The fall season brings about many changes, and as I sat outside and observed some of them -- the leaves changing, temperatures dropping, and people preparing for holidays, to name a few -- I got to thinking about life changes.

As human beings, we all make plans and work toward goals and expect things to turn out the way we want them to because that's how we're designed and that's what we've constantly been taught. But what if plans go wrong? What if perfect takes a sharp left-turn into the unwanted and unexpected? It can leave us confused and lost.

Unfortunately, I have found myself in such a time of change. So what do we do about it? The way I see it, we have two options: we can bury our heads in the sand and vainly wish for our problems to just go away, or, we can stand up straight, brush ourselves off, buckle down, and roll with the punches. Sure, we may not have any idea what we're doing for a while (as is my predicament right now), but by simply choosing to take things one day at a time, one step at a time, and take them as they come, maybe we can live through enough days and little lessons to steer us in the right direction. Sometimes, it takes trial and error. Most times, this process isn't short, sweet, fun, or pretty. But it is necessary.

The thing is, society places each and every one of us into a mold -- we're expected to go through four or five years of early childhood, six years of elementary school, three years of middle school, four years of high school, and four years of college (no more, no less) and straight into the rest of our lives. Meanwhile, how much do these standardized educations teach us about ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses, our God-given gifts, and our paths for the future?

Here's the flaw with the molds: we are all different, and we were never designed to be forced into someone else's expectations of who we are and how we do life. Somehow, though, we've ended up there. I say all that to say this: up until a few years ago, I strictly adhered to this mold. I knew what my plans were, and I was going to graduate in exactly four years and go straight to work, just like society expected me to. What I didn't count on were the obstacles that constantly got thrown into my path, and that are still getting thrown in. As a result, my path has changed direction several times and gotten delayed for a little while -- and I'm slowly learning that that's OK.

True, I didn't adhere to the mold, but that's because I was never meant to in the first place. I'll be honest: I don't really know where my path is going to take me, and right now I just don't have a plan. But you know what? That's OK. It's OK for me and it will be OK for you if you find yourself in the same sort of situation. Just take life as it comes and learn about yourself before learning anything else. That's the most important lesson to gain in this situation. Above all, don't let anyone else force you into some societal expectation just because it's the norm. Normal isn't real. Typical isn't real. Life is real, and real is unique to each and every one of us. When plans change, learn to adapt and work through things as best you can. Eventually, you will get where you're going. Just have faith and keep on moving; shine on, you gem -- you can do this.