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October 25, 2021

2 Perfectly Paired Words that Calm the Ache of Not Knowing.

I’m a big fan of being in the know.

In the most basic sense, I like answers. I like knowing what’s coming next.

I like feeling prepared and capable. I like when things make sense.

I like my life—and the people, places, and experiences in it—to be neat and organized and reliable.

I have expectations for how things should go. And I’d like those expectations met, thank you very much.

And if you can promise me a full, money back guarantee if they go wrong? Even better. Sign me up.

A lot of this stems from anxiety, the base-level stress that I’ve felt since childhood. The mild panic that appears every time I can’t control my circumstances, which, let’s be honest, is pretty damn often.

Those who know me well know that when situations or relationships or dreams I’ve had start to circle the drain, or even veer just slightly off course from what I thought they’d be, I tend to deep-dive into worst case scenarios. My therapist refers to it as catastrophizing.

Oddly enough though, those who know me also know that I’m not a planner, by any means. As a child, I never created a timeline for when I’d finish school or start my dream job or meet my partner or get married or have a family. Because as much as I dislike uncertainty in my day-to-day life, I also dislike the feeling that my whole life, my future, is static—unchangeable. That there’s no opportunity for happy (or even not so happy) surprises.

Anytime I have planned, God has laughed (or hollered or rolled his eyes at me). So I move to the beat of my own drum—while silently aching to have a crystal ball in my hand instead. A way to know what’s ahead of me and how it will all turn out.

A few years ago, in the midst of a deep bout of catastrophizing, I found a quote by comedian and actress Gilda Radner, best known for being one of the seven original cast members of Saturday Night Live.

This quote has pulled me together when I needed the strength to be here, now. To accept the not knowing. To look forward to, and not be in perpetual fear about, the surprises yet to come. To recognize that whether I plan or I don’t plan, whether I know what’s coming or have no idea, life is still happening—minute by minute and moment by moment.

And the last two words? They are what calm the ache in my heart that comes from not knowing. Honestly, they might be my next tattoo:


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