A couple of days ago, I received news that my school district was going through a potential reduction in force, i.e. layoffs. I am a tenured teacher, but the numbers put me in the grey area of “might have a job next year, might not.” Which, of course, is not the most welcome news to receive at 2:30pm on a Tuesday.
Initially, I had several moments of panic. Wait! I passed the two year gauntlet! I am a valued member of my site! I have an apartment and the best roommate ever and a whole life that I love! This could all be gone by June?!
I had an inkling of excitement.
It was fleeting at first, like the tiny glow of an outdoor fire that just barely catches the spark. But as I thought about it more and more, that tiny glimmer started to grow.
What if I DO lose my job? Where can I go? Oh my god–where WILL I go? *sharp intake of breath* I could go….anywhere.
So many possibilities came flooding into my mind. I could teach overseas! I could pick an entirely different area of the country and teach there! I could move to a different district in California! I could *gasp* quit teaching all together and try my hand at something new!
The potential unpredictability of the future that had initially looked like a swirling black mass of chaos and despair was slowly coming in to focus as a possible avenue for adventure. And that’s when I realized: uncertainty is where the fun comes from.
To underscore this point, I was listening to a podcast by Andy Frisella yesterday in which he got off on a tangent about relationships. He mentioned that in the beginning, women don’t want flowers and endless ass-kissing, but instead they want to speculate about the relationship and have that ‘does he-doesn’t he?!’ feeling. In short, they want to be the ones that wonder.
As a woman, my initial thought was ‘but..but flowers are nice. I enjoy flowers.”
And then, I actually thought about it. Every single guy that has approached me with a no-holds-barred, let me give you my COMPLETE ATTENTION ALL DAY EVERY DAY approach has caused me to shy away in disgust. They left no room for confusion, and because of that, I wanted nothing to do with them.
The guy I’m dating now? I tortured my girlfriends for WEEKS with text message screenshots and drawn out analysis of weekend visits and eventually came to the conclusion that he ‘just wasn’t in to me’ about 700 times before our current situation. Long after my friends had written him off, the uncertainty of the relationship-the very cause of my angst-was what kept drawing me back.
Of course, you can’t live in the same uncertainty forever. Being up in the air about your job or your relationship loses its luster quite quickly if it goes on for too long. But in the beginning, the mystery is what makes life, life. Even if one ambiguity is clarified, it gets replaced with another. The moment you are ABSOLUTELY SURE about every single thing in your life is the moment that you stop living.
The infuriating and exhilarating paradigm of uncertainty is that it comes at the moment you are feeling the most settled. When you feel like you have life finally figured out, the universe says ‘surprise!’ and tips the apple cart over right in front of you just as you are blithely about to take the next step.
Life is meant to be lived, and if we don’t go out and chase adventure, sometimes it kicks in the door without an invitation. When that happens, though, you can bet your bottom dollar that the wind whistling through your home will make you jump up a lot faster and make some moves much more quickly than you would have keeping the door tightly shut.
But that’s what’s so freakin’ fun: figuring out how to get to the next level when there are actual challenges and puzzles that you have to muddle through. Walking on a sidewalk gets boring a heck of a lot faster that hiking through a windy ravine or a trekking up a steep mountain. And life gets more interesting the more apples you have to sidestep in order to reach your destination.
If you are facing uncertainty in any aspect of your life, get excited! Look at it from the lens of possibility, not the lens of despair. Our comfort zones are our biggest obstacles to progression, and you should be thanking anything that happens to shake that up.
And so, I am embracing the instability of life, no matter where it comes from. It may turn out that this time, the apple cart rights itself before spilling its load of Red Delicious across my path, but eventually, that cart will hit a pothole. And when it does, I will gleefully figure out the best way to dance through the tumbling crimson orbs and come out on top.