For pretty much all of us, certainty plays a pivotal role in our lives. The 'known' is safe. It is comfortable. It is easy. It is predictable. There's a reason why we call it a 'comfort zone', as it's the realm where we feel comfortable and certain about what to expect. I've lived in that zone for almost my entire life, and while it most definitely all the things I listed -- and more -- it's also incredibly stifling, can become boring, and really limits personal growth.
I was inspired to write this post after reading a quote from Mark Manson's book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck -- "Certainty is the enemy of growth." It really resonated with me, because, as I said, I spent the majority of my life firmly entrenched within my comfort zone. I'd worry and obsess over every detail about anything going on in my life, making sure I felt certain and comfortable moving forward. I'd badger people with questions, and repeat myself ad nauseam to ensure my certainty. I'm pretty lucky no one throttled me at any point -- though I'm sure some were pretty close.
There's a reason I believe I've personally grown more in the last two years than the previous 20, and it's because I began letting go of my kung-fu grip on certainty. It's not been an easy process, and I definitely find myself slipping at times, because embracing uncertainty is just plain hard -- especially when you've conditioned yourself to avoid it at all costs. I attached so much fear around the unknown that I was content to live an un-interesting and overly dissatisfied life because I didn't want to risk the pitfalls of uncertainty.
When I finally reached my tipping point and drew a proverbial line in the sand at the level of unhappiness I had in my life, it was almost a case of, "Well, things are this bad now -- how much worse could they be if I try something else?" It's a bit of a sobering moment when you feel as though you have that little to lose, but that's where I found myself.
I didn't take some kind of long-jump leap into uncertainty -- I started with tip-toes -- though eventually found my stride. In encouraging myself to let go of that absolute need for certainty, I've been able to embrace uncertainty and all that comes along with it: failure, success, excitement, growth, possibility, and opportunity. You'll notice I mentioned 'failure' in there as well, because welcoming uncertainty into your life inevitably invites failure as well. I've had things go wrong in minor ways, and completely askew; and I wouldn't have it any other way. In learning to accept failure, I've learned to ultimately accept success, as one cannot exist without the other. I've also been able to let go of so much metaphorical baggage, and feel dramatically lighter as a result; letting go of negativity, judgement (self and external), the 'what if?' spiral, and the impossible standards to which I held myself -- all things I was "certain" about -- left so much room for personal growth and expansion.
I've not entirely let go of certainty in my life, and I don't want to -- there's a beauty in having things you can depend on and are confident of. However, my personal reins have been significantly loosened, and I feel so much more free by doing so. That's the feeling that comes along with un-shackling yourself from your comfort zone, and stepping out into the beautiful world of growth and uncertainty. I don't regret it for one moment, and I doubt any of you will either.