After The Crown

Fighting The “What’s Next” Paradox

It happens at least once a day. The question’s asked in a harmless manner but hits my ears like nails on a chalkboard. I am unable to embrace it, even though it always always always arrives.

“So, now that that’s over, what’s next for you, Hilary?”

While all my energy goes to keeping a pleasant look on my face, my train of thought typically goes something like this: a;lkfjd;bnad;ofjndas;bkmvda;fjdaso;fij SERIOUSLY?!

And then I smile, and calmly explain that while I may have given up my title as Miss Nevada, I am currently working on pursuing many new projects that I’m not quite ready to reveal. But there is a lot coming soon! (Deep breath).

Of course, this explanation is secondary to the one in my head going, “WHO are YOU to judge ME and MY life progress? I don’t NEED to do ANYTHING. None of us do! But the reality is, I don’t know what’s next. And it’s KILLING ME.” And then my brain cells die from stress.

It’s such a tiny, simple, benevolent question by curious minds. And yet somehow every day when I hear it, I melt down. It’s a problem. My inability to cope is so catastrophic you may as well pour water on me and call me the Wicked Witch. I become a puddle.

WWW4

I suppose if I was feeling more secure in my life I wouldn’t react to this question with such disdain and insecurity. But I don’t have the answer, no matter the BS I float your way. I really have NO idea what happens now. And that terrifies me.

My name is Hilary and I have a problem: I don’t know how to live in the moment.

Sure, I live a lot of really cool moments, and after the fact I look back on them with happiness.

Mark Cuban & Hilary edit

But all too often by the time I’m able to enjoy it, my mind is already on to the next thing.

I’d like to blame society, personally. We live in a world where we are obsessed with the What’s Next Paradox. We’re constantly reaching for something bigger and better because we can’t be still. And once we reach our goal, we want “more” and start reaching for something bigger and better. It’s a vicious circle where which leads to societal progress but personal dissatisfaction… Unless you’re Yoda.

Why can’t we take a minute to enjoy what just happened to us? Hell, I just spent a YEAR of my life wearing a tiara, doing community service, and meeting celebrities. Why am I NOT taking a victory lap and celebrating that?

Hilary Evening Gown 3

The truth is I don’t know how. I need the safety of knowing what’s coming next and why I’m going to pursue it.

So what if my only plan involves sitting in the dark and watching Netflix for three days straight because I have nothing better to do? Why does it matter to anyone else around me? And why can’t I just do something to do it? Why does there always HAVE to be a reason?

Instead of celebrating how far we’ve come, we’re always stuck wanting, pushing, and looking into the future. And even more devastating, we’re always questioning why we’re venturing there instead of just doing it like Nike says.

Why Did the Chicken Cross the road

It’s looking like instead of offering an adventure, the Universe is posing a challenge… One I think I’m quickly failing at.

How can I be stationary and be okay with it?

But seriously, Universe, when can we shake hands and recognize that I am NOT the person to ‘let it be’? As much as I’d like to, I’m no Beatle.

Patience kills me every time. Sigh.

13 Comments

  • Reply

    Music TJ

    July 31, 2014

    Yup, living in the moment has evaded me for as long as I can remember. When you figure it out, do share.

    • Reply

      Hilary

      August 1, 2014

      I certainly will. I’m holding you to do the same if you get there first. ;)

  • Reply

    Grandma

    August 1, 2014

    We think you need a vacation in Friendly Valley with us!!! We have the beautiful pool, air conditioning and US to tell you you are the best ever and we love you and after all these years Grandpa and I don’t have a clue how to “live in the moment”. We just do our best and love our family.
    Remember you are an unusual person in that you are beautiful inside and out and that is a huge accomplishment!

    • Reply

      Hilary

      August 7, 2014

      Thank you! I may just have to do that. :)

  • Reply

    Chris Lisanti

    August 2, 2014

    Be stoked on having some time to sit back and relax. Spent some time contemplating the amazing road you have been on. Sometimes a down period in life is a great time for to learn about oneself and how one has grown as a person.

    I understand your situation and feelings. When I was 19-21 I had a some what successful and crazy career in music. Some things went down that had me feeling very disillusioned with what I initially set out to accomplish thus I left the industry and moved back home to coastal New Jersey. Everyone kept asking me what was next and what I was going to do with music and it started to drive me crazy Then I realized I didn’t care what any of them thought and that after all I had been through I had no problem just hanging out and surfing. Yes I too locked myself in my apartment for like a week and watched every movie at Blockbuster.

    It was actually really nice after years of hard work and study in Music to have a break and not have a plan. I kicked for almost two years, then fell into a career in professional surfing that lasted till 2008 when the economy failed everyone. I was living part time between, Australia, Hawaii, California and New Jersey when it all went awry. I decided to camp out in Santa Barbara where I live now and figure out what to do next.

    I was super stressed out about losing my sponsors and in denial. I even kept their logos on my board for two months afterward. I made a sponsor me video and shoot tons of photos, kept competing. Nothing was going my way. Finally one day I was chilling at a little secluded beach I go to to have some self affirmation time up north and pulled all the stickers off my boards and just had a fun surf. No cameras, no audience, just me, the ocean and the dolphins.

    I went home and decided I was just going to kick it for a bit and enjoy everything in the immediate world around me. For another two years I worked a mellow job as a night gas station attendant, surfed all day and hung out. Then one day I remembered how much I loved to cook and applied for a job as a chef, got and began doing that.

    Since then I found a balance where I do some surfing work mostly through writing these days, take on the occasional music project if I believe in it and cook really good Italian food. At the moment I am in the grass roots process of maybe opening up an Italian restaurant. Why am I boring you with all this? To show you I understand.

    I have been reading your blog for years now and remember the days when I was globe trotting around the world and doing all sorts of crazy things as well. All I am saying is sometimes its ok to just chill and hang out and let the next chapter of your life unravel itself. Then again I have always been a transcendentalist so keep that in mind. Anyhow good luck with it all and if you ever want to talk to someone who understands feel free to hit me up on my blog SurfingRuinedMylife.net.

    Chris Lisanti

    • Reply

      Hilary

      August 7, 2014

      Hey Chris,

      So good to hear from you again after all this time! I remember our comment conversations back and forth very well! I’m very grateful you chose to reach out and share your story.

      I guess that’s part of the problem with human ego, isn’t it? We all think we’re immune to the necessary ‘repose’ times in our lives. While I’m having a hard time with it, I suppose it’s what i need at the moment.

      Thank you for continuing to bring me perspective after all these years. Say hi to the dolphins for me! :)

  • Reply

    Libby Adams

    August 4, 2014

    Hilary, I feel we all have situations like this sometime in our life. I used to be impatient for the next big thing. I’ve always been busy and when I found myself not busy, I panicked and worried about what I was going to do next. Now I don’t do that anymore. Recently, I’ve done a couple of different things to help my think things through. Earlier this year I found a beach and did some walking and thinking. I find it soothing with the water lapping at my feet while I think. The other thing I do is go for my daily walk. We have a one mile walking trail and I do my walking and thinking this way almost every day. The only time I don’t go out is when it’s pouring rain. It’s different for everyone Hiliary. Don’t think too hard. You need to let things go and it will come to you on a subconscious level. Do other things to keep yourself busy. Whether it’s cleaning out your closet, your house, helping a friend out, whatever. Our next big thing will always come to us when we least expect it. I know because that’s how my next big things always come to me. Good luck Hilary and I hope what I’ve said makes sense to you. Let us know when you’ve realized your next big thing!

    • Reply

      Hilary

      August 7, 2014

      Thank you for the advice, Libby! I really appreciate it. I’m currently on the hunt for ‘my thing’ to calm my mind but I feel like it’s near. It’s always nice to hear what someone else has gone through and learn from their wisdom. :)

  • Reply

    Gene

    August 4, 2014

    You’ve done so much in such a short time that it is to be commended. That doesn’t mean you have to top every adventure with something “bigger and better”. No. It’s flows like water. There can be crashing waves of excitement or beautiful calms of introspection. Its ever-changing and always flowing. We adjust our course to follow what we desire at that moment.

    I think of all the great adventurers I’ve read about: Joshua Slocum, Jeff Spivey, Mark A. Smith; They’ve all done epic adventure and had to deal with the same question that haunts you now. For each person there was a different answer. This is because they knew the question was wrong. It’s not, “What’s next?” It’s “What would make you happy… today, tonight, tomorrow?”

    For me, it would be a little sleep. I’ll worry about tomorrow tomorrow. :)

    • Reply

      Hilary

      August 7, 2014

      Well this is so on point it stings. Wrong question, indeed. Thank you, as always, for the knowledge and perspective. Seems like I have a few things to think on. :)

  • Reply

    Lynn

    August 8, 2014

    I had this “What’s next?” thing down, Conquered a lot of Mountains, Toured Europe as a lead singer, Modelled, Wrote books, spent 3 days in the Mexican desert alone, Had ten minutes of fame, Became a Dr. opened a practice for ten years, Got three record contracts, Started a Foundation for orphans in Africa where we have funded 13 water well projects and feed an estimated 4000 kids. (Not enough) And then I GOT SICK. SO sick that everything (I do mean everything) went away. Except for GOD. The newspaper articles stopped, the blog for a National magazine stopped, the record labels stopped calling, the booking agent stopped calling, my manager stopped calling. Most of my friends stopped calling after a time. No more book signings, or meet and greets or photo sessions or recording sessions. It all stopped. No more Income. I relied on the goodness of my Dad to carry me. My husband has taken a break from his construction career to try and be home with me more. We are flat broke and every day I question “What’s next?” MY POINT dear Grasshopper girl, Beauty queen, blogger, fearless mini me I don’t want you to make the same mistake I did. YOU ARE NOT WHAT YOU DO…You are who you are. GOD made you unique and gifted and beautiful and it can all be taken in a second. WHO are you deep in your soul sweet girl? You and only you can get your priorities straight and please believe me when I share, it is not the next interview or title. Its you. AND YOU are simply magnificent. Come visit me in the garden soon ok?

  • Reply

    Zoe

    August 8, 2014

    Amen to that! Hope you’re well, I love reading about your adventures!
    Lots of love from London,
    Zoe x

  • Reply

    Elly

    August 11, 2014

    What a great post! Hilary you always manage to make me laugh, make me think, and make me realize I’m not alone. What should you do? Keep doing what you’re doing. You’re a star. Love you oodles xoxoxoxo

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About Me

About Me

Hey fellow adventurers, my name is Hilary! After being rejected from grad school, I took off on a solo journey around the world. Now I constantly challenge myself to take on new experiences. This blog documents my journeys from Europe to Fiji, swimming with sharks and living with tribes, to becoming an accidental beauty queen and working for one of the top national media outlets. If you like what you're reading, please subscribe! Here's to the next great adventure!

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