Why We Should Learn To Embrace Uncertainty In Life
March 19, 2016
When you really think about it, nothing is certain in life. Despite our best-laid plans, events can come up seemingly out of nowhere and throw us for a loop. We convince ourselves that we are in ultimate control of our own lives. Newsflash! We’re not.
The game of life isn’t designed to cater to our every whim, giving us all that we want and never allowing us to experience adversity. If that were true we’d all be laying around on sun-loungers eating bonbons. For if we always get what we want, pretty soon we’ll stop striving at all and start acting like a spoiled four year old. The point is we’re here at this time on Planet Earth to evolve, to grow and to learn.
Instead of choosing to fear uncertainty by blockading our lives with stone pillars of certainty; a regular paycheck at a job that doesn’t fulfill us, a daily routine that brings no joy, in essence a ‘safe’ life. Perhaps we should explore the unknown. Ask ourselves what we are really afraid of in relinquishing control.
As a former certainty addict, I experienced firsthand the trials and tribulations of trying to micromanage my life into a known quantity. In controlling all aspects from my job to my relationship, I thought I was creating a safe place for myself. What I was actually doing was digging a human sized rut, climbing in and refusing to budge.
The problem with staking out a safe place for ourselves is that the harder we cling to it, the faster it crumbles. Despite reinforcing my rut with the strongest foundations I could find, the universe had other ideas and within 12 months it pulled me out of my makeshift rut kicking and screaming.
My long-term relationship of 11 years finally shuddered to a halt and left me stranded out on the open highway, faced with nothing but a long road ahead named uncertainty.
The universe is nothing if not sneaky when she chooses to dole out her life wake-up calls. Knowing my fear of uncertainty, things had become so toxic in my relationship that I had no choice but to hold up a white handkerchief and surrender.
My ex and I could no longer bear to be in the same room together without it spiraling into a volley of insults and simmering resentment. Clearly something had to give. That something was me. And so, I began the work of disentangling myself from all that I had known for over a decade and chose to start all over again.
As it turned out, starting afresh was the best decision I made in quite some time. Whilst it will probably go down as one of the most difficult periods of my life, it taught me so much and opened my eyes to the possibilities of life.
I learnt that I had been choosing to traverse the well-trod path whilst desperately trying to avoid the potholes of uncertainty. What I failed to realize is that sometimes in life we need to fall down a pothole, reach rock bottom if you will, if only to wake ourselves up from the slumber of living an entirely predictable life.
I learnt that I had held onto the relationship for far too long. I had clung to it much like a safety net. Instead of admitting that the glue that had previously bound us together had come unstuck, I soldiered on. I was forcing a situation that could no longer be forced and I discovered that I was doing this for one simple reason. I was scared. Scared of uncertainty, scared of the prospect of being single again. Scared that I wouldn’t find anyone else to love, scared of what people would think.
Unbeknownst to me, I had let these fears invade my life and hijack my choices in life. Every decision I had made in the last few years was fear based. I continually chose the safe option. But I quickly learned that playing safe in life is akin to seeking adventure but refusing to leave your house. It got me nowhere.
So I decided to pursue my adventure, this time for real. I started asking myself what I really wanted out of life. Who do I want to be? What do I really want to do? This experience had clearly shown me that if we want to achieve anything in life, we cannot do so from the confines of a comfort zone.
We need to push ourselves in order to see what we are made of. Challenge our fears even if it scares us. Be brave and show up for ourselves even when no one else will. For it is in this vital inner work that we can begin to connect with who we really are. And once we reconnect with our true essence we can begin to operate our lives from this place, instead of operating out of fear.
It’s been a couple of years since I started operating from my authentic self and already my life looks completely different. Once I ended my relationship I decided to change all the things that no longer made me happy. I cleaned house.
I quit my job of 10 years and found a position with a consulting firm, which allowed me a flexible schedule and time to write. I ended toxic friendships which opened up space for new likeminded friends to come into my life.
In choosing to face uncertainty rather than falling back on the familiar, I opened myself up to a plethora of new and exciting opportunities that are now streaming in. I still don’t know what’s around the next corner, but now this prospect thrills me instead of terrifying me.
Whilst the experience hasn’t been a bed of roses; believe me there have been plenty of thorns in my side throughout my journey. But it is in plucking out these thorns and examining their purpose that enables me to learn a little more about myself.
I learnt that whilst life can throw us curveballs, it throws us nothing that we cannot handle. Even if we don’t like it, we learn from it and it makes us stronger. It teaches us that the only certainty in life is uncertainty. So face it, embrace it and dare yourself to live the life you’ve always dreamed of.