Living with Uncertainty


Hi everyone!

Until recently, I have struggled with the idea of an ‘uncertain future’. I grew up in a family of government workers. In Turkey, if you work for the government, you are guaranteed for life. You have job security, full health care coverage etc. So, I valued guaranteeing things.

But I also have this side of me which sort of does not want to be confined. That kept me away from government work so far. It also made me move to a different country. When I came to the US, I had no idea what my future would look like. The only guarantee I had in front of me was the 5 years of PhD. I had no idea what would/will happen after that.

When I was in the middle of the PhD program, the reality of job prospects hit me harder. Most PhD graduates struggle with jobs. I was also experiencing personal changes, which made me question things that I was taking for granted. For example, I am not sure I want to live a stressful life anymore. At least not at the level of stress observed in academic circles.

The realization and the changes led to a total uncertainty about my future. Before, I at least had some potential ideas about what could happen later. But I saw that maybe none of these ‘could’s would happen. This challenged my ‘guarantee’ side. I struggled with this for a year and maybe more. This academic year, especially this semester, however, I have come to total acceptance of the uncertainty (as far as I can feel).

The recent situation with COVID19 was a test ground for me in that aspect. Now, a lot of things are uncertain: Will I be able to go back to Turkey in the summer? Will I be able to renew my visa (I have to do this when I go to Turkey)? If I can’t go in the summer, when will I be able to visit my family next? If I can’t extend my visa in the summer, how can I do it later? When will this situation end? I don’t have an answer to any of these questions but I did not react to this uncertainty. I feel comfortable with it. I think being at ease with uncertainty is becoming more of my nature. It is becoming a part of me. I am happy about this.

How do you deal with uncertainty? If you are comfortable with it, were you always like that or did you change (if the latter, how?)? If you are not, do you want to get rid of tenseness about it? Let’s discuss.


144 thoughts on “Living with Uncertainty

  1. Living with uncertainties is the worst thing ever but with it brings a lot of unplanned moments where one could truly realise what kind of person they are or what they are capable off.

  2. Being comfortable with your uncertainty is the key. Accepting it is the first step to taking control of it, so well done!

    To give in to it is to over think and that get nobody anywhere, whereas to ignore it is to dream and not much else.

    Being uncertain means there’s something you have encountered that was never in your original plan, as our experiences grow, we find there are lots of things that aren’t certain and nothing is guaranteed. We go forward hoping we made the best decision, how do you know if it isn’t? Unless you try, you won’t know.

  3. Granted, this is a cliche, but the only thing that is constant is change. Even having a guaranteed job, great personal wealth, we’re all at the mercy of the vagaries of chance. That is the deal. Just like knowing you will die, just not when and how is part of the deal. Solon, the Athenian politician once told the wealthy Lydian Croesus “count no many happy until he is dead.” Croesus was later captured by the Persians and died a prisoner.
    I.e. it’s the desire for certainty that might need to be addressed more than the chaos in which we live. Just a musing.

    1. Very true! I think our survival instinct forces us to ‘guarantee’ things but as you say, there is no such thing. And that desire for certainty should be minimized.
      Nice quote, by the way!

  4. Nice post
    But living with uncertainty when life itself is not certain.
    Nothing is permanent so is COVID.
    This situation has made everyone and everything uncertain and uncomfortable.
    We should focus more on what we have at this moment.

  5. Yes! My faith has a lot to do with my acceptance of uncertainty. This is actually a large part of my coaching practice because it is such a pain-point for many people. I recently went through a season that I struggled with it again, even knowing exactly how to handle it. Nevertheless I got a grip and embraced the uncertainty. In some respects you can see it as opportunity. Since we cannot see the future, think of every day like gift at Christmas. You get some you’d rather not, but other times you are totally pleasantly surprised – other gifts were exactly what you were hoping for! Yet no matter what the gift is, we have to be thankful. 😀

    1. That is a good analogy! I think the idea that someone thinks of us can make us happy rather than the gift itself (although the gift can make us happy too). In this, the gift-giver is God, so we can be thankful to Him.

  6. Hi Betul
    Thanks for taking time out to visit my blog. It makes it feel there is a purpose to it and adds positivity 😘 I love this post, In ‘normal ‘ times without the “C” word, I sometimes feel that people take everything for granted. All of a sudden life has been stripped back and they find themselves wanting. I have 3 grown up kids who have families, they are usually dashing about with not a minute to spare and just now, all the family meet up on video chat together 5 nights a week for an hour. It’s fabulous! I’m retired from work, so I had already changed, I need routine like most people, structure to the day. I schedule in 10 mins meditation 🧘‍♀️ in the morning, housework, painting, drawing, writing. I’m actually
    Enjoying the peace, I hope you are too xx

    1. What a nice feeling having all family gather must be! So happy this is all working in the positive direction for you! I think we are all realizing the value of people around us too!

  7. Absolutely,a lot more things are beginning to be uncertain. The world indeed will cease to remain the same undoubtedly.

  8. I pet my dog–a lot. I go outside when my anxiety becomes unbearable. I’m also trying to meditate on creating happiness out of ordinary moments.

  9. I just don’t sweat it. Uncertainty is something I have no control over. Instead, I focus on those things I can control and be happy with what I have.

  10. Thanks for sharing this post!

    I’m not great with uncertainty. (I tend to overthink or just freeze completely.) Starting a PhD in cancer research, I am vaguely aware that this is something I will have to deal with a lot. Think I will have to learn to accept it and find a way through that works for me 🙂 How do you like to deal with uncertainty? Cheers again for sharing!

    1. PhD students have an especially hard time with uncertainty due to many reasons. I was not able to deal with uncertainty at all. Now I am better but it came about only because I finally realized there are some things I just can’t change. Mind you, this realization came through many trials and a lot of resistance but I had to give in at the end. I don’t suggest anyone to go through that path. We need to remind ourselves often that we cannot control everything and everyone has different abilities.

      1. I’m glad you managed to get through the tough times and are better at dealing with uncertainty now! Yes, I agree. It’s focussing on what you can control 🙂
        (Thanks for the follow btw!)

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