More To That

The allergy to uncertainty 😷

Published 5 months ago • 3 min read

Hey friends,

We all know that uncertainty is the only certainty in life, yet we go to great lengths to deny it. We create forecasts to build fiscal confidence, set up routines to hit anticipated goals, and desire career paths to envision a workplace identity. All this in the name of a reliable future.

But what if instead of fighting uncertainty, we learn to cultivate a healthy relationship with it? What if instead of denying the inevitable, we learn to reposition the lens we use to view it?

These are the questions I touch in today’s new story. I start with a memory of an authority figure laughing at me for asking an “uncertain” question, and how this made me realize that we are conditioned to desire rigidity. So much of what people want from us is predictability, but the paradox is that the most beautiful things in life are almost always serendipitous in nature.

This tension is what I want to take a few moments to explore. So when you’re ready, let’s dive right in:

The Allergy to Uncertainty

An Illustrated Insight

I enjoyed drawing the above illustration for today’s post, particularly because it reminded me of the nostalgia that emerges when you reflect on the past.

As I write in the piece:

“Given that the future is never certain, it’s important that we embrace that fact instead of fighting it. So much of what we desire is rooted in stability and predictability, but the real fruits of life come from an acceptance of that which we didn’t anticipate. Nostalgia is a longing for the events that once gave you delight, and delight is generally birthed through the introduction of surprise.”

A Thought I’ve Been Pondering

As we enter the holiday season, there will be lots of hangouts ahead, which means that alcohol will likely be in or around you. I’ve reflected on why alcohol is such a prominent feature of social gatherings, and here’s what emerged:

Whenever we interact with someone, a gap emerges between who you are, and who you are presenting. This is why the person you are with your boss isn’t the same as the person on the couch watching Netflix. Or why the person you are with your best friend isn’t the same as the person you are with an acquaintance. Each relationship contains a culture of behavior that you oscillate between, which means that you’re constantly presenting a different version of yourself across a wide range of interactions.

What this means is that it becomes increasingly difficult to know who you really are. If a certain version of you emerges with this individual, but in the very next moment you toggle another set of behaviors with another, then that means your very identity is switching upon context. And the more you have to maneuver between various projections of yourself, the more difficult it becomes to get a handle on what “yourself” means in the first place.

This is why you’re likely exhausted after large social gatherings, and yearn to turn on the TV and watch something brainless until you drift off to sleep. The fatigue is not caused by the rigor in which your mouth is moving to talk, but rather by the constant switching of identity that occurs in these situations. It’s no surprise that alcohol is a feature of these gatherings, given that it helps to merge your identity into one unit for the duration of the night. Confidence is nothing more than the assertion that you know yourself, and alcohol helps do this at the expense of clarity.

A Brief Parting Question

What’s one uncertainty that you’re grappling with? How can you reframe it to serve you, and not to scare you?

As always, hit reply to share any thoughts, to respond to the parting question, or to simply say hello. I love hearing from you.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to share this email with anyone who might enjoy it. Have a great rest of your week!

-Lawrence Yeo

P.S. Thanks to all the wonderful people that support the blog on Patreon! It means so much. If you’d like to support More To That and get access to exclusive AMAs, offline posts, and other reflections, join as a patron today.

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More To That

by Lawrence Yeo

Illustrated stories on the human condition.

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