Let’s talk about living with Uncertainty because for most of us, it’s the slimy monster that hides under our bed.
I’ve gotten lots of advice as to what to do to live life without a clear path, and through a google search, it’s easy to find tactics and strategies to help us deal with the swirling feeling of having stepped right off the edge of a cliff. The advice can be helpful but before it helps, it can often cause more anxiety than when first losing our footing. Then again, doing nothing at all isn’t very likely to help it dissolve either. Is there an alternative? I think so.
Life on the brink
This morning I looked for a particular entry in journal I’d kept during the days my husband Scott received his kidney and pancreas transplant. It detailed my state of mind on the day and night of the surgery itself. I wanted to revisit another time I’d lived with uncertainty, and knew it was my most compelling example.
We’d gotten the call from the hospital at 2am on a Thursday morning, and after packing and making the nearly four hour trip to Tampa, arrived at 7am for check in. It would be another 14 hours before he was wheeled into a surgery expected to last around 6 hours. That brought us to a start time of 9pm Thursday night.
Sitting in the surgical waiting room, the sudden dawning that I was now completely and utterly alone, in a strange city, and during one of the most uncertain days of my life, broke open. To make matters worse, surgery was scheduled to run until 3am Friday morning which meant that over the course of the night, families of patients whose surgery was completed left both me and the room. By midnight, Scott’s name was the only one on the status monitor and a room meant to hold 30 people was empty of everyone but me and my thoughts. When the last family had stepped out of the room, I became very calm. Time itself had stopped.
And Here’s How I got Back
What happened to bring this state of calm in the midst of so much uncertainty? Well, the only thing I have been able to work out is that I gave in. You can also call it surrender. I became resigned not to a poor outcome, but to the entire process itself, and leaned directly into it. That leaning in meant that I stopped pushing and pulling at life and circumstance. The realization that I had no ability to think him through it, cry him through it, or otherwise influence the outcome brought peace of mind. I understood that we’d done everything we could possibly do to bring this moment about, and had to let go. It was actually a beautiful six hours.
This is Now
This story has everything to do with my current situation of unemployment. Lots of friends have shown concern as to my possible state of mind but amidst the perfume of ambiguity is a steady state. As long as I do all I can do to find and meet my new path, why not just let go of the rest? Once all of my tasks have been carried out, what’s left to hang onto but thought, and thought doesn’t change reality. The key is not to give up or give in but to lean in and fully acknowledge the great big gap in the storyline.
The lesson I’d pass onto anyone else starting a bold new venture? Make solid bets on yourself. Then give yourself permission to lean into the uncertainty, and just let it ride.
I’ll be back Monday with days 12-14.