In These Uncertain Times…
Everything is falling apart. But don’t worry, you know what to do
“In these uncertain times, it’s natural to feel a little anxious.”
That’s what we’re supposed to say at the moment, right? We’re supposed to say the these are exceptional times, which they are. And that it’s normal to be worried, which it is, and that we should be kind to ourselves, which we should.
We’re supposed to say that in these uncertain times it’s not surprising if you’re feeling unmotivated, or if you haven’t showered in 3 days, or if your ass has formed a permanent groove in your sofa. After all, everything is uncertain! We’ll all be fine once everything goes back to being certain again.
Of course, even when the pandemic is under control and we’ve all forgotten what an ‘r’ number is and normal life has resumed, everything will still be uncertain as it ever was. There will still be money to earn and relationships to maintain and a slowly ageing body to take care of. Uncertainty isn’t a novelty, it’s the one unchanging constant in your life. Every breath, every heartbeat, every time you cross the road is uncertain. Uncertainty is such a normal part of your existence that it begins to feel like a kind of certainty.
But then a new uncertainty strikes and throws you off balance. You lose your job or a loved one gets sick or you’re suddenly plunged into the midst of a global pandemic. Right now, it’s entirely possible that all three are happening at once. And when it uncertainty like this comes we forget that we already know how to handle it. That we already know how to swim in the uncertain waters that make up our lives. We feel like we’re drowning when all we’ve done is swallow some saltwater.
It’s not that you’re not supposed to feel uncertain or that you should feel weak or ashamed when you do, it’s that you shouldn’t forget how much uncertainty you’ve already overcome. You shouldn’t forget how many times uncertainty that felt insurmountable has proven to be so insignificant that you can hardly remember how it felt. You should recognise that there’s no reason to believe that this moment of uncertainty will be any match for you either.
And while we’re on the subject, you shouldn’t overlook all the good things that uncertainty brings. Uncertainty is where surprise and delight come from. It’s where resilience comes from. It’s where we derive our ability to hope. Uncertainty is where we learn how to have faith in ourselves.
So yes, in these uncertain times, it is natural to feel a little anxious. But that doesn’t mean you can’t cope. Take a deep breath. Survey your surroundings. Remember who you are. Begin to make order out of the chaos as you’ve done countless times before. We feel uncertainty most acutely when life shocks us into paralysis. When we feel as if we don’t know which way to turn.
So move. Get off your metaphorical sofa and find something better to do. Focus on the step you’re going to take right now, and not the one that you’re imagining taking tomorrow. Step confidently into a future where more uncertainty awaits. And remember that this moment of uncertainty will pass.