Navigating and Embracing the Unknown in Life
“Some beautiful paths on our journey can only be discovered when you dare to face the unknown.”– Daniela Birch
I’ve personally been dealing with a lot of uncertainty in my life recently. And to be honest, it’s been tough.
For a planner like myself, navigating the unknown is never easy. I despise uncertainty with every fiber of my being and try to avoid it as much as I can. But sometimes, there is just no getting around it and you must learn to embrace the unknown.
One thing that I know for sure is that in life, change is inevitable.
Sure, you can influence the overall trajectory of your life, write down some goals and devise a plan to make something happen. But no one knows for sure how things are going to end up. So, a lot of the time, we’re just going into it blindly with the hope that we’ll end up where we’re meant to be.
That’s why a lot of us like to keep things comfortable. Meaning, we generally stay in the same routine day in and day out.
For some, it might mean staying at a job that isn’t as fulfilling as they wish. But that job pays the bills and puts dinner on the table. For others, it might mean staying in the same place your entire life because it’s all you know.
Please know – there is nothing inherently wrong with any of these scenarios.
It’s okay if you want to stay in a job because it provides for your family. And it’s okay if you want to live in the same place your entire life.
But some people are only okay with keeping things as they are, simply because they’re afraid of the unknown. I am 100% guilty of this myself and am currently struggling with this in my life right now.
My mind keeps telling me to stay in my comfort zone and just coast along, as it’s likely smooth sailing from here. But my heart and my soul are saying go the other way, even though there may be rough waters ahead.
Afterall, it’s the journey that really counts and is always worth it in the end, right?
Deep down, I know that ultimately, change is a good thing. Even if it comes with a lot of uncertainty. But on another level, I’m only human, and just want to take the easy route every now and then.
However, just within the past couple of months, I’ve been taking a different approach to a change in my life that I normally wouldn’t have in the past. And surprisingly, it’s helped me more than I ever thought it would.
While there is still a lot of ambiguity in my life right now, there are some techniques that not only make the experience more tolerable, but also exciting.
Keep reading to discover the ways I like to approach the unknowns in life.
Sit With It
If you’re anything like me, when uncomfortable change and unchartered territories lie ahead, my first instinct is to run away from it. My flight or fight mode kicks in and tells me to avoid the situation at all costs.
But if you allow change to occur naturally and sit with it rather than avoid it, the unknown can bring an unexpected calm.
That’s what happened to me when I stopped running away from unpleasant situations. And more often than not, embracing the unknown and allowing it to unfold in its own time was the best thing that could ever happen to me.
The most difficult part about the unknown was being alone with it. But by giving up all expectations and sitting with the discomfort, I was able to gain both confidence and clarity.
Take It Day by Day
Times of unpredictability can definitely make it feel like the days are just dragging along. Which doesn’t help when you’re struggling just to get through the day.
One trick I learned a long time ago (I can’t even remember where), was to just get yourself through the next second if that’s all you could handle. If you can do that, try the next minute, then the next hour, and so on.
Anytime I find myself in a situation that I just want to run away from, I approach it by taking one day at a time. And if I can’t manage that, I break it down into smaller segments of time.
I learned that if you try to take it day by day, you’re likely to be more present and thus learn more from the experience.
Have Compassion for Yourself
If you’re truly doing the best you can, that is enough.
We’re all human and we all make mistakes – there’s no way around it. That’s just the luck of the draw. We only know what we know, and typically, we do the best we can with what we know at that moment.
So, if you’re struggling with a change or uncertainty in your life, just do the best you can and allow that to be enough. And if you mess up, allow yourself some grace and compassion in the process.
While there is a world full of critics, the one person we’re always stuck with is ourselves.
It pays to be kind to ourselves and to create a relationship of acceptance and compassion. If you do, no matter what obstacle you find yourself in, you’ll always have a strong foundation to come back to. One that will never fail you.
Reflect & Accept
Once you get through the unknown, reflect on the experience.
Ask yourself, “what did you learn from it? Is there anything you would’ve done differently had you known what you know now?” This exercise isn’t to cause you to feel regret, but rather point out what it was that caused growth to occur.
There is always growth in every situation if we just open our eyes and look for it.
And even if the ultimate outcome wasn’t what we wanted or expected, accept what happened and allow it to just be. Acceptance keeps you moving forward rather than remaining stagnant. That is where true growth occurs.
For example, throughout my entire life, I have tried to avoid any scenario that required me to speak or basically do anything in front of a group of people. It didn’t matter if that group was small or large, with people I knew or didn’t know. Even if I wanted to do it for personal reasons, my fear was too great and silenced me every single time.
Being at the center of attention is just something that I don’t enjoy.
But recently, I’ve had to do more presenting to groups of people at my job than I have in the past. While I still don’t like it, I have begun practicing acceptance that this is just how things are at this moment. Interestingly enough, it really hasn’t been that bad in terms of my anxiety.
I do believe that by letting go of control in a sense, and allowing the situation to unfold naturally, it has made everything a lot easier.
I’m not sure how long this period of uncertainty will last for me. Part of me wants everything to go back to the way it was – where I was comfortable and content with life. But part of me is curious and excited to see what will happen next.
While I knew it all along, the events of the past month or so of my life have only re-confirmed that things can get pretty interesting when you least expect it. And that life can also become complete chaos in just a matter of seconds.
Whether there are changes in your life that are pleasant or unpleasant, know they are absolutely necessary for growth. If you keep that in mind along the way, the unknown isn’t quite as scary as it was before.