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Embracing Uncertainty: The Future is Open, Not Empty

“As for the future, your task is not to foresee it but to enable it.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

A month ago, I was at a crossroads. I was unhappy with my job, I no longer wanted to be living at home, I was tired of being three states away from my boyfriend, and I was sick of feeling unfulfilled.

I knew change was coming, but what I did not know was that I was to be the catalyst.

I had moved back in with my parents after college, as I started the daunting task of job searching. I worked retail for most of the summer, broken only by a two-and-a-half week stint as an editor for a company that sold writing workshops to major corporations.

I loved the job, but the people turned out to be less than willing to train and accept me, so back home I went.

I finally found a job at a bank in the fall and set off learning a career in finance for the next year and a half. Acquiring a new skill set was intimidating at first; I was an English major and math had been an enemy of mine since grade school, but I quickly caught on and enjoyed it for a little while.

Eventually, it became clear that it was not the career for me; sales goals and customer service grew old fast, and I longed for change.

Along with living at home and working at a job that left me wanting more, my boyfriend was three states away. We met through a mutual friend in college, but attended separate schools. Our relationship had been long distance from the start, but when he graduated, his job took him even farther from me; meeting twice a month if we were lucky was not the relationship I had imagined.

I felt stuck, wishing for a crossroads to appear so I could take a different path.

I stood around waiting for change, waiting for the signs to come flashing in my direction, for a contact to call me up with a job offer, for a path to be laid out neatly in front of me.

I think we all do that sometimes, wait for a decision to drift our way. But what I realized is that we need to come to the decision, not the other way around.

After staying late at work one Monday, I was driving home and had the overwhelming urge to drive to the beach. I had to be there before the sun set, I had to look at the water, smell the salt and seaweed, see the scattered couples bundled up and holding hands.

I sat on the boardwalk and just stared. I stared at the ocean far away from me as the tide pulled it out and gave up my worries, just praying that I would find happiness soon.

It reminded me of the summer that I had been offered an interview with the writing workshop company. My phone had rung while I sat on the boardwalk talking to my best friend as we stared at the water, then teeming with small children.

Even though I left that job, I have always viewed the ocean as a source of luck for me. I have learned that the ocean is my place of peace, the place where calm happens for me, the place where I feel most at home, the place where I find answers.

Sitting there that Monday night staring at the distant waves, I willed for things to be different. A couple days later they were.

A meeting that lasted all of Wednesday that same week decided it. I endured glares from superiors because I had missed the suit jacket memo. I felt excluded being the youngest supervisor of the bunch. The guest speakers pushed more sales pitches on us and talked about fees as if they could be fun.

I came home crying because knew I couldn’t keep doing it, wasting my time and happiness on a career that I didn’t care for in the least bit; so I walked in the next day and gave my two weeks notice.

I realized that I had been unrealistic in my search for happiness, dreaming that it would grace me with its presence one day, set me free from tedious job.

I had been passive, thinking the answers would come when they were ready.

I had been waiting for that perfect moment, that time when opportunity would come forward and present me with an array of options from which to choose. That didn’t happen. I’ve learned that it never will happen.

You will never be happy unless you take the reins, unless you take responsibility for your own happiness.

I found this out through a course on Creativity I took my senior year in college, a class that had pushed its way to the back of my brain and was just coming back into focus. We concentrated on Julia Cameron’s works along with many others, and I fell in love with a new way of thinking. I had always been a pessimist, but through the texts and the course I found optimism.

We talked a lot about embracing uncertainty, especially because all of us were surrounded by doubt and fear as graduation loomed closer and our futures were seemingly blank.

I learned not to interpret the future as empty, but as open, full of possibilities, full of opportunities waiting for me to be the key player.

We often interpret the unknown as bad or scary, but it is all in the viewer’s perception. Just as you can choose to see the glass half full instead of empty, so can you choose to view the future as brimming with possibilities instead of emptiness.

We are the decision makers in our own lives. Happiness is a choice, not a given; it is a true gift, a privilege available to all, but we need to have the strength to accept it.

I adopted one quote that Julia Cameron refers to frequently within her texts, and I use it as a reminder when I face uncertainty:

“Leap and the net will appear.”

The future may be frightening, but I have seen signs along the way that assure me my decisions have been the right ones. These signs have appeared now that I have taken action and decided to be the leader in my own life; they aren’t the signs that I was waiting for as I passively sat on the sidelines, taking a backseat to change in my life.

While I have been unemployed for the past month, I have gone on multiple interviews, received one job offer that unfortunately did not fit my needs, and have a second interview lined up for a job I really want. I moved in with my boyfriend and now see him every day instead of twice a month, and I have the time to focus on myself, my goals, my writing, and my peace.

I still have frequent panic attacks in which I fear that I am unemployable and worry that I will not find a job; however, that is when I breathe and remind myself of how much I have accomplished already.

If we don’t give ourselves credit, no one else will.

If we commit to finding happiness, the world can open up in ways that were never apparent before. If we commit to taking an active role in life, nothing can stop us from achievement.

Photo by Mobilephotos@heidenstrom

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About Erin Smith

Erin Smith is an aspiring writer. She is a strong believer in the powers of emotion and creativity. She has begun blogging as a beginning to her path to self-discovery at kaleidoscopeyes and hopes to continue gaining strength through writing and enlightenment through experience.

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  • Melisa

    Beautiful post Erin! Two weeks ago I quit my high stress and demanding job with a big salary, for a calmer job from home.  The pay is slightly less but what I have gained in peace and time to develop my ideas and dreams is huge.

    Is true that I didn’t leap without a net, I looked for the replacement job first and I was lucky to find it. But the fact that I decided to quit the safe, high paying job was a huge decision for me. 

    I stopped waiting for answers to come and took the reins and lept! I feel at peace with my decision and now I feel empowered to build my future and my happiness!

  • Nan Rankin

    I loved reading this post. I’ve always been one who thought happiness should come to me, just as you described in the post. As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve learned that this simply isn’t the case and you absolutely must make opportunities for yourself.

    With that being said, I can’t possibly imagine believing that, if I were to take a leap, the net would appear. I’ve never been able to have that kind of faith. I would like to, but I’ve never been able to.

    How should people like me, who have never been able to take the leap of faith, start doing it?

  • Paul

    Hi, I’ve a research paper on how mindfulness can improve job prospects by upto 68% if anybody is interested. Feel free to contact me ; @aceofwaste (Twitter)

  • Daniellev89

    Thank you for the uplifting post Erin. I am a student working on her BA in English. I left my high-paying tutoring job in California so I could move up to Oregon for an education with a smaller bill. Unfortunately, it’s been hard finding a decent job that will suit my needs. I had a stint at a convenience store for a few months, but quit, hoping I would be hired by any one of the many companies that were asking me to come in for an interview. A few months later, today, I’m still looking. Yet, your post brings a sense of renewal and hope. Thank you,
    Danielle

  • Linnaeab

    Erin,
    I enjoy how you write about your own experience. I enjoy that you share the reality of it, while you are exploring life, learning from life.  I enjoy your sharing your own wisdom arising while you are in the center of life. I enjoy that you are an example of the choices one person         is making in her life, rather than “this is what you the reader should do”.

    it is refreshing, its is real. it is honest.

    linnaea

  • Keyra

    Wow… This post was synchronicity in action. Thank you universe and than you Erin!

  • C.

    Thanks so much for this well written, honest and true post Erin! I know how you’re feeling; I just left a job that meant much to me after just 10 months of employment, I might move back to my parents’ place while searching for a new job, my honey lives on the other side of the planet and my future with him (where? how?? when???) keeps on staying completely open. I often feel like my whole life is a construction site. I sometimes feel lonely with the life choices I make – choices that look more like co-incidences than true choices. The only thing I feel comfort in is the hope that things will unfold themselves to the better while I make more confident choices towards a happier life. Post like yours help me to feel understood. Merci! And all the best for everyone, who feels the same way today…

  • http://optimalternative.com/ Mark B Hoover

    “Throw your backpack across the fence FIRST.”

    You’ve touched on something that reminds me of what I am missing. The ocean. I would sit and look for long times across the expanse, toward the horizon, knowing there is something there drawing me. It can be done with the sky, forever-vistas on flat land or perched on a mountaintop. What is important is seeing that there is more than “you”. Placing the present in perspective.

    Wide expanses that we can view break our limited perspectives, coax us out of our shells. If we go through life wearing blinders we will never stray from the path, never explore new vistas. We become our limitations. Places like the shore, a place to lie looking at the sky or views from atop that stretch into the horizon elicit from us a sense of being a part of something more. That “something” begins to pull, drawing us into its gravity, soothing us with its siren serenade.

    Life happens to us unless we happen to it first. One way or another, we’re in it for the ride. May as well take a look into the great beyond and set a course. That way the waystations will be more to our liking.

    ~ Mark

  • Kari

    I felt I was reading about myself and how I am feeling. This is wonderfully written! Thank you.

  • Lv2terp

    Wonderful post, all wonderful points and quotes. Thank you for sharing such an inspiring perspective and lesson!!! :)

  • syk1004

    Very inspirational & courageous post Erin! It’s so hard to take a risk (especially when one’s older) and to believe in that metaphorical net to catch us in case we fail. Sometimes attitude is half the battle and how we handle those battles define us. I took a leap 8 years ago pursuing my dreams in Hollywood and it was glorious as all fell into play for those 6 years I’ve been there…but after being laid off-I’ve returned home to the East Coast where there is nothing that resembles my dream career wise and each day is a struggle, just waiting for an answer to appear…but your post reminded me that it is a choice and how important it is to tweak our perceptions to be more positive and hopeful and to take that “leap” again when ready!

  • Saquanda

    Oh, hello fellow English major! Substitute bank for court and this could be my story, save I haven’t put in my two weeks notice. However, tomorrow the courts are scheduled for countywide layoffs. I’m not hoping that my name doesn’t get called.

  • http://www.teapotsandtoast.wordpress.com/ Kelli

    This whole article summarises how I am feeling right now. I am scared, but the more I read and the more I think about it the more I realise that sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith! … now to work up the courage to do it

  • Erin

    Thank you so much for reading and enjoying my post! As for your question concerning faith, the confidence to take that leap truly comes from within. I am a spiritual person but my faith has come and gone over the years. Recently I have tried to give more of myself to faith and prayer. No matter what you believe in, the ability to take that metaphorical step comes from within. It was confidence in myself and in my abilities that allowed me to take a chance. There have been setbacks and the future has not laid itself out perfectly in front of me, but during this journey I have learned so much about myself and that comes from self-confidence. Once you believe in yourself, you can have the power to begin taking small steps of faith. The leap comes when you have confidence in your abilities and beliefs; the leap comes when you trust yourself and trust that you know what is best. For me, the leap came when I was at my lowest point and knew I had to make things better, knew that there was more to life than the way I had been living it. I wish I had had the confidence to do so sooner. We all find faith and inspiration in different ways and I pray that you find yours. 

  • Erin

     Danielle,

    I am glad that my post resonates with you. I have turned down a couple opportunities in the last couple months because I knew they were not the right fit. You have to do what is right for you, listen to your gut. I had to settle on a part time job in the meantime that I know I am not meant to stay at yet I am still looking for a job that better suits my needs. I have spent months looking and now know what I want, or at least the right direction in which to head. Sometimes I thought of my unemployment as a failure, but as I learned (and I think you have found out), it was far from that. I have learned more about myself in the last few months then I have in a long time because all this time I was able to focus on me. I have been able to write and journal just because I want to and I love it. I wish you all the best of luck in your search. There is so much to learn along the way and I know you will be happier in the end because of your decision.

    ~Erin

  • Erin

     Thank you for reading!

  • Erin

     I’m so glad that my post helped. I often feel the same way, as you said, that my life is like a construction site. I still have days where I question the decisions I have made and wonder how things would have ended up if I took a certain job or had made different decisions. But we are the decision makers in our own lives and we make those decisions for a reason. If you remain true to yourself, then you can’t go wrong despite feeling alone at times. When I get down, I remind myself of what I do have and what I’ve done to achieve those things. If you keep up your strength and move forward, every step you take will lead you to happiness. I pray that your questions are answered soon. Keep up the confidence! It’s reassuring to read all of the comments and find that a lot of us are on the same page. You are never alone.

  • Erin

     Thank you for reading!

  • Erin

     Mark,

    Thank you for reading! I love your comments about placing things in perspective. The ocean has drawn me to it for a long time and I never understood why. I could never explain it, but you are right. It reminds us that we are not the only things living; our lives are not necessarily the most important. It always calms me to sit and stare at it with no goal, no thoughts, just watching the waves and listening. Something about being there brings peace that I can not begin to describe. I’m working on finding that peace in daily life as well because I feel like once I leave the ocean, that peace is hard to replicate. Thank you for your comments, your words are very insightful.

  • Erin

    Thank you for taking the time to read my post! I appreciate all these comments :-)

  • Erin

     Thank you for reading! I find your leap quite inspiring as well- to travel across country in pursuit of your dreams. I have found that it is all about attitude, as you said. When I took my leap, I was in a bad state and it was that feeling that made me want to change. In these last few months I have had my fair share of struggles and still worry about money, but I have gained knowledge that is far greater. I have paid more attention to what I want than I have in a while. I know it will take me a while to get to where I want to concerning my career and personal life, but now I have a clearer direction. I continue to listen to my heart as I make daily decisions concerning my well being. All we can do is be true to ourselves and have confidence in our own knowledge and abilities. Good luck in all your endeavors, I truly wish you the best!

    ~Erin

  • Erin

     Hello! Well I hope that life works out the way it is supposed to for you. The universe has a funny way of making things fall into place; usually when we’re not looking for answers they come. I’m still searching for my perfect job and while I have settled for a part time job at the moment, I can’t view it as settling because I’ve grown so much through this whole process. I wish you the best for your future!

  • Erin

    Kelli,

    Taking that leap is the hardest thing to do but once you make up your mind to do so, it becomes easier. Have faith in yourself and have confidence in your abilities. You know what the right thing for you is, even if it’s a hard decision to make. I often refer to one of my favorite lines from The Fray- “Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.” I pray you find the courage to take that leap and find happiness in doing so.

    ~Erin

  • Erin

     Melisa,

    I love your comment! You had the courage to do what you knew was right for you and for your happiness. I think it is awesome that you were able to give up the stresses of your old job, even if that meant giving up some money. While I am working part time at a job that I know will not be my career, I still have time to journal and write. I hope that I can find a way to turn this into my career. I’m so glad that you have found peace and happiness.

    ~Erin

  • Erin

     Thank you so much for reading! I am glad you enjoyed it and I am glad that my story is real for readers.

  • Brynnjulie

    You go girl!!! Keep it up.  So true.

  • Shubhankarsahil

     u mean to say that we should do all those things that make us happy.its about catching every drop of it.right?

  • Erin

     Thank you!

  • Erin

     Absolutely! Be true to yourself and do what makes you happy.

  • Kathy

    Erin I really enjoyed your post and wish you luck in your writing and your career. I’m probably about 20 years older than you, with the first ten years of my career in journalism, but I still feel like I need to make the ‘leap’ into writing now, and with a husband and two kids in tow, I really need the safety net.  

  • http://www.soulcuisine.co.nz/ Paula

    It’s so comforting to know there’s others out there going through the same thing as me.  Last year my dreams came true, this year they are all in the toilet – I’m still trying to work out how it happened – how did I get here – it’s not meant to be like this!  Anwyay, I agree with you C. in that I live in the knowledge that “things will unfold themselves to the better” and that it’s just another transition phase we’re all experiencing to push us forward in our growth and fulfillment…thank you Erin for sharing and bringing us all together…to everyone on this path – Kia Kaha (be strong)…

  • http://angelicwhispers.wordpress.com/ Katherine

    Just stubbled across your post and I think its given me the push to get out there and do what it is that I want to do, rather than just sticking with my boring job because its “secure”
    I dream every day of the life that I would like to have and then do nothing about it – shame on me.
    Thank you very much x

  • Erin

    Katherine,
    I was the same way at my job. I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do but unfortunately it took me hitting my lowest point to do something about it. I wish you all the best in your endeavors! Remember, you are in control of your life and only you can control your happiness.
    ~Erin

  • Erin

     Kathy,
    I still feel the urge to write every day. I wish I had had the motivation to sit down and write every time I thought of it. My job had me so stressed and overworked that all I wanted to do when I got home was sleep and watch television. I think journalism is an amazing career. I hope to make a career in writing, editing or publishing. My number one dream is to write a bestselling novel one day. I hope that your dreams and desires come true. Good luck!
    ~Erin

  • Anglophiletet

    I needed to hear this. Glad I stumbled upon it. The best of luck to you!

  • Jennifer

    Thanks for this inspiring post, Erin. It made me realize I’ve kind of been waiting for change to land in my lap as well. I pretty much just go through the motions, not very happy with my current situation, all the while telling myself one day it will be better. Well, maybe that’s true, and maybe it’s not, but do I really want to wait around and find out?
    You’ve inspired me to push myself a bit more to really examine what it is I want and then make concrete steps to go after it. I’m not quite ready to jump off the metaphorical cliff yet, but I’m encouraged to at least creep a little closer to the edge :)

  • RK

    V inspiring and I hope you r finding that peace and happiness now?

  • Erin

     I am finding a lot more happiness now. While the job I am at part time isn’t the right one, it’s earning me money while I continue to focus on my writing. I try to remain confident in myself and my abilities. I know that as long as I keep making small strides toward my goals, I will one day be able to achieve them. Thank you for reading!

  • Erin

     Good for you Jennifer! I know it’s very scary to start looking into things that are new and different. After I wrote this article, I ended up at a part time job that is safe for me, but I continue to focus on my writing. I am looking for more ways to expand my own horizons and break out of the comfort zone that I often find myself in. Like you, I am still creeping towards another edge, and it’s okay to creep as long as we keep moving. Good luck in your endeavors!

  • Erin

     Thank you for reading! I hope that you may find happiness in your present and your future :-)

  • Jane

    Thanks for the inspirational piece.  I am facing a lot of chance now in my personal life, and I love what you wrote:

    “I learned not to interpret the future as empty, but as open, full of possibilities, full of opportunities waiting for me to be the key player. “

  • Erin

     Thank you for reading Jane! I hope that you embrace all the possibilities that are open to you and follow your heart- it knows best what you need and want.

  • http://twitter.com/AlannahRose Alannah Rose

    It took me a long time to figure out what you have written here… that some big “sign” isn’t going to appear, telling me what to do and where to go… I have to actively help myself find a new direction or solution to my problems.  I guess it’s kind of similar to wanting someone to swoop in and rescue me, like in a fairy tale.  It’s just not going to happen and that’s a hard truth to accept.  Thanks for sharing your story here – it’s very honest and your openness is inspiring!  Best to you!

  • Nicolette

    Very inspiring read… Very much like my situation now… thank you for your article.

  • http://twitter.com/lildrummergirl5 Kim

    Thank you for so much for sharing this post! I am hitting a similar point with work and having a long-distance relationship. I have been holding the same job that I had all throughout college and now I have been graduated for about a year and don’t see myself there anymore. I have opted to leave my job and move across the state to live with my boyfriend as well. Living in a new, tiny town with no promise of employment will be scary, but it just seems like the right time and the right thing to do. Reading your post has really helped me feel like I am not crazy for deciding to embrace the unknown. I admire that you were able to make the changes you needed to in your life despite how scary it might have been (at least I know it is for me!). 

  • Brent Oh

    Good Post.

  • Erin

     Thank you for reading and responding Kim. It’s always nice to hear of people in similar situations and seeing the actions they are taking. I wish you luck in your move. Keep up your confidence and something will come along. I’m still getting used to such a big transition in my life, but I’m learning something about myself daily. Keep striving toward the things that make you happy because you deserve happiness. I give you all my support!
    ~Erin

  • Kristina

    Thank you for writing this. I have been unemployed for 6 months now. I have been trying to switch careers and having the toughest time. I can definitely relate to fearing that I am unemployable and worry that I will not find a job; however, I’m committed to my own happiness and I won’t stop until I get there.

  • joey

    hi Erin,
    I just received information that I lost my job. the 2nd in as many years despite me giving it my best shot. I feel drained. Life is not good, but your blog speaks wisdom. thanks. it has improved my day.

  • Blue Bead Publications

    I was removed from a certain job that had stolen my soul. It is so hard to give up certainty. In the midst of job interviews, I really wonder who is in control

  • Alexis

    Thank you so much for writing this– I stumbled upon it at the perfect moment in my life! Since the first grade, I’ve wanted to be in law enforcement/criminal justice. The FBI has been my dream for as long as I can remember, but I’ve been too intimidated as a female to attempt to break into such a difficult field. I’m graduating in May with a B.S in Bioanthropology and a minor in Forensics, and recently thought of going into Nursing. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn’t the right career path for me. It’d bring decent pay and I’d make a difference, but not in the way I’ve envisioned my entire life. The (very few) science courses I took as pre-reqs for the Nursing program did nothing for me, but the (much more numerous) criminology and forensics courses I’ve taken played directly to my strong suits. I’ve just recently dropped the last few Nursing pre-reqs I’d have needed to enter the program upon graduation and have replaced them with courses that further my law enforcement/criminal justice education. I’m entering graduate school for cyber security and criminal justice post-graduation and pursuing a career that would actually make me happy and play to my personality. It’s terrifying, making such a huge leap of faith, but it’s comforting to see that I’m not the only one doing so. I hope things work out well for you! :)