Embracing Uncertainty

I’m grappling with a lot of questions about my life right now—questions about my career choices, my creative goals, and where I want to settle down. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, but I’ve been living in Chicago since I graduated from college. While I miss my family and my hometown, I’ve also found a home in this windy city. I’ve developed a community for myself here, and I’ve found love.

As I’ve been working toward a new career direction, I’ve come to the realization that my best chance to pursue my ideal job lies back in New York. My partner, M., and I have extensively discussed the possibility of my moving, and while he has been extremely understanding and supportive, at the moment he would not be willing to follow me to the East Coast. And so there is a lot that is up in the air, and I am filled with anxiety about my future and our future.

I am already a naturally anxious person. Uncertainty only feeds my tendency to worry, and if I worry long enough, I succumb to “analysis paralysis,” becoming frozen thinking about all of the possibilities. And after M. and I had our first conversation about my career and my desire to move, I felt paralyzed. I knew I needed to start my search for a new job and keep working towards my personal goals, but I worried about the potential consequences. I lost any forward momentum I once had and fell into a state of depression. This state persisted for months. I’ve struggled with depression before, but I thought I was past the point where it would hit me with such magnitude. I was also accustomed to dealing with my depression in solitude and didn’t know how to positively open up to M. about my emotional struggle. Our relationship suffered for this.

Slowly, over this period, I realized that I could not continue existing in this way. Although M. would grow frustrated with me (and I with him), he continued to remain by my side and lend his support. I realized that my constant state of depression and anxiety was making our time together less than enjoyable, and that if I didn’t continue trying to move forward, eventually I would lose what I already have. And so I decided to embrace the uncertainty of my circumstances.

At the moment, I continue to search for a new job, with most of my best options still being in New York. I have less than two months left on my current lease, without a new lease lined up. There is a strong likelihood that I will be remaining in my current job (and in Chicago) longer than I had anticipated. M. and I still don’t know what our relationship will look like six months from now. If I had been in this situation a year ago, I would have been filled with paralyzing panic. But in my current state, I am determined to keep trying for my ideal future and enjoy myself along the way. There are still moments when I start to feel overcome with worry. I’m certainly still afraid of losing my relationship and failing in my personal endeavors. But I don’t want to be consumed by my anxiety. I have to trust that I can handle whatever will come.

*

M. and I recently celebrated our two year anniversary, a milestone in our relationship and in our individual romantic histories. In the weeks leading up to the date, I wasn’t sure how heavily I wanted to celebrate given our murky future together. Ultimately, we decided to mark the occasion in several ways, and I’m glad we did.

Funnily enough, our anniversary festivities ended up stretched out over several weeks. We had to postpone the drinks portion of our celebration until this past weekend after M. fell sick on the day of our anniversary dinner (which was in May) and I spent the next week in New York for my brother’s college graduation. So on Saturday night we went to the Whistler, one of our favorite bars in Logan Square, and sat side-by-side with our drinks while people-watching and reminiscing about past visits to bars in the area. I let my mind relax and felt no depression or anxiety, just pure joy at being with the one I love. We followed the drinks with some frenetic dancing to polka and klezmer music in nearby Cole’s. At the end of the night I was sweaty and tired, and happy.

Cheers to embracing uncertainty.

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— S. (a.k.a. AMisplacedPen)

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