Dealing with Uncertainty

2020 has been a crazy year. The state of the world, much less our lives, changed drastically from month to month. It’s been near impossible to make lasting plans, or coordinate events for any point in the future. For someone as "Type A" as I am, this uncertainty has made it difficult to process what’s happening and how to continue setting goals for the future.

I started by working to accept that most of my plans were now out of my control; I wasn’t going to have a typical high school graduation ceremony or party. My summer hopes to travel with friends and spend time abroad were quickly cancelled. I could no longer expect to be on campus or compete with my teammates. I was frustrated and upset, as anyone would be. However, once I had processed those feelings and comprehended that I couldn’t change the situation, I was able to move on. Fully understanding that this is the reality, and there is legitimately nothing I can do about it, helped me find peace with the current situation.

Finding what I still had a say over in my own life helped me regain a sense of control. Maybe I couldn’t decide whether or not I’d be on campus this term, but I could decide what classes I was taking! I couldn’t train or compete with my own teammates, but I could take a training opportunity elsewhere. Finding where my plans could flex, but didn’t need to completely change, seemed to help me the most. I had expectations of what I’d be doing, and I was still able to meet those expectations; the way I met them just looked a bit different. As an example, I knew I wanted to be involved in a few clubs on campus, to explore my interests, and to meet new people. So, although I couldn’t attend a club fair or go through the typical interview process, I looked into and applied for different clubs at Columbia. Her Campus was one of them! Getting involved with different student organizations on campus really helped create a sense of community and let me get to know more of my classmates, even if it was over Zoom.

Staying connected to other people — whether that was my old teammates, high school friends, family connections, or other Columbia students I’d met over Zoom — provided comfort. Everyone was dealing with the same uncertainty and doubt I was feeling; none of us were alone. By chatting with each other, we were able to swap coping strategies and share our different perspectives. Recognizing our privilege was another big step; even though these weren’t ideal circumstances, we could still spend our time studying and learning about topics we’re interested in.

In addition to connecting with people my age, I started spending more time with my parents. Taking the time to slow down and appreciate where I am, as well as who I’m with, has given this whole situation a feeling of calm. I’ve loved every second since I returned home; something as simple as going on a walk with my mother and admiring the turning leaves is a wonderful way to spend time with her. Cooking dinner with my father, then enjoying it with the rest of the family, creates a similar atmosphere of peace and contentment.

Looking to the future, I’m aware I need to move a bit slower and be flexible in my planning. I’m still going to be focusing on what I can control, rather than what I cannot, but I feel much better equipped to continue dealing with the uncertain and often tumultuous state of the world right now.