It was an average Sunday afternoon, I had taken out my bike and gone for a ride around my neighborhood.
Before long, I found myself near my high school – bringing back memories from years ago. The scene itself – with the football field or the empty spot where the hot dog stand used to be – was too peaceful for me to have quickly biked through. I got off my bike and decided to sit down on the bench to whom I was not a stranger.
Most of my high school friends and myself are in our 20s – a time in which we feel a lot of uncertainty about our life’s purpose or definite path. This became clear to me after on-the-street conversations with friends or the people who reached out to me for advice, only to find out that I had as much uncertainty as them if not more.
Uncertainty about what professional career to pursue.
Uncertainty about what our driving ambitions should be in life.
Uncertainty about if our friends are the right ones to be around.
Uncertainty about what makes us happy?
Uncertainty about our weight, appearance, or social status.
Uncertainty about finding your life companion.
Uncertainty about if your current life companion is the “one”.
Uncertainty about if your efforts will produce results.
Uncertainty about how to respond to societal or family pressures.
Uncertainty about philosophical questions – life, death, happiness, or religion.
The search for certainty in fueled by our need to be comfortable – to have pleasure and to avoid pain. However, no matter how perfect our lives become, we always have some uncertainty. This infinite dilemma is the struggle.
The points below is how I have tried to make sense of it – with the caveat that I am still figuring this out myself and I’m “uncertain” about these recommendations:
- Accept that Everything is Uncertainty. When you are feeling stressed, it’s because of uncertainty about some outcome. If you are feeling anxiety, it’s because of uncertainty about the future. If you are regretting a decision, it’s about the opportunity cost. If you are jealous of others, it’s because of whether you’re getting the most out of your life.
- Realize that No One Likes Uncertainty. Day in and day out we all feel uncertainty and we don’t like it. Some people have grown comfortable with it than others, but even those people still don’t like it. Thus, our minds try to find certainty in some way – through finding something we’re more comfortable with. Giving up your start-up to join a company, pleasure food, shopping, alcohol, making impulsive decisions, promptly changing life companions, or just shutting down.
- Notice and Reflect on It. Face it. It is unpleasant but don’t run from it. Reflect on it and make a decision on what is best. If you are uncertain about yourself, improve on it rather than let it affect your self-confidence. If you are an entrepreneur, know that this is your optimal state and manage your risks. If you are uncertain about your life companion, change it or work at it. Don’t let uncertainty cripple you to take action or make decisions.
- Have a Guiding Belief System. If uncertainties are always around, what can you do to overcome them in the long term? A solid belief system that serves as internal certainty – knowing that whatever uncertainties or challenges come my way I will tackle them as such. A belief system will guide you in your toughest times. A belief could be as simple as a quote, how your role model would react, or what falls in-line with your character. What makes it difficult is that there is no universal sound belief system.
Uncertainties are everywhere. Would you let them subconsciously drive you or learn to use them to your advantage consciously?