Tolerating Ambiguity

I’m one of those people who loves getting things done. I mean I love it; I get a visceral pleasure each time I cross a task off my list or accomplish a goal. Which is why my current situation is tremendously challenging for me, what with having so much unsettled and undone in my life. The uncertainty that surrounds questions such as employment, income generation, relationship status, and life direction haunts my thoughts. I don’t have the first clue as to how I go about answering any of the above. Which brings me to the question I now pose to you: how do you handle ambiguity in your life?

As Re-booters, we recognize enough to know that much of life lies beyond our control. For some of us (like me), this is a source of great concern; wiser and more well-adapted others recognize the reality of this state of affairs and let it ride. They go with the flow. They build into their calculations the fact that not all “I”s will be dotted or “T”s crossed. Hmm. I wish I were more like our more sanguine brethren. Where do you fall along this anxiety-generating spectrum?

Tolerating such flux requires a great deal of courage and belief in oneself. Even if we don’t have all the answers, Re-booters manage to maintain a level of resilience that serves as a life preserver in a rolling sea. I have to remind myself of this on a continual basis—I’d far rather be negotiating such unknown currents than be one of the many who find change and the unknown so frightening that they’d rather cling to whatever (dysfunctional) “known” they have than plunge into the shadowy depths. In fact, I can think of myriad examples of people I know who remain mired in situations (professional or personal) that no longer serve them because the specter of starting over is so petrifying. They don’t know what they’d do, how they’d get started, or if they’d “survive” in a new setting—I’m sympathetic. While the terrors presented by such scenarios are intimidating, the truth is that we’ve created something far, far worse in our minds than whatever reality is likely to dole out. At times such as these, we need to remind ourselves that our fears are products of our overactive imaginations, simply because we lack the Road Map To Our Future presented to us on a carved tablet, by angels descending from Heaven.

I’ve got some news for you, kids: the tablet is there, but our discovery of such will not involve Caravaggio’s angels. Instead, we’ve got to be willing to search around a little, reconsider previously dismissed talents, skills, and interests. Alas, as much as I have pleaded for some clear direction in my life, what I’ve received, instead, are a couple of persistent, low grade nudges. No trumpets. No lightning bolts. And no guarantee of success. But, here’s the encouraging part—despite all this, I still know I’m better off than I was four miserable years ago. Even now, with all this struggle and discouragement and obstacles in my way, I feel better equipped and stronger than I did when my life appeared to be far more promising and “successful.” And I ain’t blowing smoke when I say this. I am taking the time and trouble to share this with you as a means of encouragement! You are strong enough to take the step you’ve been fantasizing about. What is the change in your life that you wish for most? I want you to compare yourself to someone you know who has lived their life in fear. Don’t you feel sad for them? Don’t you imagine it could’ve been different for them if they’d only summoned the courage to try?

Now, get to it. I’m sure you’ve got tasks to cross off that list, goals to achieve…

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