Four Hearts and 1000 Plans


By Makenna Doty

I was cleaning out my car yesterday (okay no I was sitting in the drive-thru line, digging up quarters for my gas station soda) and I found a necklace. It’s a thin copper chain with four heart outlines right in the middle. This necklace came from a small boutique in my college town. My older sister purchased it for me as a graduation gift. I remember my flight home at the end of that semester. I was so proud of myself. I had a plan. I had a job. I had a ton of experience and even more memories. I had a home to go back to. My dad had bought me a first class ticket.

I remember clutching those four little hearts as the plane took off- my own heart beating out of control. A few little ice crystals had formed on my window and reminded me of that first snow my freshman year. We flew over little squares of farmland and my mind returned to those summer nights when I would run miles past those potato fields of eastern Idaho.

Remember that plan I mentioned? That plan changed. Money and cars and jobs are complicated. I started a nanny job which wasn’t exactly the Devil Wears Prada type of job I imagined after 4 years of school. It was summer, so I told myself I would use the next few months to save some money, and look for a job elsewhere. I made another plan. I worked at this plan. I failed at this plan. BIG TIME.

I dreamed of moving out of state, getting a job where I could utilize all my experience, and start my own life. I scheduled phone interviews around my days spent dropping a six-year-old off at summer camp. I skyped with potential employers while on vacation. An offer finally came and things started falling into place.

THIS! This is what I worked and prayed for, right? I moved out of state, traveled a bit for work, and created my own little universe at the foot of the mountains.

And guess what. The plan changed again. And again. And again.

A lot of people ask me about what to do after college, what to study, what job to take. I think every one has a thousand different paths and opportunities. Set a goal and work towards that. Be open to change and advice. Maybe you take one job, even if it isn’t your dream, and you meet someone there who leads you to your next job. When plans change it doesn’t have to be a failure. Your life isn’t a recipe. There’s no directions or exact measurements when it comes to experience and learning. A plan teaches you to prepare and work; to be flexible and realistic. It’s like when they say to shoot for the moon because you’re bound to land among some stars.

If everything had worked out “according to plan” I’m sure I would be happy, but I wouldn’t be here. I’ve eaten macarons in Central Park, hiked through red rock in Southern Utah, declined a hundred job offers, run out of gas on the side of the road, talked my way out of a ticket, cried to the girl at In-n-Out because “today was just hard”. I’ve met amazing people, had really raw and honest conversations, achieved goals and made some huge mistakes. All those previous plans have brought me to this place, where I’m constantly plotting and scheming.

So let’s go back to that girl on the plane. That girl holding that copper chain too tight. She’s got a brain in her head and a heart that beats in her chest. She doesn’t know the twists and turns and tears ahead, but she’s got a plan.

Right now I’m in the middle of another change. Probably a hundred changes actually. Two years later, I still hold that necklace in my hand, and who knows what’s next.

Makenna is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty On Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click HERE.

{featured image via unsplash}

3 thoughts on “Four Hearts and 1000 Plans

  1. Ellen Ta says:

    HI Makenna,

    I’m really happy to read your post because I’m just about to finish college and all everyone ever asks me is what do I plan to do after. While I have a rough plan it’s not set in stone and I’m sure that like you it will change time and time again. I’m just glad I have someone to relate to so that adulthood doesn’t feel so foreign and scary. 🙂


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