Trying to be comfortable with the unknown


Margaret Dougherty, Editor-In-Chief

When I woke up on the morning of Wednesday, Sept. 1, I had no idea that later that night I would be walking barefoot across North Ave through deep floodwater to go drink a root beer, eat an apple and fall asleep in the bleachers of Hynes Arena. In fact, I didn’t even know it was going to rain until just hours before it happened. Similarly, when I arrived at school on Aug. 25, 2019 for my freshman year, I had no idea that before I knew it I would be riding a train out of a hotspot for a deadly pandemic for a “two week” break at home that would last just a little bit longer than two weeks.  

I think we all can agree that the past couple of years have been quite unpredictable. Of course, life itself is unpredictable, but – and maybe I’m alone on this one – I feel it’s gotten a little crazier recently, no? Here’s the thing: I love unpredictability…when it is encased in a hermetically sealed container of predictability. There’s nothing I enjoy more than a twist ending to a book or a cliff hanger at the end of a show, but that isn’t real life. I know that no matter what – even if Rose doesn’t move over to make space for Jack on that door – it will not impact my own life. When it comes to reality, I am terrified of a lack of certainty. 

There are only a few things of which I am certain. Amongst other less notable information, it includes the fact that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell and that the Ryan Library is separated into three floors that get quieter as you go up. On the other hand, there are many things of which I’ll never be certain. For example, I don’t think I will ever understand the purpose of the electoral college, no matter how many times someone explains it to me. I also don’t think I’ll ever understand why Rose didn’t just move over on that stupid door. I’ve accepted that I will not get those answers. So why can’t I accept that I also won’t have all the answers in my own life? Why can’t I pretend that my life is an exciting movie and it’s fun to not know what comes next? 

If you were reading this piece looking for advice, I must apologize. I am perhaps the least qualified individual to offer advice on finding comfort in the unknown (if you are looking for a list of all the potential things that could go wrong in the unknown future, my email is below.) Yet, I feel that finding some degree of peace in the uncertainty of life is a necessary skill that will only grow more important as time goes on (have you heard about this climate change thing?!). So, I identified a potential starting point in this process that offers me some solace, and perhaps it could offer solace to others as well. I may not know what comes next, but neither do you. Your mom, your uncle, your neighbor’s dog’s cousin – they all don’t know. So, in a way, we’re all in this together as we continue on into the unknown.