Transposing emblem by Alejandra Baccino
What is it about planning ahead that makes us feel in control? As if nothing could happen outside of our strategically thought-out plan; nothing will make us question everything we always took for granted.
You grow up, you go to school, and if you are lucky you will end up in a job you don´t hate; you find a partner, start a family… grow old.
But, what if all this just doesn´t feel quite right?
What if, suddenly, it all changes and you are left wondering why this happened to you? We panic. The floor, once so stable, becomes quicksand waiting for a misstep to engulf us whole.
Why does the unknown have to be so frightful and negative? What if, instead, we embraced it as a new adventure? Why settle down when you have that little something stirring inside of you, screaming that this life, this plan is just too easy and too dull for you?
Finally, you look at your reflection in the mirror and you make a promise to yourself. You know it won´t be easy and you know that somewhere along the path you will feel pain, you will miss something, you might even regret the decision. Yet, nonetheless, you forage out into the unknown, with hopes and fears, eagerness and doubts.
Having been born and raised in a third-world country that underwent a huge economic crisis, uncertainty became a part of my life at an early age. Splurging was out of the question as every peso had to be planned, saved and carefully spent. Your parents had a job and an income until, all of a sudden, they might not anymore. Living at the edge of the abyss while seeing your parents struggle and fearing that the following night your life might change completely, bred a generation of academic over-achievers and people seeking government employment.
What does this mean? Our generation was instilled with the conviction that the more degrees you held, the better your future would be. And so we took advantage of free university education and all went and studied for traditional careers. We became accountants, nurses, lawyers and dentists.
It was too late when we realized that academic excellence did not provide any certainty whatsoever regarding the future, as the aftermath of the financial crisis kept hitting close to home, with doctors working as taxi drivers and lawyers selling their most precious possessions. The tide shifted then, and the only safe haven became working for the government – a boring, monotonous and unchallenging clerk type of work in the many offices of the many ministries and agencies of our government. Stamp after stamp, and coffee after coffee, the self-confidence and spirit of self-improvement slowly fading away in exchange for the safety only a civil servant´s job can provide.
As predicted by Ayn Rand, our society started regressing. All those wanting to escape the claws of our dull and corrupt society fled to other countries looking for the excitement and opportunities they provided.
Over time, the financial situation improved and stabilized, but even then, that scourge was ingrained so deep within our nature that instead of moving forward we transferred it to different areas. Leaving your job to follow a dream or to travel the world is seen as immature and hippie-like, especially if that job has great health insurance. Not wanting kids is considered selfish and a cause of regret later on in your life. Being suddenly single when you are 30, after ten years in a relationship requires a lot of explaining. And why should I explain myself?
That was the moment when I realized that uncertainty is just a state of mind. Our cultural and emotional baggage is what makes us scared of it. As certainty is studied in the fields of mathematics, logic and physics; uncertainty is studied from a psychological perspective and the way it affects our emotions and our social behavior. What would happen if we learned to deal with uncertainty the way we deal with certainty, instead of letting it cause so much stress and anxiety? Shouldn´t it be taught as part of the natural process of life? After many tears, when I finally understood that my uncertainty was a dynamic circumstance instead of a static situation, I realized that I could finally let out that feeling stirring inside of me, let it take me away and open all the doors available to me. The risks are mine to take, and no one´s to frown upon. As you begin making friends with this uncertainty, you become acquainted with fear, and instead of finding it overwhelm you, it pushes you to be braver than before, to accept that you do not know the future – a liberating and, ultimately, rewarding experience.