Life Musings

Chasing certainty

“Are you sure you’re sure?” A gentle elbow stops me from following behind the footsteps of my realtor as a subtle whisper seeks my attention. It’s my cousin, carrying her soon-to-be two year old on her hip so that she doesn’t step on the debris strewn around the house. 

I stop and smile. “Yes, I’m sure!” I say it enthusiastically with several head nods, avoiding her eyes full of concern.

It’s a lie. I am not sure, but I desperately wish I was. I want so badly to be certain that I fake it while my mom, stepdad, cousin, and sister follow the realtor from room to room, eyeing the empty mattresses, left behind furniture, and trash piled in every corner. They are gracious, but their expressions mirror the grim reality- this is a piece of work.

Chasing certainty

(Just one of the many rooms totally trashed when the previous tenants moved out).

Also, it smells bad.

So no, the truth is I’m not sure and I’m scared. I’m scared that I’m making the wrong decision. That I am getting in over my head and it’s too late to back out. I’m scared that everyone is right but me and I’m being stubborn instead of wise.

Mostly, I’m scared that I can’t trust myself.

Because of this, the thing that I crave most is certainty. I want the belief that this is 100% going to work out the way I hope it will to overwhelm my senses with so much clarity that I don’t have to fake anything. I want to know that if I proceed, I can do so with complete confidence and the inner knowledge that I have made the right choice even if (when) obstacles appear on my path.

I fear being wrong and so I fear uncertainty. (Yeah, we’re talking about that again).

The thing is, no matter how sensitive or intuitive I am, I can’t know it all. I can’t predict how something will unfold. I don’t know what challenges will arise or what surprises will make me smile with delight. I can guess. And surmise. And use the wisdom I’ve gained from past experiences to help guide me along the way.

Chasing certainty


   (Sometimes life feels like one giant solar eclipse, squinting for the light).

But I can’t really know.

And so I find myself faking it. Or forcing it. And trying to control it.

I seek validation from others to confirm my choices while staying on high alert for signs of danger or blessing. I spend my time chasing certainty because the truth is I feel the most vulnerable in not knowing. It’s as if I’ve been discovered and this secret thing that I’ve been hiding is suddenly let out for everyone to see. And it feels shameful and bare and cold.

“I don’t know.” I don’t know if this is the right house for me. I don’t know how long I’ll stay at my current job. I don’t know if or when I’ll get married. I don’t know if I’ll ever finish writing my book. I don’t know why loss and love are so inextricably intertwined. I don’t know if I’ll always be healthy. I don’t know when my family will die. I don’t know if I’ll have kids.

The list of things I do not know is really, really long.

And to be honest it totally freaks me out.

I can’t say that my “fake it ‘till you make it” go-to is the best approach. I think sometimes I can be the bull in the china shop stomping my feet and flaring my nostrils because I need something, anything to happen. Waiting in that precious no-man’s land of neither here nor there, is not my forte. Being still with the mystery isn’t either.

So I’m not sure barging ahead in the presence of doubt or fear is the best advice. Sometimes clarity does come with stillness. And solitude.

Chasing certainty

One thing I am sure of- Maya is the cutest!

Yet, what if there are some things we can never really be sure about? What if there’s an ebb and flow to our lives that demands a shadow of doubt remain part of our daily experience? What if its very existence was paramount to our ability to love, to connect, to be intimate and vulnerable and honest?

What if we didn’t try to hide our unknowing or wrestle with the mystery? What if we were less sure and used our ability to tolerate this uncertainty as a measure of sanity and strength? What if we stopped asking ourselves and others to be “positive” or definite or 100% convinced and instead prodded each other to be centered, grounded, flexible?

I am still learning how to make peace with the fear of not being sure. I am gently exposing the layers of shame that cause me to pretend I know more than I do. I am listening for the wisdom of my doubt and asking it to be an ally. What is it here to teach me? How can it lead me toward a deeper knowing rooted in Spirit?

I don’t know yet, but I know that I have to trust, lean in, and  surrender. Especially when I want nothing more than to be sure.

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