 

After reading the results, I told my brother I’d taken the test.

“Don’t tell me any of it,” he said firmly and loudly. “I don’t want to know!”

“What if you could begin a treatment that would save you,” I asked. 

“I don’t want that thought lingering in my head,” he said. “Knowing would only cause me to worry.”

In my early thirties, a friend of mine from college died of Huntington’s Disease. Her father died of the same disease decades earlier, but her mom never told her.

Would it have been a blessing or a curse to know? What would she have done if she understood how little time she had to spend on this earth? Would she have skipped college to explore the world while she was well, or would the worry have tormented her?

What Does the Future Hold?

I have no idea what my future holds, but I do my darnedest to prepare for it. I save money in retirement accounts, dutifully pay off my mortgage, and pile chunks of cash in my kid’s college funds. 

I go to the gym four days a week and try to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. As if doing so will guarantee a happy, healthy, successful path to old age.

I do my best to stave off the adverse events that could unfold. But the truth is, many dreadful things have already happened to me, and planning wouldn’t have stopped any of them.

In my mid-twenties, I barely survived multiple pulmonary embolisms and the six-month medical journey to discover their cause. In my early thirties, I suffered from infertility. Then finally gave birth to my first child three weeks before being laid off from my job. 

In my late thirties, a deranged contractor assaulted my husband in the workplace. Shortly after that, our company failed due to unimaginable mental distress.

A few months ago, I lost my dad, one of my favorite people in the world, to cancer.

A Future Full of Rainbows and Unicorns

As a kid, I wanted my future to be full of rainbows and unicorns, a successful life free of emotional or physical burdens. Some people might win the lottery of life without a tragedy or difficulty, but that’s not been true for me.

What would a fortune teller have told me when I was a teenager? I have no idea. What I do know is that life rarely goes off with a hitch. Our trials and tribulations are different, but few of us walk into the future without strife.

The Uncertainty of it All

Perhaps, the question isn’t whether or not I want to know what will happen, but rather knowing that I will get through the adverse events that are sure to occur.

We fear the future because we fail to remember how often we find the strength to push through the obstacles that stand before us.

When we think about tomorrow, we picture success, achievements, and sunny day scenarios and make decisions to avoid rainy days, failures, and mistakes. 

But we can’t control the future or predict it. Growing up, my phone was firmly attached to my parent’s kitchen wall. A few decades later, I carry a cell phone that can hold all the information the world has ever known. Who would’ve guessed that?

Would I want my childhood self to know my life’s path? No. I wouldn’t have been ready for the knowledge.

As my brother suggested, I would’ve worried about the future but not understood that time would give me the strength and conviction to push through it.

The Lens We Use to Evaluate Life

After my pulmonary embolisms, subsequent surgeries, and a five-month absence, I returned to work as a software engineer. I was twenty-seven years old and in deep physical pain, yet I told my coworker I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.

“How can you feel lucky?” she asked. “If that happened to me, I wouldn’t use the word luck.”

As she walked away from my cubical, I thought about her words. I still think about them today. 

Finding the Strength

Months before I got sick, I would’ve felt similarly. How can blood clots make you feel lucky? How can months of worry and severe physical pain make you feel fortunate?

I was blessed to be alive and to see the world through a new lens. If I’d never gotten sick, I wouldn’t have realized the value of life, left my high-paying career in my mid-thirties, started this blog, or spent the last decade as a stay-at-home mom

I might not have treasured the last year with my father or understood that money and company accolades are not the only signs of success.

Sometimes we fear the future only to realize that a negative moment can forever change us and make us better versions of ourselves.

Do I want to know the future? No. In some ways, I want to keep dreaming of rainbows, unicorns, and sunny day scenarios. But I also want to remember that I am strong enough to push through the bad stuff.

When facing an unknown future, difficult events seem impossible to overcome. Would I choose an optimistic scenario or opt for the gloomy clouds that might line my path? As strange as it sounds, I can’t confidently answer that.

How to Predict the Future

I can’t predict the future that will come my way. Will it be filled with good or bad events? I have no idea. But I must remember to embrace the unexpected because sometimes, unwelcome moments help me grow in surprising ways.

Rather than crossing my fingers and hoping to avoid the negative possibilities, I must learn to accept the obstacles that come before me. I can’t predict the future, but I hope to find the skills, strength, and support to learn from it.

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