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The Gifts of Uncertainty, Fear and Brokenness

{ By Chesline Pierre-Paul } 

“We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat” (attributed to Damian Barr). So even as we’re communally touched on a macro-scale by variations of the same devastation, because we’re located in different sociopolitical universes, empowered by different material realities, and at once granted and denied access to different pockets of intersecting privileges, the shape of our uncertainty will differ albeit its feel and integrity will carry the same primal resonance, with a different echo, depth, and dimension.

But for all our systemic differences, we can find ways to find solace and restoration in the midst of temporary devastation. How we do so will differ, yet, how we get there carries some more shareable and actionable elements of universality made practical. Here are a few nuggets of practical wisdom about uncertainty:

  • On uncertainty and clarity: As Liz Gilbert has said, in uncertainty we gain a sobering lucidity, a grounding clarity that disestablishes what’s urgent-passing or urgent-looking from what is immediate, life-sustaining, and primally fulfilling in the now. Basically, when you have to let go of more than what you’d’ve allowed yourself to otherwise, there is this defining clarity that forces out into the ether what you must do to be sustained and fulfilled with and by immediacy only. Everything that isn’t aligned with immediacy in a life-sustaining way gets de-prioritized. That clarity is like a primal impulse that makes necessity something measurable through a binary lens-only: I need this/I don’t need this. This sustains me/This doesn’t sustain me. So one of the first gifts of uncertainty is defining clarity.
  • On uncertainty and radical openness: my friend Tristan once told me, you know when you’re too tired to be untruthful? When you are so empty you can’t be bothered to be anything but raw, unceremonious, emotionally transparent, and undiplomatically candid in how freespoken you are and in how you hold space? This means your rawest emotional truth becomes more continually front-facing. Because whatever energy you have to muster up to stay optimally functional, sustained, and priority-focused can’t be diverted into appealing to appearances, egos, posturing, or validation-seeking. Crisis management makes you more truth-oriented, truth-telling, and at times, even truth-dependent. The crisis breaks you up to disruptively anchor you in your purest emotional truth. That’s the second gift of your own uncertainty; radical openness.  
  • On uncertainty and fear: It is only when you are determinedly fearful that you can be determinedly courageous. Only when you aren’t all the way safe, can you be all the way brave. Fear in uncertainty exposes your limitations warring with hopes, and hopes describe to you who you have to be, to be the pursuer of possibilities disguised as impossibilities. As your rawest emotionally, as your most soberingly lucid, uncertainty opens you up to your greatest capacity for courage yet. My soul sister Lina told me: act on “inspired actions, not desperate actions”. So how to be determinedly fearful and courageous starts with choosing inspired action over desperate action. In your storm. In your chaos. In your unsettling. As you do so, you choose to let the world post-crisis define how you show up in-crisis. You force the crisis not to claim you whole because you are impacted as much by its presence as you are inspired by its temporariness. You don’t downplay its harshness nor the worlds of hurt it contains, you solely choose to engage the opportunities for courage it grants you through the fear it doles out. The third gift of uncertainty is courage.

When you honor all three gifts, you’re well positioned to find what makes you powerful because you operate from clarity, radical openness and emotional bravery. As you do, you allow yourself to be both wobbly and affirmed. Disrupted, yet strengthened. For me the pandemic has been when I’ve launched my coaching practice and created a life, that as Lisa Nichols says, is unrecognizable by the standard of the one that prefaces it.

The choices that led me here today, have been and still are, hard yet clarifying, scary yet freeing, disruptive yet affirming. It’s the first time my commitment to my curiosity, my truth, my rambunctious proclamation of self has been so unrestrained, comprehensive, and deliriously life-giving. I still have bouts of devastation, they just make my moments of uncertainty more clarifying. My disruption has taught me not to strive merely to run but dare fly. And even when you don’t know where you’ll land, you get to fly as you figure it out. One tentative fluttering of wings at a time.

Chesline Pierre-Paul

INSTAGRAM: @cheslinepp 

FACEBOOK: @chespp  

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