I know it’s been a while since I last posted. Six months ago, I would’ve been livid at myself for waiting this long and sabotaging the blog’s growth like this. But it’s today. And I’m here. And I’m writing again. I’ve spent the last few weeks spending time with loved ones and accomplishing some great self-discovery by way of therapy and some inspirational reading. So I have no regrets for how I’ve spent my time. That’s all. Let’s get back into it, shall we?
“Where do you see yourself in five years?”
I’ve grown to dislike this question. As someone who is always interested in planning and being prepared for, well, life, I don’t dislike it because it asks me to look forward. I dislike it because I think it expects a certain kind of answer.
The Interviewer’s Mindset
In my experience (and perhaps this is because I’ve mostly heard this question from interviewers), this question asks you to estimate the amount of success you’ll attain in the next five years. But that’s not just any definition of success. How much Western Capitalist success will you grab for yourself?
But maybe I don’t want to see my life like an Arthur Miller play. Maybe my vision of success is so far removed from theirs that I don’t even feel comfortable using the word “success” anymore.
Maybe, Interviewer, I don’t feel like giving you an answer so you can determine if my value measures up to what you’d prefer for my life. Scratch that—not my life, the ideal candidate’s life.
An Answer I Can’t Compete With
I think that the person asking this question almost always has an answer in mind. That person has dreamed up a persona that darts through crowds of others, deftly seizes a trophy, and then stands, shining, on a pedestal five years from now. I’ve found that my trophy doesn’t look like others’. More accurately, I’m not even going after a trophy at all.
Where do I see myself in five years? Hmm, here. I see myself living. Hopefully knowing myself five years better than I know myself know, whatever that looks like. I see myself continuing to do things I love. I see myself with my friends and family.
You may be thinking, what about your career? I have no idea what my career will look like in five years. Two years ago, when I started my current job, there’s no way I could’ve known that I’d be doing what I’m doing now. That’s partially because I work in a field that changes rapidly (and I’m not steeped in it enough to make five-year projections) and partially because, well, I don’t care to guess. It doesn’t interest me.
If you want to know that I’m a motivated goal-setter who will be a hardworking employee, that’s not the way to ask me. I will be motivated. I will work hard and probably go beyond what you expect of me in many ways, but I will not set goals. Not personal goals, at least.
An Act of Respect
I don’t have a five-year plan as an act of self-respect. I don’t like who I become when I’m trying to impress others, and that’s what all of my goals have always been rooted in. I’ve never set a goal that was solely for me. You know why? Because it is simply not in my nature to set goals. I set goals out of obligation, or out of some deep-seated desire to please others in an attempt to be accepted.
But I’ve given that up! What good is it to be accepted for something that I’m not? I’m not a goal-setter. If you don’t understand that, that’s fine. Just know that I’m not broken, and I’m not lazy. And I won’t be in five years, either. I don’t like setting benchmarks for myself. I prefer to open myself up and see what happens. I may aim in a particular direction, but I will not cause myself undue stress by pressuring myself.
That’s what goals feel like to me, pressure. Pressure that I don’t want and don’t need.
For me, not having a five-year plan is not only a way for me to respect my own nature, but to also respect the world around me. I submit. I won’t be a plastic bag in the wind, but I’d love to be a tree that bends with breezes while still being firmly rooted in a strong sense of self. That’s what pleases me. Perhaps this is what other people feel when they’ve made personal goals or accomplished them?
I feel pride and I value myself when I am true to my own needs and desires. I don’t have them wrapped in a five-year package, but I’d be happy to tell you the million different paths I daydream of for myself if you’d care enough to ask me that instead.