Written by Davis Nguyen
I’ve always felt uncertainty hung around like a bad cop waiting to catch me.
Growing up, uncertainty took the form of my basic needs. I wondered if my mother, little brother, and I would have food, electricity, or water the next day.
In college, uncertainty came in the form of impostor syndrome. I was convinced that Yale had admitted the wrong person and that any semester my professors would find out that I didn’t belong.
As I grew older, I thought uncertainty would go away, and it did—only to creep up again in new forms. My mom and little brother are now taken care of, I graduated from Yale with honors, and I work for company where I look forward to coming in every morning. But the fear of uncertainty still lingers. Will I still love my job a year from now? Will my income continue to provide for my family?
I’ve come to see that the only thing that is permanent about certainty is that there will always be uncertainty. We just have to learn to live with it.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned to put my fear of uncertainty behind me by being grateful. I am thankful my worst fears haven't come true, and I channel my energy towards being ready if my worst fears do become a reality. Instead of letting uncertainty hover over me, I proactively react to every twist in my life.
In my childhood this meant making sure I didn’t waste any food, use too much water when I showered, or forget to turn off the lights when I left a room. If my worst fears did strike, my mom made sure we had at least ramen, a neighbor who would let us use his shower, and spare flashlights in the closet.
In college, I studied harder than I thought I needed, and if the results from a test came back unfavorably, I sought help so next time I would do better.
I learned to live with uncertainty by being grateful for what I already had and making the most of it. If tomorrow brought greater uncertainty, I made sure to be mentally ready to handle it.
Constantly worrying about uncertainty is like worrying that it might rain next week. It might, but constantly fretting takes away from the sunshine you are getting this week. Agonizing over the potential rain keeps you from best using your time and energy to proactively prepare for it.
Make of the most of where you are and what you have. Be grateful for today. Tomorrow might not be as easy.
Davis (@IamDavisNguyen) graduated from Yale University in 2015. He currently lives in San Francisco and works at Bain & Company. When he’s not helping CEOs transform their companies, he is helping recent graduates figure out the type of life they want for themselves and helping them get there.