I had an epiphany the other day, perhaps the most significant one I’ve had in a long time.
Prior to this epiphany, there was an underlying problem: I didn’t understand why I felt a quiet, but constant, dissatisfaction with life. I have (enough) money, good health, a variety of friends, a strong desire for self-improvement, and an entrepreneur’s grit.
Yet, in spite of my good fortune, I felt lost and unproductive.
It finally occurred to me that my ambition was suffocating me.
For more than a year, the “philosophy of uncertainty” was a central point of inspiration for me.
The problem was that I associated uncertainty with wander, not explorative wander, but wander with the expectation of finding my true passion. In other words, I was hoping to stumble upon my destiny or meaning. Uncertainty had become my foundation. Seeing the world as ripe with potential, my thoughts and aspirations waded from one thing to the next, each supplying me with joy upon arrival and frustration upon departure.
My epiphany has taught me the true meaning of uncertainty, but I must discuss commitment first.
I felt lost because I was lost.
I was mentally jumping from one grand idea to the next, each time thinking, “This idea will finally fulfill me.” Alas, nothing had really enthralled me, but it wasn’t because of the quality of the ideas. Rather, the problem had been my lack of commitment. There are very few things that I’ve truly committed myself to accomplishing, and I suspect this is common among aspiring entrepreneurs. We often want the title “entrepreneur” so badly that we forget to focus on the most important quality of an entrepreneur: commitment.
There are two main theories when it comes to discovering a passion: you either instinctively know what your passion is, or you discover a passion by becoming an expert in something. Personally, my inherent passions are broad and theoretical- they are best pursued as hobbies, for now. On the other hand, I know well what I am becoming an expert in. In this regard, there is no uncertainty, there must only be commitment. I struggled with this realization for a long time because I wanted to be good at so many different things.
I didn’t want to feel confined to one subject matter. This desire, however, led me astray.
You have to be comfortable with viewing yourself as only a small part of a much bigger vision. Otherwise, you will strain to do everything, burn yourself out, and, ultimately, feel lost.
Uncertainty is important, but what it really boils down to is a reduction in the amount of control you feel you need to possess. In other words, if you concentrate on your expertise and the various other things that are crucially important to you (your core values), everything else will come together. Embracing uncertainty allows you to relinquish your fears and concentrate on what’s important. I made the mistake of looking at it as something to search for, which was a futile mistake, but it ended up being a good lesson.
Even though this article is mostly philosophical in nature, there is one solid point you should take away: it’s okay if your dream is dauntingly big as long as you’re willing to commit to it, leverage your expertise to achieve it, allow others to help you with it, and accept the uncertainty that inevitably surrounds it.
Jerad Maplethorpe is a self-taught web developer, aspiring entrepreneur, recreational philosopher and one to embrace the unexpected. Jerad believes in building technologies that bring like-minded people together in person. You can follow Jerad on twitter @maplethorpej.