I don’t know where I’m going to be working one year from now. And it bothers me. It bothers me that I can’t be certain about my future. That the months ahead look foggy and obscure. That I’m in my 30s and I still can’t speak with any certainty about which direction my career is going to take.
Aren’t I supposed to have my profession figured out by now?
Shouldn’t I be living in a quaint little house with my husband and cat, surrounded by close friends and family, with a stable income and a solid routine that help me sleep peacefully at night?
Oh wait – I had that life. And I gave it up two years ago to pursue something different.
That “something different” involved taking a temporary job at Harvard, moving into a tiny apartment that costs way more than it’s worth, and giving up most of what made me feel safe.
Now, two years later, I’m staring uncertainty in the face again, and I’m not sure which direction to take. My work contract is up at the end of 2015, and while that might seem far away, in the world of the ivory tower it can take up to one year to secure a new position. And the competition is fierce. Each job opening receives up to 400 applications – and having Harvard on your resume guarantees nothing.
So I have a few options:
- Continue to work in academia, either by starting another postdoctoral fellowship or becoming a professor (if any universities are willing to give me that option).
- Continue in my current position at Harvard, which would involve switching to a new area of research, and is dependent on receiving funding that is uncertain at the moment.
- Go back to being an entrepreneur, leading workshops, teaching yoga, and writing books, without any secure source of income, which means I would have to move back to Canada because I can’t continue living in the U.S. without being employed here full-time.
- Perhaps a completely different career option, something that I haven’t even thought of yet.
To make matters worse, I’m having trouble listening to what my Soul wants. This is nothing new. I’ve always had trouble accessing my Soul, or True Self, and I’ve spent the better part of my adult life trying to develop a better relationship with this part of me that is always certain. That always knows. That isn’t affected by social expectations or fears.
My True Self and I have gotten closer over the years, but sometimes I still have trouble accessing Her. I sit in meditation and ask myself what to do. But nothing comes. I journal like a madwoman, hoping that somehow my hand will be “taken over” by the voice of my Soul (a process that I’ve read about in countless self-help books). But nothing. I go for long walks, I do yoga, I repeat positive affirmations, I ask for signs, I look for signs, I get mad at the lack of signs. Still, nothing.
I’ll be honest here. During these times, I have trouble painting on a happy face and acting like a zen master who can just glide through the uncertainty of life with ease. Instead, I look more like a stock broker on Wall Street, pointing and screaming and trying to force an outcome to happen right away. I get pissed off at the universe for not letting my life feel the way people on Oprah describe their lives – full of awesome synchronicities (and successful product launches, to boot).
But, when I step back and look at my life, I do see that it has been full of some pretty amazing events. Events that are woven together in an intricate web that does have a feeling of magic to it. I also realize that I’m complaining about what can only be described as first-world problems. “Oh no, I don’t know what to do about my career. Boo hoo!”
But I live in the first world. And these are my problems. So here it is:
I want to be of service to the world. And I want to feel passionate while doing it.
@BethanyButzer (Click to Tweet!)
This sounds so simple. But it has proven to be rather complicated to execute.
I think there are times in our lives when we’re meant to sit, stuck in the muck, and fester. We need to feel the ache of uncertainty deep in our psyche so that, ultimately, we learn how to surrender. Surrender to the fact that as much as we might try to plan and control and force an outcome, things don’t happen until they are ready to happen.
So here I am, toiling in the muck, waiting. For what? I don’t know. A sign, perhaps. A road map. A knowing. Heck, I’d take a small inkling of a knowing. Or maybe I’m just waiting to surrender to what is. To stop fighting against uncertainty and simply allow it to be here, with me. A companion in the same way that knowing is a companion that eventually passes.
This is the ebb and flow of life. Sometimes it sucks and other times it hurts, but if nothing else, it always just IS.
Are you feeling stuck in the muck? I’d love to hear about how you cope with uncertainty in the comments below!
Bethany Butzer, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, researcher, and yoga teacher who helps people create a life they love. Check out her book, The Antidepressant Antidote, follow her on Facebook and Twitter, and join her whole-self health revolution.
If you’d like tips on how to create a life you love, plus some personal instruction from Bethany, check out her online course, Creating A Life You Love: Find Your Passion, Live Your Purpose and Create Financial Freedom.
Image courtesy of Chris Sardegna.