December 25, 2020

2020: The Year we Broke Up with Certainty.

For someone who resists routine, I am also addicted to a level of certainty.

2020 changed that, not just for me—but for the whole world.

Whilst I (like to) subscribe to the “everything happens for a reason” mantra—is it really something I fervently believe?

If I am honest, probably not entirely. Or else, maybe it’s not the “happening for a reason” I struggle with—but the reason that never seems to completely clarify, therefore leaving me none the wiser.

I am a girl who needs a bit more control than what the universe prescribes—some certainty.

2020 seemed normal at first; I was confident of my day to day: my commute, my weekends, my days for having the boys (co-parenting), the days I was free, the friends I would see, and on what days, the job I was doing, that I’d be going on the holiday I was paying off, that my certain amount of money would cover my certain number of outgoings—the certainty of my reality was pretty much…as certain as could be. Right?

Cue COVID-19the certainty destroyer. My addiction to my certainties was ripped from me in every which direction.

Suddenly and literally within seven days, I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know if my kids would be in school, what my job needed from me, if I even had a job, when I would be able to see family again, if I was going to get sick, if I was going to be able to afford my bills, if I could keep my car, my house—even something as small as if the local supermarket would have any toilet rolls was a huge question mark, with no certainty to cling too.

In the absence of this, things that I had considered to be uncertain became very certain. I was certain I would go outside and walk in nature every single day. I was certain I would need to make the food I had last. I was certain that I needed to protect my family and that I was not going to see anyone else because of that, and I made peace with being alone.

But more importantly, and most surprisingly, I became certain about a few other things that I had been uncertain about for some time—who mattered, what mattered, and who the f*ck I was.

Losing my addiction to certainty in seven days was tough, but it was also like fast-tracking through a 12-step recovery program. The output was gratitude.

Whilst certainty gives us a sense of safety and purpose, it also leaves us with a huge gaping hole when we don’t feel we have it. The fact is, for me, certainty has always had an attachment to belonging. And in the absence of certainty, I have often tried to force certainty to underpin my need for belonging.

I have done this over the years in relationships, mostly, but also in friendships—usually to the detriment of it. Yet always in the quest for reassurance of belonging. Often, letting uncertainty define the situation as hopeless, redundant, or destined for failure—when I just hadn’t given the time or space needed for an uncertain situation to solidify. I left many ships before they even took on water.

I am sure that I am not alone here.

So, in this year of uncertainty, I have decided to reframe my whole perception of certainty and roll into 2021 with a better grip on prioritizing the things I need to be certain—and what I can, frankly, live with the uncertainty of.

I am certain that I can be alone—a lot—and not break. I am certain that the people I love and keeping them safe are my priority. I am certain that whatever the year has in store, I will be able to handle it. I am certain that regardless of the pursuit of a mutant COVID-19 virus, I will somehow find the means to keep going. I am certain that a little bit of uncertainty won’t kill me; in fact, it will only make me stronger. I am certain that relationships that matter will stay with me, and that those that don’t will not. I am certain that the people who count will always count. I am certain I can survive on less and be better for it.

I am sure that I belong.

Suddenly living with uncertainty has become my superpower.

I have discovered that I can survive and sometimes even thrive under the cloud of uncertainty. The fact that something isn’t certain can push me to be more productive, more resistant, more economic, more creative, more resilient, and more aware of being in the now.

I have realised that true belonging does not need the safety net of certainty to be real.

The lack of certainty has allowed me to be more present, more attuned, and better prepared for things to completely f*ck up, and then be okay again.

In fact, there has been liberation in the loss of all certainty, and I am not only an addict unhooked but a born-again advocate of uncertainty as a necessary component to being strong, resilient, and brave.

So, whilst 2021 looms and still reeks of uncertainty—things will be okay.

That I am certain of.

“The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers.” ~Erich Fromm


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