The feeling of uncertainty began during senior year of college, when the real world was around the corner. I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do, my boyfriend, Mike, didn’t know where he would be for medical school and I had fears I would be unemployed forever, with only an English degree and a mountain of debt to my name. Luckily, I had about 1,432 job applications to keep me busy and distracted.
the whole gang at graduation
Even though I soon landed a full-time reporting job in my hometown and Mike ended up in Buffalo, too, the unsure feeling has not faded away. I love the work, but newspaper journalism is not thriving. Declining circulations are leading to cuts in staff and less opportunities. I often feel like I’m on a train headed for a big concrete wall that is somewhere off in the distance. I can’t see the wall very clearly, but I worry that someday, I’m going to have to change directions to avoid a crash.
To add to that, in a short 2 1/2 years, Mike will graduate from medical school, and we’ll be flying off somewhere for residency. He has some say in the decision, but when it comes down to it, where they put him, we’re going. Normally, I’m pretty calm about making wherever work, but if I really think about the day he’ll open a scary white envelope to see the name of a city on the inside, my palms sweat and my heart races.
This weekend, after a talk with Mike about residency, I couldn’t stop thinking about the future. On the way to go see baby girl and my sister-in-law at the hospital, I brought along a Real Simple magazine, and happened to open to an article that spoke right to me: How to Deal with Uncertainty. Perfect, right?
I usually skim through “how-tos” and don’t get much out of them, but this one — which included the best strategies from experts — actually helped remind me of all the things I try to tell myself.
Here are my favorite parts:
“When you’re feeling unsure about the road ahead and what you can handle, listen to other people. Sometimes they can see the situation more clearly than you can yourself.” – Katie Uhlaender, a professional skeleton slider.
Almost all of my friends are in similar situations, and all of them remind me that the worries are normal. Talking to them always helps.
“When things don’t go as planned and we’re not sure how they’ll end, we tend to create doomsday scenarios. The uncertainty of a lost job becomes ‘I’ll never work again’ … Realize that there is rarely disruption without opportunity. Look for possibilities that arise from uncertainty and act on them. Ask yourself, ‘Where is the potential here? What doors have opened that once were closed? How can I turn this predicament into something extraordinary?'” – Jonathan Fields, the author of Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance.
Change is good.
“Instead of fretting about what may be ahead, do something that makes you happy and is just for you. People don’t want to look back, say, 15 years later and remember how they sat around worrying.”-Susan Ogden, a director at Adoptions Together.
I should enjoy this time in my life instead of worrying about the future. Even though I’m wishing I was older and more stable now, I know that there are going to plenty of days where I wish I was 23 again. I’ll take it while I can.
Can you relate or are you better at going with the flow?