Life is a funny thing. We are born into this world and immediately expectations are thrust upon us, which may or may not be fulfilled. We are expected to talk and walk by a certain age, play sports and music, excel in one or more activities, do well in school, get into a good university or college, succeed in a great career, find a romantic partner to settle down with and the list goes on and on.
The truth of the matter is that our lives rarely follow the trajectory that we or others set out for ourselves. There is a saying that life is what happens to you when you are making other plans. I can give you an example from my life.
When I was an undergraduate university student I was unsuccessful in gaining admission to a Canadian medical school. One year after graduation I decided to apply to an offshore medical school, in the Dominican Republic, which I was not happy about at the time because I felt that I was exercising my last resort. At that time I did not realize that I would have the opportunity to learn a new language, Spanish, travel an entire country and meet my best friends.
These are experiences which have enriched my life and I never would have had if I had not made the decision to leave Canada to go to an international medical school. Although I was upset for a long time that I had not gained acceptance to a Canadian medical school, I soon realized the value of the different experience which was in store for me.
Although the road from an international medical school to get into residency training in the US and eventually make my way back to practicing medicine in Canada was a long and arduous road, it also taught me valuable lessons about persistence, determination and grit which I would not have learned otherwise.
I’m sure you all have examples from your lives when your life veered off the path that you planned for it. It happens to us all and we need to be flexible and resilient when this happens.
Here are 4 guidelines for dealing with any uncertainty in your life.
1) Be Open: Above all, life is a journey of discovering and learning and rarely does do we experience anything that is not meant to help us grow and evolve. When the unexpected crosses your open release your mental need to understand and make sense of it. Instead, open your heart to whatever feelings arise from this experience and try to feel into what is it is trying to teach you.
2) Be Still: When we are faced with uncertainty the natural tendency is try to change our outer reality to match the expectations we had set for ourselves before this happened. Let go of this need and just be with the experience in silence and stillness. This will allow the deeper meaning to emerge from what could potentially catalyze and perpetuate fear.
3) Journal: When you face the unknown you need to start journaling about it. This allows you to get all your thoughts and feelings out of your head and your heart and onto paper and may help you to uncover the higher purpose of this experience.
4) Be Patient: Uncertainty can catalyze fear, confusion and emotional pain. You need to bear the experience with patience, no matter how difficult it may seem in the moment. You may not immediately understand why you are going through what you are going through. However, if you have the patience and resolve to be with the uncertainty in the moment and navigate it to the best of your ability, it will open up paths and opportunities for you which you could never have anticipated before.
In summary, embrace uncertainty, when it happens, with all of your heart and soul and it will reveal to you the true depth of who you are far beyond your wildest imagination!
Nauman Naeem MD