Dealing with uncertainty

A guide to embarking into the unknown world of adulthood

While finishing a school year or graduating college is something to be proud of, it’s not uncommon to experience doubt or fear of what’s to come. You might be thinking: will I be successful or will I fail? Will I be happy or upset? Have I made the right decisions for myself?

Another possible source of anxiety comes from the idea that not many of us are sure if we have a set agenda for upcoming goals and adventures to look forward to. Whether or not we want to believe it, these are normal feelings to have whenever we’re going through periods of change. Here are some things to think about though:

Being uncomfortable is good for you

We all know the cliché, “Step outside your comfort zone.” I want you to abandon that cliché, and instead think of it as, “Feeling uncomfortable is a sign of growth.” Sometimes we aren’t ready to polar dive into a new obstacle because we’re unprepared. By setting up a way to gradually outline our path and setting ourselves up for success, we can still experience positive growth and the fulfillment of knowing we are doing something challenging and exciting.

We shouldn’t expect perfection of ourselves in something we’ve never done before. So recognize the uncomfortable feelings, reward yourself for hard work, and keep the momentum going.

Focus on today

A wise friend recently told me, “Anxiety is about reliving the past. Fear is about projecting the future. If you’d like to escape both, live in the present.” Now, I’m sure he was actually quoting something he read, but this advice was nonetheless important in the moment. It’s often too easy to be caught up in past mistakes and recreate anxieties from past memories as though they would always follow us. This often translates to how we see our future, and we can become fearful of the same mistakes and patterns emerging once again.

The good news is that we don’t have to live in either tense if we choose to stay present and consciously make decisions that would support healthy and happy opportunities. It helps to practice breathing, meditation, exercise, or doing something outdoors alone that requires you to stay in the moment.

Nobody can make your life happen for you

Whatever it is that you hope to accomplish after school, remember that nobody else can make it happen for you. This isn’t intended to be pessimistic, but it’s definitely a reality of life that we have to accept in order to take responsibility for our goals. While some of us might have more support than others, the choices and habits we engage in on a daily basis determine the opportunities we will have down the road. This includes who we choose to spend time with, where we spend our money, where we work, live, and even what we choose to engage in for hobbies.

Think about what you want, ask yourself if you have it, and then decide whether or not you need to make certain adjustments toward making your ideal life a reality.

Accept yourself for where you are

While the last three topics seem to be easier said than done, it’s important to realize that it is. The reality of change and moving through life is that we will all encounter struggle on various levels and that even with the most profound adjustments, we won’t get all the results we want. A big part of moving through obstacles, though, is learning how to accept ourselves for where we are at and learning how to practice self-compassion, self-responsibility, and developing the maturity to accept that we won’t always get what we want.

In doing this, though, we may come to a point that what we find is more fulfilling than what we hoped to find in the first place. Many of us will reach a goal and find that the results weren’t as fulfilling as we hoped, or that we hadn’t yet embodied this fantasy we built up in our heads. Perhaps if we found a way to enjoy the journey to these goals, we wouldn’t need to count on such results to begin with. What if we found a way to endlessly grow and enjoy life as it came, instead of waiting for it to just appear one day?

So as we look forward with all of our thoughts and emotions over what the next challenges may bring, take a moment to simply observe yourself where you are and try to appreciate the positive opportunities you’ve yet to encounter by surrendering what little control you think you have over moments that don’t actually exist.

Just be here, wherever you may be.

And congratulations on your accomplishments today.