While in school, we may not be faced with many decisions that could possibly change the direction of our life. So, we might have a vague plan of what lies ahead of us. It therefore often comes as a surprise when we then are suddenly faced with uncertainty. This is due to the misconception that “Life is a straight line”, no matter if your life is still running smoothly, you are in the middle of a crossroad or just made it over the fence. This article is relevant for all of you and I myself wish I had come across an article like this before hitting my first moment of uncertainty about life. The lesson I learned was that “We should not only embrace uncertainty in life but see it as a gift”.
For a very long time I had this plan about what my life would look like. Don’t get me wrong, I was never one of those people that had every single step and goal of their life set in stone by the age of 10. But I did have a vague idea of one day going to do my Bachelor, my Master, my PhD (even though I had no idea what that meant), and then work in some field related to my studies. Honestly, it was comforting to repeat that mantra whenever someone asked me what I would like to do in my future. Comforting in the sense that it gave me some sort of direction and goal. And it was reassuring, in that everyone I told about wanting to study Psychology, impressively encouraged me to do so.
It was a rather natural development that I started to see Psychology as the career I was meant to pursue. It therefore came as a surprise, when I realized that studying Psychology did not feel right at all. Suddenly, I was at a crossroad. Am I going to push through and ignore the fact that I felt more and more lost? Or am I going to change my situation and reorient towards swapping into another bachelor, or even stop studying? I wasn’t sure.
While I wasn’t really scared of simply the fact that I did not like what I studied, I was terrified of not knowing what comes next if I decided to change my path. As you may have guessed, I decided to swap into Communication Science. I had taken my time to reorient and walk along a new path. However, it took me until now to realize the gift I was given back then. Now, I am able to embrace the decision I am currently facing to make. And I hope that after reading these three suggestions, you will be equipped to do so, too.
…and just let go! When you hit a wall and suddenly face uncertainty just trust in the process. Trust that your body, mind and soul are simply signalizing that something you currently do is not benefiting you. This may be study-related, but it may also be hobby or relationship related. Of course, letting go is often easier said than done, such as when it concerns an entire bachelor. If panic holds you back from letting go, then write out the possible pathways ahead, a plan B or C you could take, talk to friends and family, and you will see once you find some stability within this situation, the panic within you will reduce and letting go won’t seem so absurd after all.
Holding on to something that is making you unhappy will not prevent you from facing a crossroad.
When you’ve laid out your options, it may even seem thrilling. Keep in mind that holding on to something that is making you unhappy will not prevent you from facing a crossroad, it will only lengthen your time of unhappiness until you eventually do face the uncertainty. But if you embrace this phase of change, then you will escape your unhappiness and pursue a new path. Hence, there is nothing you can lose but gain happiness.
Trust in the process
So, don’t fear uncertainty! While it may be frightening to embrace a moment of change, think of its positive sides. Uncertainty allows you to reflect on the path you took, the path you are currently on, and an infinite number of possibilities ahead. You are given a moment to reconsider who you are and whether your goals still align. And If you have no clue about what you want, don’t fear to ask for help!
In any case, I can only encourage you to seek out a career advisor at the UVA. No matter if study related or not, these people are amazing in helping you brainstorm what you want and what might be the right track for you. Thus, being given time to breath and reflect really is a gift, as part of a society in which we are pushed to keep going further and further. It reminds us of our humanity and the necessity to care for our body and mind along the way.
Live in the moment
Perhaps you still wonder how to “embrace” uncertainty. Instead of clinging to whatever you do right now that leaves you unfulfilled, you should use this moment of change to try something new. Brainstorm what your interests are, what passions you have, and what it is that you have always been wanting to do. Face your fears and strengthen your weaknesses through workshops or simply a good book. And don’t forget to live in the moment! Do what makes you happy right now, keep meeting your friends, and simply enjoy the moment. You will see that you will naturally make the decision that feels right to you.
I want to end on the note that you cannot make the wrong decision! Whatever path you will choose, your body will again signalize when it is time to change that path. While one may tend to regret a decision in hindsight, there is no need to. See the paths you take as lessons that you need to make to grow stronger and become who you are and perhaps who you want to be. So, let go of this misconception of life and trust in the process.
Enjoy the ride.
Cover: Mario Álvarez