Dealing with Uncertainty

down angle photography of red clouds and blue sky

There’s a lot of uncertainty that surrounds us daily. If we’re going to get really into it, none of us are even sure we’ll make it to tomorrow. The same goes for our loved ones. But there’s no need to think like that unless it’s to help you become more present in the now and with your friends/family. Otherwise, it’s just going to drive you nuts.

I honestly don’t know why I’m writing this, and I don’t know who will be reading this, but if you are, know that uncertainty is something we’re going to have to deal with whether we like it or not. This concept may seem obvious to some, but to me, it’s a concept I’ve known but never had to indeed experience until now.

I know nothing is guaranteed.

My situation

I know, however, I’m in an extremely lucky situation and am very appreciative of the opportunity to even experience pursuing my dream career.

The uncertainty with which I’m talking about personally has to do with my future career-wise.

Although everything is up in the air now (thanks to being on waitlist for medical school; I’m hoping to get accepted this cycle while preparing to reapply next cycle), I know for sure one thing: I want to be a physician. I want to help alleviate the mental, emotional, and spiritual suffering of people worldwide. Being a physician has been my dream ever since I was little, with many experiences weaving this thread throughout my life, leading me to this path.

I’ve studied for the MCAT. I’ve asked for Letters of Recommendation. I wrote my statement about why I want to be a doctor, and I’ve spent more money than I can count on Grammar Editing services on submitting over 20+ applications.

Sounds great so far, right? Wrong.

Because although I may have done all of the things above, and despite my accumulating clinical exposure hours, shadowing hours, research hours, shadowing, volunteering, there’s no “checklist” that’s going to guarantee a medical acceptance. In some cases, the difference between an acceptance and a rejection (or a decision to interview an applicant or not) can be so minor as the Application Reviewer having a good or bad day. There can be two people with the same motivation/determination/drive to become a physician, but one will be picked over the other simply because there are not enough spots. It’s a challenging situation to be in. I have significant respect for applicants before me and for those who will apply in the future.

An Analogy

Grab N Win Claw Machine 42
A claw machine

Familiar with these (stupid) things? The game where you optimistically put in $0.25 in hopes of grabbing a prize with the claw.

You put in the quarter and get control of the handle. Imagine I’m one of the plushy prize toys sitting with many others (fellow medical school applicants). You win the game if you can successfully carry the plushy toy to the exit and retrieve your prize without dropping it.

I feel like I’m one of the plushy toys that the claw has picked up and is now waiting in mid-air—the most intense part of the game. I’ve been picked up, and I have a chance! It’s so hard even to get picked up; I can’t believe I did. But damn, this thing isn’t sturdy (as we all know), barely anyone wins (as we all know), and most of the time, the toy drops down with the rest again.

But I’m on waitlists. So the claw has picked me up, noticed me, given me the light of day. But it can drop at any moment. I’m holding on by a claw’s force that I have no control over. Imagine being that plushy toy for a few months straight. That’s me at the moment.

I guess I’m losing my mind, and that’s why I’m writing this post.

TAKING ADVANTAGE OF UNCERTAINTY

There will all be a point in our lives when we have to come to this conclusion. Would you rather twiddle your thumbs in the nervousness of what will come next? Or would you instead rather focus on the present moment and take things one step at a time?

What I’ve come to learn is, amidst uncertainty, we can use this time to solidify our vision for ourselves: our goals, what we want to get out of the future.

The following are things I’m going to practice during this time actively and intend to keep up for the future:

  • Focusing on controlling those things that are under my control.
  • Challenging my need for certainty.
  • Learning to better tolerate, even embrace, the inevitable uncertainty of life.
  • Reducing my anxiety and stress levels.

I have devoted my life to uncertainty. Certainty is the death of wisdom, thought, creativity.

Shekhar Kapur

Human spirit is the ability to face the uncertainty of the future with curiosity and optimism. It is the belief that problems can be solved, differences resolved. it is a type of confidence. And it is fragile. It can be blackened by fear and superstition.

Bernard Beckett

I hope this post helped you out in some way or other, if at least to let you know you aren’t alone when it comes to feeling anxious about uncertainty.

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