I was on a lunch outing with someone dear to me and they asked where I saw myself in five years. If only I could have answered that, considering how extensively I have pondered it.
It's the same with coworkers, the alumni office, in job interviews. They always want to know what your schedule is. The older I get, the more this question is dropped in my lap, a puppy vying for attention - but I don't like dogs and they make me uncomfortable.
Above all, let me express that I find this question is fundamentally wrong. You're not really getting a sense of a person or what they think they want by asking this question. Everything can change in five years. I could be doing what I've always dreamed of or the same things I am now or I could be dead. Don't limit me and respect that not knowing can be a positive thing.
Five years is a minute and a lifetime.
Don't misread me - goals are good. Plans? Make them! But don't try to schedule life. I don't know who my closest friends will be or where I'll be living or what sort of job I'll have - and I think that's awesome! Guys, the possibilities... They are endless because I'm not trying to enclose myself in any sort of box. By not being able to answer that question, I'm giving myself freedom to change and grow and make decisions that maybe others would otherwise label uncharacteristic of me.
I want to be whoever I will feel best as in that time period.
Maybe I will be happy with who I've become (I certainly hope my personality never stagnates) and maybe I will strongly feel I need to work on it because I can be better, either towards myself or others.
As humans, we are sentimental about the past. I aim to also be sentimental about the future. We leave time capsules - whether they are planted in the earth or on a folder in a thumb drive - and we revisit them. I really do hope that one of the best things I can do for myself is to let myself evolve as a person in an organic fashion, with peace of mind. There is no shame in maturing or making mistakes or trying new things.
I often leave notes or end emails to friends with "stay true to you" - and I say that because I would never ask them to change - or to not change. They should do what they believe is best for them, regardless of whether I agree. Friendship is support, not permission or agreement.
In return I request a simple thing: let me stay true to me. In order to do that, trust me, I need space to explore who I may be in five years and whether I will be here or there, with the same or different people in my life.
Allow me my journey.