Lessons on letting go of control and accepting uncertainty
I was always amazed by the metaphor of life as a cycle of constant change. I questioned people’s striving towards achieving neverending goals - how could it make sense if life was just a fleeting moment, designed to eventually pass? Having lived in three countries, still in my early twenties, I realized I have experienced numerous deaths of my old self and rebirths of someone, who possesses new qualities. With each time, my obsessive need for control started to shutter into pieces. I was left with questions about my identity and lack of certainty in life.
As a young woman, I started with the easiest way of controlling myself. Somewhere around my early teens, I began obsessing over food. Restriction functioned as a drug that kept me going. Seeing instant results and feeling like I control my body gave me a sense of pride. With time, food was replaced by educational goals. I got hooked on the glorified concept of being busy and lived my days according to a tight schedule. I didn’t let myself be spontaneous - it wasn’t part of the plan. Everything was beautifully written in my calendar, as if it could never change. I didn’t cope well with change and couldn’t adapt to sudden cancellations. My schedule was a driving force of my success. Only a meticulous plan could protect me from failure.
Although schedules can serve us, they can also destroy any little joy derived from everyday surprises. Those unpredictable events that form lifelong memories. I realized it when I started hearing my intuition better. It was buried somewhere deep down, whispering to my ear that a certain decision is against my values or that it’s designed to please someone else. If only I would listen. Now that I let it speak loudly, I find myself often doubting whether my decisions are truly mine. I try to follow that abstract gut feeling, but I fall victim to people’s opinions - especially those that are close to me. Even though I lack any certainty, I choose to surrender. Surrender to the idea of accepting life as it goes. Having a rough sense of direction but allowing the journey to take its turn. It is a constant battle, let me tell you. It’s not a state of mind, where you’re confident about your intuition and you lose that need for control. It’s more like a scared animal that you have to be gentle with. If you come too close, it will either attack you or run away. If you remain calm and observant, it will become accustomed to your presence and stop being a threat. The more you fight it, the faster it runs away.
The obsessive control manifests itself whenever I meet someone who radiates with freedom. Freedom to pursue whatever they fancy, freedom to travel without a plan, freedom to love without defining it, freedom to be reckless and irresponsible. I admire that freedom, yet find it difficult to grasp. How do they manage to float, like a wave in the ocean? Aren’t they scared that with no plan, they can find themselves regretting that they didn’t accomplish anything? Is settling down really such a dreadful thing to strive for? I still haven’t found answers to those pressing questions, yet intuitively I sense that there must be an in-between solution to that dilemma. I guess, as complex as human beings are, we are not meant to be either sacrificing relationships for the sake of self-growth or not growing at all in order to build a family. There must be a scenario, where one is never fully satisfied with just one or another. A small intersection of two human needs - that of growth and that of connection.
I realize that some people may be fulfilled by choosing a lifestyle that’s more stable and predictable. Based on clear values and tangible needs. However, as someone who tends to constantly search for meaning, I find myself often dissatisfied with how life unfolds. Always hungry for more, looking out for ways of challenging present reality. Even though I oppose the idea of romanticizing the stressful and busy lifestyle that we’re experiencing nowadays, I acknowledge some commonalities with my own way of thinking. I also feel the need to constantly question and evolve. I also cannot get fully satisfied, even though most of the time I fulfill my goals. The question arises - is it truly valuable to be always striving for more or is it a sign of our inability to make peace with the present?
Perhaps it is the right thing to do, simply accepting what’s in your way without seeing it coming. Letting go of that obsessive need for control in order to make space for the uncertainty of life. After all, whenever I look back and delve into memories of some of the hardest decisions in my life, I realize that none of them was ever wrong. And even if they led me somewhere, where I didn’t want to be, I simply redirected my route elsewhere. This way they showed me where to invest my energy and where it is unnecessarily drained. Does it mean that one can never make a wrong decision? Well, I dare to agree. If a decision is treated as a lesson, it can never be a wasteful one. By following the directions without trying to fully understand everything, we open ourselves up to surprise. And that’s truly what makes life meaningful - all those sleepless nights spent watching the sunset and kissing someone who at first didn’t fit into our idea of who we want to date, accidental friendships that lasted for years, failed choices of degrees that allowed us to explore life abroad, random ingredients that made our dish taste like heaven. Those memories make up our identities and determine our life story. What would yours be if every step of the way was according to a fixed plan? After all, it’s about holding on to what’s valuable and meaningful, things or people that are truly serving us. But also letting go of what is making us imprisoned to our own minds. By choosing to surrender, we open ourselves up to being more intuitive. And listening to your intuition is just a small step from leading a conscious and fulfilling life.