Community + Uncertainty
A Story and A Reading List
Does it need to be said? We are all feeling it in one way or another. Uncertainty is all around us, and it always is, but there’s something about this moment in time that makes it seem slightly more prevalent, especially in the field of Community.
I’m not here to give you mental health advice, or claim that I know the solution to getting out of this.
I’m here to share a little story about uncertainty with you, my Community friends…a story that few people know. And when it concludes, I’ve got a reading list you might find helpful.
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The year was 2014. I was on a personal development retreat in Bali…deep into reflection about my life. I had a striking revelation about how much I feared Uncertainty and that all the issues in my life were a direct result of me trying to control everything in order to avoid…Uncertainty. It was at that time that I asked myself, “What if, instead, I learned to embrace uncertainty?” And so, going into 2015, my phrase for the year became “Embrace the Uncertainty.”
That phrase meant a lot of things to me…I won’t share them all here. But what I will share with you is the part of me that was driven to better understand Uncertainty. Why did I fear it? What made me this way? Why did it have this hold over me? How does one manage Uncertainty, if it can be managed at all? And the most consuming question of all of them in my mind: How do I “fix” things so that Uncertainty isn’t an issue for me anymore? (Oh how I laugh at that thought today!)
For many months, I studied the topic of Uncertainty like my life depended on it. I sought out and read a number of books (listed below) about it. I took copious notes, particularly on the tactics I could put in place right away. I blogged about my takeaways. It was a frequent topic during sessions with my therapist. After those many months, I realized I had learned some pretty significant things, and I wanted to share them in a unique way.
With that, Uncertainty School was born. This 4-week live e-course was my way of sharing and summarizing the best of what I had read and learned. I wasn’t trying to be a life coach or a counselor. I just figured I would give people an interactive shortcut vs spending the time reading the 7 books I covered.
Seven people enrolled! I was thrilled that the number was greater than zero! (Shoutout to my Uncertainty School graduates!)
Week 1 kicked off in the first week of November 2015. Week 2 is when life handled me my biggest Uncertainty challenge yet: My mother suffered a stroke. She’s still with us today, though her life, my life, and my family’s lives were forever changed. I felt like destiny had been preparing me for that moment, and it was now time to use all of the teachings I had learned about Uncertainty. Needless to say, I’m still working on this today.
In a nutshell, here’s what I learned about Uncertainty:
You can “plan” for it all you want, and you still won’t always know what to do when it hits.
It affects everyone. EVERYONE.
Accepting Uncertainty helps, but it won’t “fix” your ability to manage it.
Most of the time, Uncertainty = Growth.
It’s f*cking hard to deal with Uncertainty, no matter how much you know about it.
One does not “overcome” Uncertainty. You learn how to work it into your life, much like grief.
For all of the job seekers out there dealing with Uncertainty today, I want you to know that the feelings you are managing are the same feelings you will (or maybe have already) experience in other moments of your life. Keep doing the work…not just the job search work, but the personal growth work. You WILL find yourself in a better situation soon, and then, you can look back and be proud of how you tackled Uncertainty.
The 7 books I read, back in 2015, to better understand and manage Uncertainty. (If you know of a book on this topic that’s come out since 2015, I’d love to know about it!)
“Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel for Brilliance” by Jonathan Fields
“Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change” by Pema Chödrön
“Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion” by Pema Chödrön
“Who Moved My Cheese?: An A-Mazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life” by Spencer Johnson
“Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert
“Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” by Brené Brown
“Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” by Brené Brown
If you have a story of embracing Uncertainty, I invite you to share it in the comments. ❤️