How to Move Through Agonizing Uncertainty


How to Move Through Agonizing Uncertainty

How to Move Through Agonizing Uncertainty

A woman in a relationship, job, city, or any situation that is breaking her spirit might remain there for fear of what leaving will bring. The uncertainty about whether or not she will survive that decision, and be happier for it, keeps her stagnant.

I’m well versed in the cloying feelings of uncertainty. I’ve gone through many bouts of it, and I find myself in it again. This time I’m sharing my process…

Currently, I’m waffling and wavering about every decision, feeling afraid to make one for fear that some mistakes cannot be undone (including sharing my fears). I wake up with knots of anxiety clutching my stomach and neck.

Over the summer, as you may recall, we launched an IndieGoGo campaign for a project called, The Glow Exchange, a traveling and empowerment opportunity for women professionals across the world.

It didn’t go as planned. For the months after, I racked my brain to figure out how: how can I make this happen? How do I tell you that we didn’t meet the mark? Then I let it go. All of the agonizing and worrying wasn’t getting me anywhere, so I resigned myself to this being a tabled project.

A few months ago, the president of The Association of Rural Women Professionals, Jackline Nanyunja, asked me to speak at their International Women’s Day event in May. (In true glow-effect style Jackline found me over Facebook at the absolute perfect time!)

Knowing that I couldn’t make the May trip, I asked if I could do a separate event in February and spend time with the community for the development of The Glow Exchange. I took the funds from the crowdfunding campaign and Jackline and I set to planning an empowHERment event for the women of Masaka and creating the future of TGX.

Now it’s here… I’m flying to Uganda on Friday.

Yes, I’ve been to Africa before. Yes, I’ve even been to East Africa, but this time something feels different. What if the development of The Glow Exchange doesn’t work again? What if someone notices that this person taking on a community project is a naive white girl that likes to travel?

Normally, I’ll only proceed with a project, relationship, or major life change when I’m certain of what it entails. To ensure that it works, I plan every detail of every step. Yet, the point of this trip is not to plan. The point is to let the uncertainty be my guide, to let my unknowing be my fuel to seek insight.

I must be willing to be dislocated, so that I can be present to answers and opportunities. I can’t go in with an agenda. I can’t think I can have any of this figured out. Truth is that what I don’t know can fill volumes.

So how do we move forward in this uncertainty?

1. Acknowledge what’s at the root of uncertainty.

We think that we’re afraid because we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. That’s not it. We’re afraid that what happens tomorrow will be so painful that we won’t survive – that our worst-case scenario becomes reality.

When I look closely at my uncertainty, it’s not the action of getting on a plane, being in Africa, or doing this work. The fear is anticipating what could go wrong and what people will think. My fear is trying to defend against someone seeing my inability to take on such an endeavor alone.

2. Recognize that failure is a natural part of life, and embracing uncertainty is key to defeating it.

Let’s get real: I’m going to mess up. I’m going to sound like an inexperienced idiot. But what’s the alternative? Getting more education? Getting my finances in better shape? Preparing and preparing and preparing until I’m no longer a possibility for progress? There’s NEVER going to be a perfect time to leap.

A person who can speak to both failure and success has an infinitely more dynamic life and can help others navigate both waters. There is no better schooling for compassion and authenticity. For every success story that you hear, there are at least ten stories of failure to accompany it.

3. Embrace the fact that nothing is completely within your control and you keep moving forward.

Every day when we leave our beds, we take an enormous leap of faith that we will be safe. We trust that other drivers are as careful as we are. We trust that our food was checked by the FDA. We ignore possibilities of danger and unknowing.

It is just as likely that you will survive your break-up, your career change, and a trip to Africa as it is that you won’t. Life is about taking risks, and without uncertainty, growth would not exist.

I’m trusting that I have a calling. What if all I get from this trip is what life is like for one human being? What if all I get is an experience of another community? It’s all possible and it’s all worth it.

4. Remember why venturing into uncertainty is important. 

Your growth isn’t just for you. You’re more effective, loving, and creative when you’re powerful, unattached, and fearless. Making a change and venturing out of cozy comforts is for the good of all of us. We need you to come alive for the good of the world.

My why is you. The Glow Exchange and overcoming challenges and fears are meant for us to become a stronger leaders and visionaries. Focusing on MY fears keeps me living small. Focusing on your growth, our growth, is my strength.

Nothing conquers uncertainty like facing it. Moving forward brings you face to face with risk but also with hope. When you make an intentional choice to embrace uncertainty, you take back your power. Not only will you be at peace with what may come, you will also have released your attachment to things going exactly as planned.

At this time next week, I’ll have taken thousands of steps to get to Masaka and face my fears. I’m willing to take responsibility for the women of this community even if I didn’t cause their challenges, even if I don’t seem related to them. I’m going to Uganda so that we all can benefit from their unrealized power and brilliance. I’m going to Uganda so that I can come back and share the possibilities that other communities hold. In this way…

WE are going to Uganda.

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