The beauty of uncertainty

Uncertainty is a quality to be cherished, therefore – if not for it, who would dare to undertake anything? –  Villiers de L’Isle– Adam

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I became conscious of something very salient about 3 months ago. It occurred to me while staring at my phone in my room, that I have always been uncomfortable with the idea of having uncertainty in any area of my life. Well, a lot of people feel the same way I concluded.

I plan my schedule rigidly, including what social/extracurricular activities I’m going to do over the next week. I try to take very few risks, and when I do take any, I feel drained afterwards.

You could say I live life very safely and I’m a “stick to the rules” kind of person.

At this moment, just like a million other people (and maybe even you reading this) I am feeling anxiety from thinking about all the things I have no control over.

I just finished from the University of Lagos with a bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry Science. With all these, the way still seems quite fuzzy.

Will I really practice chemistry? Will I go the HR and social business way my heart cries out for? Do I want to take the risk to abandon what I’ve been trained to do? What and how will it feel starting out anyways?

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This can even go further into my personal life. Where will I be living next? Who will I be with? Will I get married within the next five years? Will I be happy where I am?

As I sit here and think of these questions, I feel a huge black cloud hovering above me. When I think of the future I don’t see any clear pictures, but instead, an empty canvas.

Regardless of your faith, you can never escape uncertainty – Shannon L. Alder

Uncertainty leads to changes in life that we may or may not be prepared for, or expect at all. These changes can be good for us, or they could tear us apart. There is even research on the ethics of uncertainty, so I know that I’m not alone in fearing uncertainty, but…

Why? Why do we fear not knowing? Why must we try to exert control on every spheres of our lives?

We make schedules every day, we plan ahead for events, we fall into this routine of life because we know what to expect.

We like knowing what to expect. A lot of us on 9-5s know that on Monday we are going to wake up and go about with our morning routine, go to work, come home, and either have plans with other people or continue with our nighttime routine. It’s back to square one on Tuesday. 

We feel comfortable knowing that we have something to look forward to. When we lose this control, it results in discomfort, anxiety, and fear, and this can break us apart. 

What if you woke up one day and that certainty in life was taken away from you? What if you were essentially placed on a blank canvas and had to paint your life as you go?

How would you feel? Even writing about living on a blank canvas stirs fear of uncertainty within me. It’s because uncertainty is worse than risk. You are risking treading into waters that you’ve never waded through before. You don’t know if there are “sharks” out there.

But, what if you end up liking what’s in the previously unexplored waters? You’re risking change happening. You are risking doing something you didn’t think you’d do, feeling something you didn’t think you’d feel, or being someone you didn’t think you would be.

Uncertainty sometimes forces us to explore aspects in life we never even knew existed, and that’s what makes uncertainty and change so beautiful. 

Think back to a time when you tried something new or met new people and it/he/she/they became an important part of your life. It’s because you went past your fear of uncertainty and took a risk. Not all risks result in negative outcomes. In fact, all the risks you’ve taken up to this point have brought all those things and people into your life that you have today.

Either way, change and uncertainty are crucial in the process of creating the type of life we want to live and the people we want to be. I think we should open our eyes and embrace not having everything figured out all the time. Every once in a while, we should wake up with no plans and just paint as we go.

If you think about it, the only thing permanent in life is change. The process of growing from a baby into an old man or woman involves necessary (and quite remarkable) changes. Seasons change. Our minds are constantly in a state of change and help us adapt to physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional choices we make in life.

Change can be good. We should be grateful that we are alive and even have the choice to change and accept changes. We should be grateful for the changes that life forces us to make that ultimately end up painting a better life for us.

All the uncertainty you’ve openly embraced, the fear you put aside to try something new, and the changes you’ve made thus far have made you the person you are this moment, reading this article.

While it’s possible you’ve seen worse times, they are guiding you on the path to where and who you’re meant to be. Take risks in life. Wear your heart on your sleeve. BE VULNERABLE.

We should be excited that every day we get to wake up and automatically have a new beginning on that blank canvas. The whole world is at our hands and feet, and we get to move in whichever direction we choose.

You have all the colors, brushes, and various materials to create what you envision, but make sure to enjoy every moment of the process, especially uncertain ones, in creating your beautiful masterpiece.

helping you become…

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