How to Deal With the Unceratinty of Your Life
What if every time you went to the movies, read a book, or watched a TV show, you knew how it would end? Imagine knowing when every rise and fall would occur, every romance, every dramatic turn, and every change. Would you like that?
It is the very nature of uncertainty that keeps us entertained and stimulated. We’re enthralled by how characters navigate through the unpredictability of an adventure. Yet, when it comes to our own lives, the very idea of not knowing what our future will look like creates anxiety, stress, and discomfort. To a certain extent, this is a valid and beneficial evolutionary function. Our sensitivity to risk and potential danger is based on the degree of uncertainty we perceive. For example, if you’re rock climbing and it looks like a rock isn’t stable, you are less likely to cling onto that rock. This level of uncertainty is beneficial to keeping you safe and secure.
Our lives are a mixture of uncertainty and certainty. The challenge is finding the balance where we can optimally grow and evolve into the best versions of ourselves. The reality is that for many of us, the uncertainty we fear will not kill us. Far from it. Yet we dread the uncertainty of leaving an unfulfilling job or relationship or career path. We crave to know what is on the other side of the unknown.
But take a moment and think about how it would feel if you knew how the rest of your life would play out: When you would get married. When you would lose your job. When your friends would plan your surprise birthday. When you would get a promotion. When you would meet a life-changing friend.
Your life would be unbelievably boring. Certainty is a paradox. We hate it and love it at the same time. The idea of knowing provides comfort and certainty provides safety. However, constant certainty would likely result in a monotonous existence and knowing everything would prevent us from being stimulated, fully alive, and awake. In order to live life to the fullest, we must take risks, which require some level of uncertainty.
We must get comfortable with the discomfort of not knowing.
We must be able to sing and dance, even when we don’t know when the song will end. There is not a linear, certain path to success. The people thriving today had to sit with their uncertainty and take action anyway, in order to get where they are.
Recently, I found myself craving answers to the unknown. I’m beyond excited that my book is launching next week. This is a moment I’ve been working toward for over 16 months. While doing interviews, podcasts, and just talking with people, I keep getting asked: So what are you going to do after your book launch? At first, I found myself trying to rationalize and figure out a practical answer to give to whoever was asking. While I did provide truthful answers and gave general possibilities, my honest answer is:
I don’t know.
After realizing that I felt uncomfortable whenever I was asked this question, I knew I had to sit with it. Whenever I’m asked a question that triggers discomfort, there’s usually a truth to it that I need to examine.
Lately, I’ve been doing just that: sitting with it. I don’t know what my future will look like in a year, let alone in six months, and I’m fine with that. Right now, I’m focusing on my book launch, marketing, and getting it out to the world. I’m focusing on pursuing opportunities to speak wherever I can to share my story and the important message it contains.
But in terms of a job, and where I will be down the line? I don’t know. And I’m ok with that. The entire journey of Off the Beaten Trail stemmed from my willingness to accept the ambiguity of life and follow my intuition. Hopping on a one way flight to Guatemala with a backpack and spending four months without a real “plan” allowed me to experience the joys of uncertainty — and to embrace it. I plan to do the same now.
If you find yourself stressed, anxious, or uncomfortable about the uncertainty of your life, keep in mind how beautiful not knowing can be. Dive deep with your questions. Explore your doubts and confusion. Think about what lights up your soul. Have faith in who you are and have the courage to write your story, even if you don’t know how it will end. Life is like a song, and we shouldn’t wait until the end to realize we were supposed to sing and dance along the way.