Uncertainty is bad, or so we’ve been taught. Our ideals are built upon the idea of certainty and the lifestyle it facilitates; comfort and security. It’s an idea we’re taught young and one which is positively reinforced as we grow. Certainty is a stitch in time. Certainty is not counting your chickens before they hatch. Certainty is a degree, a job and a house. Certainty is power in numbers and is an idea which is tried and tested. Sometimes it’s an obligation to others, sometimes it’s because we feel we don’t have a choice, but mostly it’s a formula we call upon in the hope of reassuring ourselves when dealing with the unknown.
This isn’t necessarily a bad idea — but I don’t believe it’s the only idea. Perhaps our attraction to security is out of a sub-conscious acceptance that the world is uncertain, or maybe we’re just control obsessed and are afraid of leaving things to chance. But not all uncertainty is bad.
When I began working for myself, the absence of a secure and regular income was a necessary evil. In retrospect, finally committing to full-time self-employment was more about making peace with the uncertainty than the creative freedom which accompanied. I liken it to pushing away from a floating pier in the middle of the ocean in the middle of the night. It was a little terrifying. However, through embracing a new found freedom, laced with a heavy dose of panic, this uncertainty compelled me to act. It challenged me to experiment in order to solve problems in ways I had never considered before, as a matter of survival. Initially, mistakes early on only punctuated my concerns, but they soon began to subside as I grew to accept that despite my best efforts, things will always go wrong. These mistakes epitomized uncertainty but shifted its sentiment from a negative to positive light. Instead of being disregarded, they were celebrated and in many instances became trophies themselves. Allowing for this has since been factored into my process because its role evolved from a fear, into a tool.
All of this culminated in developing a better understanding of the world around me, of myself, and how much or rather little power I had over circumstances. It dawned on me that these ideas actually transcended the boundaries of my professional life into aspects of everyday life such as relationships and travel. It encouraged me in trivial ways such as walking down a street I had never been down before, but in more consequential ways such as relocating cities on multiple occasions. Admittedly, I don’t necessarily do any of these things with more confidence than before, they still scare me. But assigning to that fact that unpredictable things will happen regardless of what I did made these decisions easier to make.
The idea of imposing control over every facet of a process robs us of spontaneity, so why do we impose this on our day to day lives? We thrive on the unpredictable and I believe that allowing for uncertainties allows us to grow. The older I grow, the illusion of certainty pales in comparison to the vibrancy of uncertainty because it’s something I struggle to prove exists. The reality is it’s not necessarily a question of our belief in certainty and whether it exists, but instead if you’re comfortable with accepting that it doesn’t. Sure, accepting uncertainty isn’t necessarily for everyone but by no means do less unpredictable things happen to more certain people.