I used to believe that every life had an ‘aha’ moment. That thought where all at once everything comes together and creates a whole picture, and suddenly you know exactly where to go next, how to be, what to do, who you are. The older I get, the more uncertain I become about this theory. It seems that the further I move away from the tether of adolescence, the structure of school, university, internships and all the formalities of career and life development that keep us on course in our early life, the less certain I become about my direction, and to a further extent my purpose.
I am not for a second deluded enough to believe that I am alone in this uncertainty or confusion, but as always, it’s easy to look around and compare my life and path to the people I know and love. Sometimes it’s impossible not to look around you and be flooded by the feeling that everyone you know have it all together all the time and that you alone are lost in a sea of misguided attempts at adulting. It wasn’t until very recently when a friend asked if I could be her rental reference on a lease application, citing that I was one of her most ‘adult’ friends, that I realised there’s no way any of us have it together, because there’s absolutely inconceivable that I could be at the top of anyone’s ‘most adult friend’ list.
So now, with each passing day and the growth of my adultness I find myself becoming more and more uncertain about my choices, actions and general life direction. Do I really want to work in publishing? Am I even any good at editing and writing? What if there is some amazing opportunity out there that I will never discover because I’m looking in the wrong places? This uncertainty can be paralysing, and I will be the first to admit that I let it get the better of me, allowing a fear of unexplored potential to actualize.
It seems that the question is this, how do you know where to go, and how do you stop the uncertainty of the journey from taking over? Increasingly I have found myself wishing for the power of foresight, a chance to look forward into the future and come away with all the right answers, or a guarantee that the path I’m on now is the right one. I suppose a truth we all know, but are desperate not to acknowledge, is that there is never really a way to know if our choices or actions are the right ones. Even in hindsight we can never truly determine if our course of action was the one that yielded the best results.
But, I have a theory. Those people that you idealize, the ones that seem to know exactly what they’re doing and have their whole lives laid out in a neat little path before them, they’re just as uncertain as the rest of us. No one really knows what it is they’re doing or where it is they’re going. How could they? The difference between you and those seemingly together people (or at least in my case) is that those people don’t let fear hold them back. You can never know how a new opportunity will turn out or how an experience will change your life. The only way to discover where you’re meant to be is to act, to take chances and dive into the things in front of you, even if you’re uncertain. The answer to the question of uncertainty is this: everyone is uncertain; nobody knows how their lives will turn out, so embrace it. Embrace the endless possibilities that uncertainty offers and dive into the thing that gives you that feeling like you’re doing something meaningful, something that makes you feel like you have purpose, and the rest will come.