How to Carry the Weight of the Unknown
Updated: Nov 12
Let’s face it, we’re used to knowing things.
We’re accustomed to gaining knowledge, data, or answers in a matter of minutes, if not seconds.
· Wondering if you should read that book? Check the reviews on Amazon.
· Need to make a decision at work? Check the data in Power BI or Google Analytics.
· Not sure the meaning of a word or acronym? Google to the rescue.
There aren’t a lot of times that things are truly unknown to us. Sure, maybe for a short time they are unknown, but really, we’ve been able to learn or predict so much of our lives.
The New Weight We Carry
As I’ve been reflecting on conversations I’ve had over the past few weeks, I’m sensing that people are carrying an invisible weight. A weight that is getting heavier by the day. A weight we’ve not carried quite like this before. A weight that ebbs and flows, that takes different forms. It’s the weight of the unknown.
Let’s peek inside those conversations to see how this weight shows up.
No One to Decompress With
One friend shared the difficulty of not working face to face with people, especially on the hard days at work. While acknowledging that, as an introvert, it isn’t all that bad to spend most of her time at home working alone, my friend shared about how she misses the spontaneous conversations, specifically the decompressing conversations that happen after trying to serve a difficult client.
The day we talked was one of those days; she was feeling the weight of a client’s situation. As she processed the experience, she realized it’s getting harder to sit alone at home with all her feelings. An unknown that weighs on her mind: How will I be able to cope with the weight alone?
Monotony Takes Over
Over the phone I had a conversation with a friend who described how this year felt to her and her family. She talked about changes in her job, activities her family did to cope, and a season where she didn’t even want to do the things that typically interest her. She acknowledged that the sadness, worry, and monotony were taking a toll. She felt like she was fighting a low-grade depressive state. She’s feeling the weight of, “How long can I live like this?”
The Emotional Rollercoaster
And then there was my conversation with someone looking for a job, while doing her current job. She had a great interview for a job she knew she could do; a job that was totally in her wheelhouse. She could easily picture herself doing the job. She and her husband were talking about moving to live closer to it. She was filled with hope.
Then the rejection letter arrived.
As she told me about it, she exclaimed, “I don’t even want to get excited anymore!” You see, this wasn’t the first job interview she’s had over the past several months.
She’s definitely experiencing the emotional rollercoaster of job hunting.
She’s burdened with questions like: When will I find a new job? How long will it take? How long can I keep doing my current job? Will I find a job with the same pay? So many questions. So many unknowns.
And lastly, I’ve been reflecting on two friends who’ve lost spouses this year. One to a tragic accident and one to Covid. How do you cope when you suddenly lose a loved one? Someone who you talked with every day. Someone you did life with. Dreamed with. Once you get through the funeral, the thank yous, and the myriad of paperwork, you’re left with an empty house. With no one to share breakfast with.
When I think of these friends, their lives have become clouded with the question: How will I live without him?
How do we cope with so many “unknowns”?
I’m quite sure I don’t have all the answers, but hopefully one of these will be just what you need to hear today as you face your own unknowns.
Feel your Feelings
Perhaps one of the blessings of this year is that some of us are getting in tune with our feelings more than ever before. Maybe it’s because we are slowing down. Maybe it’s because we are having more of them. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid of them. Feelings are cues. They provide insights into ourselves. Describe them, name them, talk about them, or write about them. Whatever you do, don’t ignore them. Let them teach you about what’s important to you.
Go Through not Over
Earlier this year I noticed a social media post from an acquaintance who lost her teenage daughter over 15 years ago. On the anniversary of her daughter’s death she wrote about how hard it still was. In the years of grieving she wanted to encourage others by sharing her realization that “We don’t get over it, we get through it.” Definitely a good word for this year – we may not get over it, but we can get through it. How will we get through it? One day at a time (and on the tough days, one hour or minute at a time.)
Plan then Flex
Another friend reflected on this year saying that she’s finally learned to be flexible. She’s a typical Type A – planner, organizer, anticipator. She’s already planning for summer 2021 and spring 2022. This year she’s learned that she can plan and flex at the same time. She can keep planning for the future and then if things need to be adjusted (which isn’t all the time) she can flex. What a huge “Ah Ha”! What a huge blessing to her mind and spirit.
As a Christian, these are times I turn to some of my favorite verses:
· “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your path straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
· “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
· “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
It’s true, we won’t be the same after 2020. Hopefully we’ll be better, stronger, smarter.
Whatever your “unknowns” are, I pray that you step towards them, that you find the courage to allow them to help you learn more about yourself and what really matters to you.
What are you seeing others do to cope with the unknowns of 2020? Post it in the comments.
P.S. After writing this, I realized there are insights from some of my previous blogs that might help you survive this year of unknowns.