Dealing with uncertainty in life

It is often said that there are only two certainties in life: one, that we were born into this world, and two, that we will all eventually die.

As grim as it may seem, there’s definitely a lot of truth behind that statement. Nothing in life is ever guaranteed right?

With the job market getting tougher and unpredictable events happening all over the globe, its easy of falling into the trap of feeling gloomy and upset when you realise just how little of the world around you and it’s outcomes you can actually control.

I mean many major milestones and life events I’ve faced up until this point have been largely uncertain. Some of them have included:

     Will I pass my high school final exams? Will I be accepted into law school?
     Will I get the part-time or casual job that I applied for? Will I be able to get a full-time job when I graduate?
     Will the host university I have applied to accept me for a semester abroad?
     And, finally, now, pending release of university exam results – Will I pass my units? Or will I have to retake them?

None of these events are certain or pre-ordained. And I can tell you honestly – I tend to dislike uncertainty. There is a very real tendency to fear the unknown and the lack of knowledge and information we have about the future is no exception.

Many questions in life remain uncertain. Where will I be in 5 years time? Will I even still be alive? Will I have a nice job? A great partner? Will I be happy? It’s impossible to tell isn’t it?

I have a bad habit that I expend so much energy focusing on useless thoughts and worrying about things that may never happen or eventuate, conjuring up in my mind the worst possible outcome in each scenario when I don’t know the answer.

It’s pointless to ponder and stress over something that’s ultimately uncertain. That time and effort can always be devoted elsewhere to achieve things more productive. And yet I still obsess over everything anyway even though I know it’s unhealthy for me.

And you know what? Sometimes things turn out alright in the end. I mean of the things I’ve listed above, quite a few have been a success:

I did pass my exams in high school. I topped most of the state and landed a place on our school honour board. I’m doing law now in uni too. I made it!
     I sent in hundreds of applications for part time and casual jobs and I did land some jobs. I’ve already worked at three separate jobs over the course of my life so far. (Not sure if I’ll be able to find a good full-time job when I graduate just yet, but we’ll see! ;))
I did get accepted by my host university in the UK and I’m due to study there for a semester starting this September. It did mean I had to be patient though – I waited nearly 8 months before receiving any proper correspondence, and finally an acceptance letter last month.

I’m going to tell you straight up – most things do not end up as bad as we think. And even if they do, we usually bounce back anyway and do better next time.

So what if something didn’t go the way you want? There’s usually a next time. Or another way to go about things that didn’t occur to you before.

The mind isn’t always reliable. Do you always trust whatever others say about you? No? Then why should you necessarily trust the negativity that clouds you? The mind is capable of playing tricks on us.

Maybe I just got lucky?

Even if things hadn’t worked out the way I planned, I would have maybe cried in the corner for a bit and then got back up. There’s only so much you can do to tear yourself down and pity yourself, before you realise you have to get back up and eventually move on. How else would humanity have progressed? Your very existence was only possible due to the blood, sweat, tears and endurance of a thousand others who kept going even when nothing was certain. Did all these wars and plagues that the generations fought before us  count for nothing?

Even if I didn’t get good enough exam results to get into law school, I would have enrolled in another degree and transferred into law later. Or I would have chosen another similar discipline, such as legal studies, or criminology, or chosen a different university with different requirements. It’s not the be all, end all.
Even if I didn’t get the job, I wouldn’t feel discouraged. I’d keep applying and know that each rejection is one step closer to the right job and that I’d already have interview experience.
Even if I didn’t get accepted for my exchange abroad, I would have applied again. Or I would have applied for a volunteering program or other by an external provider, in which the requirements are easier to fulfil.
Even if I don’t pass my exams this semester, I’ll just study harder and take them again net semester. Many people I know have failed something at least once, and they’ve got back on their feet fine. It’s not the end of the world.

The way to come to terms with things is to realise that there is only so much we can control. The rest of it, don’t worry about it. I’m serious. Learn to recognise what you can do in a situation, and leave the rest to unfold naturally in its course. I know it’s easier said than done, but it saves a lot of unnecessary worry and anxiety.

And, since I’ve been reading her book, in the words of Lilly Singh (Superwoman), herself,  no single one thing should make or break you. If you think your self esteem, future and credibility rest on one single opportunity, on one single event in your life, on one person, then you do not have a solid enough foundation to begin with anyway. Don’t let that one failure or uncertainty get to you. You are worth more than that.

Another quote I’ve heard recently that has inspired me (but I forgot who said it) is that the most certain way you can guarantee the future you want is to create it yourself. So work hard doing the things you can do, that will take you a step closer to your goal. Even if you fall short, you’ll still probably be pretty damn close.

Don’t worry about the past – it’s gone. Don’t freak out over the future – it’s not here yet. Live in the present. Do what you can. That way you’ll have no regrets.

Finally, I just wanted to say – keep it up. Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep struggling through life. But struggle efficiently. And don’t waste it worrying on useless things that don’t change the outcome.

 

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4 thoughts on “Dealing with uncertainty in life

  1. Here’s the thing: just live in the moment and go with the punches that life brings you because you can’t be stuck worrying about the future and if you do, you’ll miss it and things won’t happen for you. Be aware of your surroundings and of the future. Take one day at a time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It’s like you’ve taken what was on my mind and put it in a much more clear and elaborate way. I’ve spent much of my life worrying about the future and missing what’s before my eyes. I now know that it’s best to be living in the present.

      Like

  2. Some claim taxes as a certainty. I almost said I pay no taxes, but then I remembered I pay sales tax.

    While I cannot claim a hundred percent as an actuality, I look on many uncertain situations as an adventure. Even dealing with a stomach mass last year I was able to see it as such. Another way I deal with worries is to procrastinate them. I will prepare in whatever way I am able, seek what support maybe available, but then postpone worrying about them until they actually arrive. I admit I have not always been able to use these two approaches. I suffered from a steady dose of anxiety on pretty much a constant basis. Paradoxically, I was taken of clonopin and my ability to assess my life situations improved, giving me a more realistic view. After time I got better and better at doing this, now it is almost second nature.

    I have also been fortunate to have a ton of resiliency. I have bounce back from alcohol and drug addiction, a severe motorcycle accident, major suicide attempts, for now years of bipolar disease, and most recently (last year) a stomach mass, which at one point the doctors thought had metastasized to my liver and showed the characteristics of carcinoid tumors (oddly the stomach mass showed no such characteristics).

    Again I am impressed with your approach for one so young. I think you have some real insight into dealing with life’s uncertainties.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment, Steven. I am sorry to hear about the stomach and anxiety but I think it’s great you were able to turn these two situations around and see a silver lining. I agree that this is a situation in which procrastinating can actually be quite helpful, since worrying too soon about something can actually be counterproductive as it is difficult to make adequate preparations for something that is still too far into the future and hasn’t eventuated yet.

      I have not yet have much life experience yet so it’s really great to have insight from another person who has been through a lot and emerged a stronger person. I’m very impressed by your ability to bounce back from situations that would otherwise be negative. I appreciate your feedback – thank you for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

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