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Uncertainty Is Your Friend

It seemed so recent when I was 18 and uncertain what I wanted to do with my life. There were so many options available to me due to the decent grades I had in high school. My parents wanted me to go to university to get a degree that promised a good career. After some thoughts, I chose this route and was unprepared for what awaited me.

To put things simply, my plans for university didn’t go the way I wanted. My grades plummeted and I failed courses. My future was filled with plenty of uncertainty as I was unsure if I could get a job in the field after graduation. The fear of the uncertainty was probably a key factor for the anxiety and depression I faced.

I’m sure I’m not alone when it comes to the fear with uncertainty. We humans like to have control over our lives. We make plans and schedules so we have a sense of control. When certain events happen out of the blue, we struggle to adapt. Oftentimes, we make excuses for things we have no control over. We blame others and society if things aren’t going our way.

As soon as things stopped going my way in university or life as a whole, I blamed everyone like my classmates, parents and professors. I wasn’t willing to bear any of the blame because I thought that I had no control. I also started looking back into the past and wondered about the what ifs scenarios. For instance, I wondered what my life would be like if I hadn’t gone to university.

As someone who spent too much time looking into a past he couldn’t change, I became terrified of the uncertain future. I didn’t want to make the same mistakes and suffer more pain. I wanted more control over my future so I could turn things around for the better. In truth, I wanted control no human could ever acquire unless they had access to a working and accurate crystal ball.

Steadily, I learned that uncertainty isn’t there for make us afraid or suffer. I was too foolish to realize that, while uncertainty gives us less control over what will happen, it’s also the reason why we can change the future if we aren’t happy with our present. Without uncertainty, we’d know what’s going to happen and we’d be powerless to change the events if they are unfavorable.

Imagine a male protagonist in a story. The writer has decided that he would lose his parents at a young age and sold into slavery shortly after. While the protagonist likely won’t favor such a development, he’s powerless to decide his fate as the writer is in full control. His future depends on the mood of the writer and things won’t go his way unless the writer says so.

I personally don’t want another being to decide what happens to me. I want to choose my own future and write the future chapters of my life. Uncertainty gives me that power because nothing is set in stone until something takes place. What I do in the present will have an impact on my future so, if I’m not happy with the direction I’m headed, I can take actions now that will bear fruit in the years or decades to come.

In a way, uncertainty also makes our life exciting. We have no idea what the day brings and we can only find out by getting up from bed. I always find it odd that we have no problem flipping the pages of a novel to discover what fate awaits the protagonist. When we are the protagonist of our own story, we should have the same attitude as to welcoming whatever surprises life prepared for us.

Life is filled with many surprises, some good and some bad. What makes them good or bad is highly subjective and, as we age and mature, we might discover what we perceived as a bad event proved to have a positive impact many years later. We simply don’t know unless we move forward towards the future.

Uncertainty was once my biggest enemy. Now, it’s my best friend. With it by my side, I know I can chart the course of my future to whatever destination I want. Oddly enough, uncertainty has also become my teacher as well. It prepared lessons and challenges along my journey so I can learn and grow into a better person than I ever was.

Uncertainty Is Your Friend

Rick Chen

Rick Chen is a university student suffering from anxiety and depression. The many setbacks he had over the last few years taught him to look at life with a different perspective as he sought for answers to his problems. As a sufferer of mental illness, Rick wishes to play a greater role in fighting the mental illness stigma. Therefore, he started the website: Dealing with Anxiety and Negativity (DWAAN).

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APA Reference
Chen, R. (2018). Uncertainty Is Your Friend. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 18 Nov 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.