“Fear, uncertainty, and discomfort are your compasses toward growth.” ~Celestine Chua
Uncertainty can be the glue for anxiety if you allow it. One thing can snowball into another and soon you are looking at the road ahead, absolutely dumbfounded about which way to go. It shakes us to our core; it disrupts our security, our stable foundation and makes us feel unsettled, even a bit lost.
But can our lives change without uncertainty?
I don’t believe they can.
Two years ago, I found myself wondering: Is this all there is? The road I’ve been on is where I’ll stay; no passionate youthful ambitions, no joyful exuberance; just working and paying the bills, day in and day out. That’s being an adult, isn’t it?
At least I have a comfortable life, I told myself, with little disruptions, no drama, and nice friends that I have trouble feeling close to.
There must be something better, I told myself.
I searched everywhere.
Then I found my passion. It was buried deep. I dusted the cobwebs off. I wondered why I had abandoned such a beautiful passion. Then I remembered, convincing myself decades ago, that my passion had no real use, especially in a world that valued money above everything else.
But it made me happy, so I worked at my passion twice a week in the evenings when I had time. It was a very busy time. I had little space left for my distant friends, superficial dating, or any of the other things that were slowly draining my soul.
Miraculously, my passion had quickly filled my cup in a way nothing else could, not dating, not friends, and definitely not work. I made a choice to give it all I’ve got; to make a big change.
This was happiness! I had found it!
I sold my business and pursued change. I chased it, shedding the old chains that bound me, blazing my own path. Then something happened that I didn’t fully expect.
It shook me to the core.
Here I was, with little money, a fixed income, and no clear path ahead of me. Do I turn right or left? Do I go straight or take this side road? Which path is the best path? Will I succeed or become a failure?
Anxiety gripped me, threatening to choke the air out of my lungs. What have I done? How could this be? I’ve ruined everything.
I put all my heart and soul into my passion, continuing tirelessly. The negative thoughts tugged at my brain at night, raising my anxiety levels. My sleep was disturbed, and my life was in chaos. Nothing was for certain anymore.
I analyzed every direction. One direction must be better than the other! But they all seemed the same, fraught with obstacles and inconsistences.
I started making plans to move but froze. I felt unable to make a decision.
I mulled things over and over in my mind until I could no longer think about anything. My path was so wide, and the waters were unchartered. I felt like I had absolutely no idea what I was doing or where I was going.
How could this be? How could the path to happiness be so rough and riddled with peril?
Then I forced myself to breathe. It was going to be alright, I told myself. Exercise and take care of things every day but accept that there will be mistakes. You are human after all.
I began talking myself out of the crippling anxiety and came up with a list of positive messages to counter the worry:
1. You are intelligent; you make good choices. You always have. Look at all your past achievements. They are tangible proof.
2. Trust yourself. You’ll make it.
3. Change is better than going back to where you were before.
4. Release your power over things if you want them to evolve.
5. Go ahead, analyze your situation, but leave many margins for error.
6. Take a break sometimes and focus your mind on other things that have absolutely nothing to do with your decisions.
7. If you don’t know the right path, just start swimming in the right direction. The river will eventually take you there.
So, I started swimming. The river slowed down along the rocks a few times, but I found clever ways to get around them. Sometimes the water was freezing cold and I learned if I kicked my legs faster, I would stay warm. A few times, I just waded in the water, enjoying the scenery.
While I was admiring the scenery, I wondered if maybe the journey was more important than the destination. Those moments were precious.
I still have crippling anxiety often, but I have grown an impressive amount of faith in myself. I believe things will work out; they always do somehow eventually.
Every day I wake up with uncertainty hovering over my head. I wonder how I could rid myself of this unwelcome guest.
Then I had an epiphany.
If you want change in your life, you must open the door to Uncertainty. He might stay awhile, so be sure to invite him in and shake his hand. It’s okay, he’s not the bad guy. Uncertainty is actually the guy that’ll introduce you to Future.
Oh, and that guy Anxiety? Don’t listen to a thing he says; better yet, tell him he’s not welcome and slam the door in his face.
And remember, you’ll be okay.