Comfortable with uncertainty

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

I’ve been asked what my “thing” for 2020 is – habit, words, goal, whatever. This year, I’m going to try and get comfortable with being uncertain. There’s a lot up in the air, and as an uptight type A, this does not come naturally. I’m not a ‘wake up and see’-kind of woman.

There are many things right and good about being prepared; it tends to excel careers, make households a little less chaotic, curtail certain spending habits for more important purchases. However, when I look bigger than that, to my approach to problems and new situations, I jump to ‘risk-averse’ mode before I’ve had the chance to assess whether I’m really in danger, or just uncomfortable.

Underneath “uncertain” and “discomfort” is insecure, unprepared, foolish, wasteful, and that’s why I don’t like the word, even less the feeling. Planning allows for certain flaws to be duct-taped shut. It drowns out the Imposter upstairs who doesn’t know what she’s doing. It banishes silence for answers, and tension for progress.

However, my gut is telling me that demanding answers out of 2020 now is not going to be the best approach to this year. I’m trying to listen this time.


So, what does becoming a person who is comfortable with uncertainty look like?

It looks like taking the long-distance lens off the camera, and replacing it with one that picks up the beautiful, humble, denied nuances of today – the colour of the sky, the birds in a courtyard, the long hug from a partner, the savoured apricot, the laugh with a colleague, the glass of clean water, the good day’s work, the great run of traffic lights, the meal that satisfies, the smell of herbal tea, the weight of a pet, asleep against us.

It means more noticing.

It means being grateful. Then sharing it.

Taken from A Thanksgiving Reader

It means more good-finding.

It means taking fifteen seconds for the implicit memory to get a chance to kick in.

It means going with the flow, rather than feeling threatened by it.

It means improvising, and learning to laugh at myself.

It means saying, “yes”, despite not knowing.

It means trying to get to know the feeling, the genesis of the butterflies in my stomach, the rise of my heart-rate, the stickiness in my throat as the unknown becomes known in real time.

It means saying, “I don’t know” more often.

And when people ask the question after that, it means being confident enough to answer with a second, “I really don’t know”. No apology necessary.

It means actually not knowing, which is the hardest part of it all.

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