Uncertainty is Perfectly Okay

Photo Credit: Kyle Bianchi / CC0 1.0
No one can predict the future, no one. There is no way to know absolutely everything about what is going to happen in your career or life. There will be times where you feel lost, even confused, or frustrated in life. That's perfectly normal. People may think of it as a bad thing, but you can frame it in a positive mindset. Being "lost" will give you the space to explore what you like, don't like, and unlock your passions.

There is a huge chance you'll want guidance and direction. I want to tell you that it's okay to reach out for it. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness. It's a sign that you want to grow and want to learn from others' experiences. Other people, especially the ones that appear to be the most successful, don't have all the answers, and that's perfectly fine. We’re all finding our path through life in our own way.

When I first started college, I had a plan. Since I liked working with computers and was pretty good at it compared to my peers, I planned to major in Computer Science and make tons of money doing computer programming. It made natural sense to me. It was a good plan until it didn't work out.

It took me some time (about a year) to realize that Computer Science wasn't for me. In order to take the Introduction to Computer Science, I had to finish all the Calculus prerequisites. See the thing is, I never took Calculus in high school, and I was pretty decent, but not great at math. So I didn’t give up on my goal and started with College Algebra and tried to work my way up to Calculus.

I didn’t think that College Algebra would be that much different than high school Algebra 1. I learned pretty quickly that it was very different. It covered different material than what I’ve been exposed to, was covered in more depth, and much more rigorous. Combine that with the quarter system, where the classes were only 10 weeks long, I had to cram all of the information and develop my Algebra skills in that short amount of time. If I was in the semester system, I might’ve done better, since the semester would’ve been about 15-18 weeks long, but that’s hypothetical.

Needless to say, I didn’t pass College Algebra the first time. I didn’t give up. I needed to pass so I can move on to College Trigonometry and then all the various Calculus courses.

The second time around, I again didn’t pass. I wasn’t as focused as I should’ve been nor did I put in the effort that I should’ve. Anyway, I realized that this path wasn’t for me and I ended up having to switch from Computer Science and find another major.

I didn’t know what to do. Studying Computer Science was my plan for the past three years. It was all I thought about in my junior and senior years in high school. My problem was, it was the only thing I thought about.

I had no Plan B. Plan A was studying Computer Science in college, graduating, and landing a high-paying job afterwards. That was it. Having to switch majors forced me to brainstorm different options of what to do next and dig deep to see what my passions were. I had to ditch my plan that I had for the past three years and find a new one.

The good news is that I wanted to be so many things, but I didn’t seriously consider any of them as a career. I didn’t know what I wanted to be. Growing up, I wanted to be a lawyer that fought for justice (especially for the little guys). I wanted to be an artist that changed the world through what I created. Since I loved being in school and my family highly valued education, I also wanted to be a teacher. There were so many other options along the way. I remember going through the list of majors and seeing myself studying all of them. Picking a Plan B was so overwhelming

But at that time, as a college sophomore, I was totally stressed out. My initial life plan just fell apart. I felt lost and hopeless. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t feel like I was okay, but I was. At that time, I didn’t know that I would’ve eventually found my way and turned out fine.

So after trying different classes that I was interested in, I eventually fell in love with the field of Sociology. It was super interesting to me to learn about how society works, discussing why things are the way they are, and what we can do about it. I was captivated in deep discussions about social issues like poverty, juvenile delinquency, economics, discrimination, and how they’re all intertwined. I was mind blown when I learned that many labels and identities are a social construct. Learning how complex society was was a changing point in my life. I could no longer see life the same ever again. I was in.

At one point, I was so moved by learning about the injustices that plague our society, I felt that I needed to do something about it. That was what I was going to make a career out of. Coincidentally (or not), whenever people wanted to be more enlightened about an issue, they usually said that they needed to “get educated” on the subject. Hearing that in class and watching it on TV led me to the idea that if people were more educated, we’d have a better world. So, I decided to be a teacher.

I decided that being a high school English teacher was the role that fit what I wanted to fill. In that role, I’d be able to positively influence youth and take a proactive approach to helping create social justice.

Everyone needed to take English to graduate and everyone needs reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills no matter what career they’re in. If they are strong in those skills, they’ll have higher  chances of being successful in life.

Also, high school is the stage of life right before adulthood, so it’s a very crucial time in everyone’s life. I saw that as an opportunity to help a lot of people during an important time in their lives.

Ever since then, I’ve enjoyed a successful career in education. I’ve helped many people learn about the value of education, develop their English skills, taught them how to think, and helped them move on to college or other post-secondary options. Although not all of my students have been success stories, I can wholeheartedly say that while they were with me, they had a good experience. They may not have passed English, but I made sure that they learned something. Whether they passed or not, I wanted them to learn something and have a good experience in class. I put every effort that I could think of to make sure that all my students, no matter how they were in my classes, left better people than when they first came in. Now I help even more students by training and coaching teachers. It’s been a fun and satisfying journey.

Back when I was in college, there was be no way that I would’ve known how my life was going to turn out. As uncertain as my life was, I was okay and my life since then has been pretty good.

Uncertainty is an unavoidable part of life. It’s something that everyone has to deal with, people just get better at dealing with it. As you grow older, more experienced, and more mature, you become increasingly comfortable with uncertainty. You may never be 100% comfortable with uncertainty, which is fine, because the thought of the unknown can be scary.

I remember back in college, I told a staff member that I felt lost because I didn’t know what to do with my life. He wisely said, “You’re going to feel that way for a very long time.” He was absolutely right. (Thanks Enrique!)

Many years later, I’m still figuring out what to do with my life, and that’s okay. That’s something that I know I’ll always be figuring out, which can be intimidating, but also is pretty exciting. As uncertain as life can be, I have faith that it’ll be okay.

Roderick Conwi is a professional development coach and writes at NourishmentNotes.com about lifestyle development. He is also the proud parent of two silly boys. To get powerful insights that enhance your day, join his free newsletter.