You know that feeling like you are walking down a path but you have no idea where it’s leading to; you’re crawling down a tunnel but you have no idea what’s at the end of the tunnel (you want to desperately believe that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel but deep down, you’re as unsure as anything); you’re swimming in an ocean that seems so large, wide and deep that you feel insignificant and you’re just trying to stay afloat, unsure of where the currents would take you…
That’s the feeling of uncertainty.
It comes and goes and comes and goes. Sometimes, it comes to stay and threatens your peace of mind because, let’s be honest, it’s really not the best feeling in the world; that feeling of not knowing what would happen or where you’re headed.
Uncertain waters are just that; uncertain. And with each stroke you take, there’s uncertainty about how deep or dangerous the waters, whether your swimming would produce the desired result; whether there are sharks or dolphins in the water; whether the shoreline and final destination would be as beautiful as you imagined and ultimately worth it.
You might be going through a phase of uncertainty in your life at this moment and you may find yourself treading uncertain waters. You may have just completed a phase in your life and are unsure of what the next phase would be; you’re afraid that the next might not be as great as the previous one; or in fact, you have no idea of what the next phase is supposed to look like. You have expectations tugging at you from different ends of the earth and sometimes you just feel too overwhelmed to even process these phases.
Of course you do not want to let your loved ones down by not producing the expected results so you keep going and going.
But how can you keep your mind calm and focused while you’re externally treading uncertain waters? I share some tips below: (and bear in mind that these tips are easier said than done and require a great level of practice and commitment).
Just Breathe. In the midst of all the uncertainty, in the midst of all the drama, in the midst of all the “hustling”, in the midst of all the disappointments and emotional rollercoasters, in the midst of all the expectations that may seem to drive you crazy, in the midst of the hope and faith, in the midst of the waves crashing against you…just breathe. Once in a while, take some time out to breathe, not just physically by inhaling and exhaling some air, but also breathe. Exhale the stress and uncertainty and inhale the positivity and bright hopes for the future. Take some time out to do things you love, hang out with friends, watch a movie, take in the beauty of life.
I know that these all seem easier said than done especially when you’re trying to get a job and have no idea where to start or attempting to make a career change that scares you so much or when you’re about to start a business or a major project or feel like you’re just hanging in the balance, not moving forward or backward. But when you take a break periodically from all the thinking, fussing, hassling and mini panic attacks and just do things that you enjoy, you can re energize and come back fully charged ready to find solutions and think more clearly.
Maintain a positive attitude
This, and I’ll be the first to admit it, is by far one of the hardest things to do in the midst of uncertainty. Do not let anyone fool you into making you feel like it’s so easy to be positive in the midst of uncertainty. But the good news is; it’s a choice. You can either choose to have and maintain a positive attitude towards life in general and be positive about what the future holds for you or you can choose to be negative all the time.
I remember being in NYSC camp after being tossed to a state that I soooo did not want to be posted to (which ended up being an amazing blessing by the way) and always having mini panic attacks and feeling so discouraged because I was so uncertain about how my service year would go. I did not know what law firm I would work or where I would end up (and this was after months and months of applications to and interviews in law firms in the desired state at that time. It was really the hardest thing to be positive especially when I looked around and saw people who seemingly had their stuff together. I would be positive for 5 minutes when I woke up, say a prayer, even write an encouraging letter to myself, then as soon as I heard someone else rejoicing about how her life is seemingly in place, I would burst into tears and want to scream because I did not know what I was doing!
But the thing is, you attract what you are ready for. If you go around moping and feeling sorry for yourself that things have not worked out the way they should have, instead of putting your head down and finding solutions or working as hard as you know you can, then best believe that only the negative will be attracted to you.
It may not be easy, but you have a choice. Choose to have only a positive attitude which can be fed with positive thoughts that your future would only be great and nothing less.
Do not believe the hype:
LOL. This was one of the major lessons that I learned this year. People only show you what they want you to see; be it on social media, in their lives, in pictures and so on. If you go feeding off people’s hype and then bring that home to your mind when you’re trying to be positive, you’ll have too many mind wars. I know that it’s pretty easy to get lost in other people’s highlights while not having a clue about their behind-the-scenes, but then remember that everyone is just trying to figure life out just like you. Yes, everyone including that wise man that you think has it all figured out; including those that say that they’ve got it all figured out. We all have uncertain moments. Do not compare your life with another person’s. Remember, people will let you see as much as they want you to. Stay focused on your goals.
Avoid negative labelling when you are in an uncertain phase in your life. Maybe you have been applying for that job and have been getting rejections or you did not pass that major exam or even get the desired result you wanted. It’s unhealthy to label yourself as “stupid”, “dumb”, “not smart enough”, “not good enough” and all. Negative labelling does not keep you focused and strips you of the strength to go on.
Most importantly, keep swimming! Even in the midst of uncertain waters, do not give up, do not give in, do not stop, do not compare your journey to that of another person’s. Keep swimming, one stroke after the other. Keep going. Keep putting in those applications, keep studying hard for that exam, keep acquiring those skills, keep hoping for the best and feeding your mind with positive thoughts. You may not have it all together or figured out, but that is okay. One day you will, and one day it would all be worth it. Trust the process. Trust God. Trust your journey and never give up.
Remember, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.