With over a year under it’s belt, the pandemic has wreaked havoc in many ways. In addition to the chaos that it’s created, it’s left us all with a fuzzy view of the future; an ambiguous fog in our foresight. This past year has been riddled with uncertain outcomes and general not knowing of what the next week, month or year will look like.

That’s been unsettling for many, but I’m here to assert that it’s nothing too new; life is uncertain and in the end, that fact is one of the only certain things. This blog is about dealing with uncertainty in this pandemic and in everything else. I hope that the below message can find someone who needs it and I would love your help in spreading it!

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Believe it or not, I grew up with anxious tendencies.

Up until just a few years ago, I went through life worried about what was going to happen next and terrified that I wouldn’t have control over outcomes. These tendencies were largely due to the uncertain nature of my diagnosis; the fact that I could lose more sight on any given day made me a wreck on the inside. It wasn’t until I met my wife that I began to connect the dots and trust that everything was happening for a reason (second thoughts: an update).

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity. ”

Gilda Radner

If I fast forward (and rewind) to last year, we were faced with a tremendous amount of uncertainty surrounding what we had imagined to be the best day of our lives (our wedding). We had to make the difficult decision to postpone our dream wedding (wedding postponed) and instead, make the best of a tough situation. We got married with a makeshift wedding and it was better than anything either of us could have imagined (his plan, not ours). Following the wedding, things continued to look uncertain (between health, jobs and more) but as time went on, I realized more and more…

Uncertainties present opportunities.

I used to think that the people I looked up to didn’t struggle with uncertain futures. However, the older I get, the more I realize that everyone grapples with uncertainty (it’s unavoidable) – everyone feels anxious, everyone worries and everyone has doubts. What differentiates some people from the rest is the way in which they process and deal with those feelings that come with uncertainty. Just like getting stronger in the gym, getting faster or getting better at anything, embracing uncertantity is a skill that improves with intentional repetitions over time. We can build tolerence to uncertainty if we choose to; we can get better at controlling what we can control and surrendering the rest.

“Choosing to be curious is choosing to be vulnerable because it requires us to surrender to uncertainty. It wasn’t always a choice; we were born curious. But over time, we learn that curiosity, like vulnerability, can lead to hurt. As a result, we turn to self-protecting—choosing certainty over curiosity, armor over vulnerability, and knowing over learning.”

Brené Brown

I used to let “what if” get me so worried that I couldn’t function but I now realize that what if works both ways and true peace comes when we understand that we never really stand on solid ground (shoutout to Oliver Burkeman).

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We can’t control what tomorrow brings, but we can always control what we bring to tomorrow. Being uncertain is part of being human and we can’t change that. However, uncertainty isn’t a bad thing. It gives us room to dream, space to think and endless opportunities to grow. Embracing uncertainty and trusting that everything happens for a reason has freed me and I know that it can do the same for you. Like Bob Goff once said, “sometimes the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title until much later.” Before we I end this blog, let me leave you with one more quote…

“Looking deeper, we could say that the real cause of suffering is not being able to tolerate uncertainty—and thinking that it’s perfectly sane, perfectly normal, to deny the fundamental groundlessness of being human.”

Pema Chödrön

Embrace the unknown.

Joe Rinaldi, PT, DPT

IG: @joerinaldi.dpt

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