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Updated on: Thursday, October 14, 2021, 10:10 PM IST

The Millennial Pilgrim: Five ways to remain sane in face of uncertainty

The uncertainty that comes with a new situation doesn't always have to be dreadful. There is much pleasure and self-awareness to be drawn from the uncomfortable circumstances. After all, discomfort is any day better than discontentment
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As I am writing this column, I am sitting in a café in a newly urbanised area on the outskirts of Pune. The strangeness of spaces in transition — that is becoming increasingly urban is that on the outside they look sleek but from the inside, they are still very much villages.

You enter a ‘subway’ franchise thinking it could be your work station for the day only to figure out that there is no electricity. You weather these small hiccups and manage to find a quiet little space. After much labour, I am lucky to find a plug point to charge my dying phone. Finally, all set to write this week’s column. But is it ever easy to know what you want to write about, what you have been feeling, and how you are doing in general when life is in transition?

My current state is very much like that of an urban village. Surefooted on the outside, absolutely rustic and unsure of the changes inside. A new job, a new place and a new profile — the delirium of mid-crisis has come to me in a very different form. Existential dread has occurred to me far too many times to take them seriously any longer.

The dark night of the soul has come and left me before the first ray of sun hit my room. But this — not knowing what one is feeling is a strange kind of problem. You are scared but not scared enough to give up; you are brave, but not brave enough to throw caution to the wind and go the full distance to do what you have set out to do. This uncertainty can be maddening, and one needs to have at least some tools in hand to overcome this phase of newness and chaos.

Here are a few tried and tested ways in how I am dealing with my current reality.

1. Find familiar places: When you are in a new city, you certainly want to explore as much as you can. However, finding a few familiar places where we hang out after work hours is a great way to feel at home in a new place. Your first friends are certainly going to be waiters of the eateries where you sit for hours with your laptop and staring at your phone without any company.

2. Go shopping, buy a new perfume: New clothes for a new city. Find a new look, a new haircut, a different way of feeling and being to get away from the sense of alienation that a new place brings.

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3. Find friends, younger and older: It might be difficult finding the right kind of friends in your age group immediately after shifting to a new place. If you are in your thirties, chances are you wouldn't live in a girl's PG but look for an apartment all for yourself. Also, when you are in a leadership position, your chances of finding the right colleague friend are almost negligible. So don't be too picky. Strike a chord with someone young in your team, or spend some time with your older landlady. There is much wisdom and fun to be experienced with friends of different age groups.

4. Trust people, sometimes even blindly: Yes, this might sound counter-intuitive, but it works every single time for me. When in a new place, I have simply gone ahead and trusted people with my feelings, with information, with more than I needed to reveal. And, it has almost always worked out.

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5. Go back to being a child: This transition phase, from not knowing to knowing is enjoyable in many ways. You are in the arena, not for the first time. But this is a new arena. The innocence of the first time returns. You are all over again a child, a newbie, and you rely on others to show you the path. Just going around and asking for help, feeling helpless, observing, and being okay with taking instructions from others for a while help you become confident with each passing day.

So, go ahead and do new things with your life. It is scary but equally rewarding. We don't need to be brave all the time, when we are faced with uncertainty. But being observant and inquisitive certainly helps. We owe it to ourselves to give us a chance to start afresh in a new city, in a job, be in love with a new person, or go out and study a completely new subject. We do new things not because we are courageous but because the old ways of being and doing things don't serve us any longer and we want to explore our potential. Certainly, there will be discomfort to begin with, and it may continue for a long time to come. But discomfort is any day better than discontentment.

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Published on: Sunday, October 17, 2021, 07:00 AM IST
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