“Self-doubt and uncertainty are ok. Write anyway.”
~ Brené Brown.
Why do I want to be a writer? Why did I quit my job? Why don’t I want to teach anymore? WHY? WHY? WHY? The critical voice in my head that doubts me continually bombards my mind with questions.
You know you’ve read a good book when you want to re-read it. Many of my friends are Harry Potter fans and I hear them say that they re-read the series every so often. With fiction, I have more of a disposable mentality. Read it once, then give it away. However, non-fiction makes me take a second look (IF it’s worthy). “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brené Brown is one of the many great non-fiction books that I have re-read. The subtitle is “Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are”. Quite appropriate considering my career change, don’t you think?
One of the biggest revelations when reading Brown’s book came when she wrote about uncertainty. When speaking of faith, and then reason, most assume that they are “either/or” topics. For example, you either live by faith or you don’t. You either accept religion or science. According to Brown, “We force ourselves to choose and defend one way of knowing the world at the expense of the other.” ( p. 90). I like the idea of faith AND reason. “We need both faith and reason to make meaning in an uncertain world,” writes Brown.
Most of us want certainty in our life, especially me. I like knowing where my next meal is coming from, that my paycheck will be deposited in my bank on a consistent basis and that my home will be there for me to rest safely and securely in tonight. This is how most of us operate. We don’t do things recklessly, but take time to reason things out. Count the costs. Weigh the odds. Consider the options. Most people that have acquired wisdom, have this skill.
I do think, though, that if we always operate in “reason” (certainty) mode, a significant number of us would not have children (heck, a significant number of us wouldn’t even BE here to have children!). Many of us wouldn’t get married (or divorced, for that matter). Lots of us would still be living with our parents, because it is “reasonable” to save enough money to buy a house, a car, etc. However, that’s not the case for the majority of us. We take steps of faith (or uncertainty). We do not know the outcome of having a baby, but we go ahead and get pregnant. We do not know how long our marriage will last, but because of love, we go ahead and get married. We do not know when or how we will buy a house, but we go ahead and move out of our parents’ home.
So, I have taken the path of uncertainty. I do not know the outcome of my career change, however, I have gone ahead. And I have learned that I feel most alive when I am doing something uncertain.
I am not a fan of amusement parks, especially roller coasters. I can tell you that the few times I’ve been coaxed onto one are some of the most memorable experiences of my life. The anxiety and anticipation of waiting in line seems almost overwhelming. Each step closer brings a new bead of sweat on my brow and my hands gripping even tighter together. I realize that my entire life rests in the hands of a teenager (most likely) that’s operating this complicated feat of engineering. When I finally get strapped in the seat and the blood rushes to my face before we even move, I do feel very alive and yet, preparing for death at the same time. As the final checks for safety are being made (and I’m silently saying my last prayers), I hear the click, click of the safety bar as I try to push it down even harder against my mid-section. Now the “fun” begins as the coaster slowly climbs its way up the hill and my heart is pumping. Each jolt towards to the top is met with a jolt of energy in my body — again telling me that I am very much alive. Finally, a momentary pause where I silently question “Why did I get on this thing?”
Then the RUSH. Zoom. Downhill as my stomach lurches up. Screaming from within and out. Whipped left, then right. Down and up again. Gripping the bar. White knuckles. Muscles tensed. The car begins to slow down and my eyes slowly open.
Finally, it’s over and I’m thankful that I’m still alive.
Very similar to what I’ve felt on this journey of career change. Anxiety grips me, but will not kill me. There have been and may be more twists and turns, but through the entire ride I have felt more alive than ever. And after the ride is over, boy oh boy, what a story I have to tell.
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