On Certainty

One of my dear friends from college, who is currently attending law school at Georgetown, (yes, she is brilliant) had some time amidst her frenetic final schedule to connect on the phone. Yes, in the age of texting and snap chatting, we spoke to one another.  Although we don't get to talk as frequently as I would like, we are able to pack quite a lot into our catch-ups. She is as thoughtful and grounded, as she is intelligent which for a friend is a stellar combination. We share our candid feelings and help to develop one another's frame of mind. I am especially grateful for these affirming discussions. 

While we talked of both being busy, doing things, and hopefully doing the right things to shape a future we can be proud of, there was a general undertone of, well "I'm not really certain but..." Certain about professional goals, personal goals and well, goals in general.  It made me feel a bit better that someone I admire for being so "together" is uncertain too. I've come to the conclusion that I need a role model who isn't certain. Who doesn't know exactly what they want to be or maybe never did. But they are happy. Adaptable. And pleasantly accepting of the unknown.

Almost every person I have read or heard about, who has achieved something formidable by our society's standards, seemed to have a very clear mandate or inclination toward their goals. Whether divinely, personally or otherwise inspired, they just "knew" what they were meant to do. Since birth, they were singing, dancing, inventing, swimming, creating.  Others find their calling later in life, but there is still a level of certainty in what is right before them - the steps they should take to get to their desired destination. As for me, I've been breathing since birth. I learned to swim by diving into a lagoon when I was probably four or five. Been worrying about lots of stuff since I was about nine or ten. Ask my parents.  Hopefully been a good family member and friend for as long as I can remember. Besides that, I generally go in the direction of what satisfies my intellectual curiosity or warms my heart. More concrete than that though, I'm still trying to figure it all out.

There is abundant research about specific goals. Make SMART goals, they told us in college. Specific, measurable, umm. achievable, I think? Realistic and, time bound. These are great in theory. For me, the over thinker, it feels like a lot of pressure, though. Small goals, I'm fine with, but the bigger stuff, the life list kind of stuff is the real doozy. Where is the calm, uncertain guru in the storybooks?

Much of life just happens, and we never could have anticipated or adequately prepared for it. These detours are still a part of our story, nonetheless. Maybe they were the intended path all along unbeknownst to us.   There aren't enough of these sorts of success stories, about people who can do many things but weren't always sure what they were meant to do. Life still turned out quite special, filled with memories, a comfortable balance of ups and downs, and a general feeling of self-worth. Success stories don't have to be about certainty. They can be about the unknown, and the process. Embracing where we are as we discover where were going.  

I love this sentiment; it captures what I am trying to say in far fewer words. 

"The important thing is to strive towards a goal which is not immediately visible.  That goal is not the concern of the mind, but of the spirit."    ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Flight to Arras, 1942

Certainty. I want it and sometimes need it. But it's like a unicorn and exists only in the abstract. Besides, if my life depended on a unicorn sighting, well... sh*t. 

Thanks as always for the chat, Maria.