Tuesday Truths: On Uncertainty
Lindsay is one of my best friends. She is this vivacious, loud, energetic and spontaneous soul who the reserved, mellow and sometimes shy person I am is constantly enamored by. I’ve known Lindsay for over ten years, as we met when I pledged my sorority my freshman year in college. Throughout that time, she’s been the friend who has pushed me the most to become more well-rounded, to accept challenges and confront fears.
Last week, Lindsay and I had a great talk about uncertainty. I feel like if there is one word to define a 20-something’s life, it is “uncertainty.” During the course of our call, I laid out everything in my life that is uncertain right now (trust me, there’s a lot). Once I was finished venting about it, I did the typical Alicia thing and said, “ugh” and then let out a heavy and sarcastic breath.
Given that Lindsay is one of my best friends, I expected her to say something like, “Oh, I’m so sorry” or “I can understand why you are frustrated.” Rather, she gave me a better answer than I could have ever imagined. She said, “Uncertainty is kind of cool.”
Uncertainty is kind of cool.
Since our conversation, “uncertainty is kind of cool” has nearly become my mantra. There are a lot of things on my plate right now, that where they end up remains totally uncertain. The amount of these things is very nearly enough to drive someone crazy. That is because, these are big, life-changing issues. Yet, while I could be currently going through a state of unraveling over them and fretting about their outcome, I have just been reminding myself that uncertainty is kind of cool.
Uncertainty is kind of cool, because uncertainty is a driving force of life. Imagine if you woke up each and every day, and knew exactly what would happen to you. Since my conversation with Lindsay, I’ve realized that it is the uncertainty–or rather, surprises–in life that make it interesting. If you knew everything that was going to happen to you in a given day, what would be your motivation for waking up? While I have definitely been surprised by some negative things a few days in my life, like my dad being diagnosed with cancer, most of the surprises that pop up in my daily life are positive and exciting. I think it would be safe to say that such is true for most other people.
As a single 28-year-old whose agent is pitching her for her dream job, I admittedly often find myself jealous of my friends who are already married with children and will likely be working in the same career for a significant period of time. Why am I jealous of them? I’m jealous of them because their life appears to be so certain. Prior to realizing the power of uncertainty, in my eyes, my life seemed like a large Monet painting, where there’s paint scattered all over the place in uncertain strokes, only to build what is hopefully a beautiful outcome. Then, I recognized that my uncertainties are just different from theirs. Due to the fact that we are at different stages of life, their uncertainties have taken on different forms than mine. No longer do they fret over whether the person they want to give their heart to feels the same way. Rather, they probably fret over the health, well-being and future possibilities of their children. Needless to say, wherever you are in life, we all find ourselves riding as passengers in the uncertainty boat.
Here is what I know: Everything that is uncertain now will become certain at some point. That boy you’d let have your heart? He’s either going to make a move, or he isn’t. If he does, wonderful. If he doesn’t, you’ll move on. That job that holds your dreams? It’s either going to become yours or it isn’t. If it does, amazing. If it doesn’t, you’ll still be provided for.
There’s an old saying that only two things are certain in life: death and taxes. To that list, I’d add uncertainty. The neat thing though, is that when you approach uncertainty as a positive, exciting thing, it no longer is a burden, but rather, something you nearly look forward to. Since Lindsay and I had our talk, I’ve woke up each morning excited for the possibilities that lie ahead. Each morning, I wake up and say, “maybe this is the day that this issue becomes certain.” And when I go to bed that night and it still remains uncertain, I know that I am one day closer to finding my answer. Choosing to accept and embrace uncertainty at this point of my life has been freeing.
Over the last week, I have been thinking a lot about Jeremiah 29:11:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
What may appear uncertain in our waking lives is the certain plan of the Lord. I am a firm believer that everyday of our lives was planned out before we were born. The neat thing, though, is that our lives were not planned for destruction, failure, hurt or to be harmed. Rather, there is great comfort to be found in the fact that the Lord’s plans are for us to be prosperous, receive hope and have a future. Take that, uncertainty!
I believe that uncertainty so often haunts us, because we put too much emphasis on a particular outcome. By emphasizing too strongly on a certain outcome, we come to believe that it is the only outcome that will foster our happiness. This type of thinking breeds pain when life hands you the outcome you didn’t prepare for. Thus, it is for this reason that I have welcomed uncertainty into my life and have begun to stop dwelling on outcomes. Whatever will be, will be. But, I know that I will prosper and move forward with hope to my future.