Lately, I’ve been contemplating my relationship with uncertainty.
I am not a fan.
In fact, I wrestle with uncertainty. I sometimes will make a crappy decision – one that I don’t feel good about – just so that things can be decided. Certain. Over and done with.
It’s not a good way to be, especially in a life that is filled with uncertainties, good and bad, nerve-wracking and wonderful.
Usually when I am wrestling with uncertainty, it’s because I am imagining the worst possible outcome occurring. This is funny, because if you ask me if I’m an optimist or a pessimist, I’ll say, without hesitation, that I’m an optimist. I believe that most things work out for the best. AND, more importantly, I believe that I am a happier and better version of myself when I believe that most things work out for the best.
That’s the theory. In actuality, I am a worrier, and I often worry excessively about outcomes. Much as I try to just do the next right thing and not get too attached to what comes out of it, I can almost always feel myself angsting about what will be.
I don’t think I was like this as a kid; my mom would know better than me, I bet. But I don’t remember being an anxious child, although it’s possible I was underneath and that it just manifested in different ways.
For me, I think the first time I was really anxious about uncertainty was when I was 21 years old. My dad had died six months ago, and I’d just moved overseas to Barcelona with a few college friends. I was taking a course, becoming certified to teach English as a second language, and the course was nearing the end.
Which meant I needed to find a job. In order to pay my rent.
It was so much easier dealing with uncertainty as a child, and as a college student. Very little was at stake, and, thanks to my parents, I had a secure and comforting safety net. (Though I don’t think I was consciously aware of it at the time.) But sitting in my tiny Barcelona apartment, facing the panic of the unknown – I felt an uneasiness that I’d never felt before.
I often wonder if this was related to recently losing my father. Would I have become quite so overwhelmed if I wasn’t right there in the middle of my grief? I’ll never really know. I mean, of course they were related – my grief and my panic, my panic and my grief. And of course, also, they had nothing to do with each other. It’s always both/and. Everything is its own thing, and also everything is connected.
This is basically a big lead-up into the title of this post, FUNCERTAINTY, which is a concept that I possibly made up and might mean nothing to anyone but me. But bear with me.
The reason why I angst about uncertainty is that I ask myself and the universe this question: What if everything falls apart and is terrible?
So – if I want to feel less uncomfortable with uncertainty – can I re-train myself to ask a different question?
Such as: WHAT IF EVERYTHING IS MORE AWESOME THAN I EVER THOUGHT WAS POSSIBLE?
Seriously. What if everything turns out awesome?
This possibility usually does not even occur to me. When I was younger, I daydreamed about amazing things happening to me and for me and around me. But that’s been harder for me to do recently. I’m not old, but I’m also not 18 anymore. Daydreaming is way different these days.
WHAT IF EVERYTHING TURNS OUT AWESOME? What if I achieve all my personal goals, all my career goals, all my travel goals, all my financial goals, all my family goals, and also do a whole bunch of awesome stuff that hasn’t even crossed my mind?
I have no idea what’s coming next in life – when Our Second Baby will come home, when I’ll identify a clear career goal, when we’ll find a farm to buy. But I like the idea of trying to switch things around on myself – imagining awesome things happening instead of worrying about things that may suck.
FUNCERTAINTY. Same exact situation as UNCERTAINTY – but with a more hopeful state of mind and an openness to the possibility of good things happening.
I like it.