Written by QCMHA Marketing Director Maddie Poutissou
Why do we like control? Maybe it's because it gives us a sense of well-being, makes us believe that we aren't under the control of others or even provides us with more certainty that we will achieve our desired outcomes. I have always liked to plan, organize and ultimately have control over most elements of my life. However, when the pandemic hit at the end of my first year of university, I was faced with the largest sense of uncertainty I had ever felt in my life. Much like the rest of the world, I was left not knowing what was next, and I felt like I had no control over many of the outcomes in my life. I remember waiting at home to see if the government who allow me to go to sleepover camp, a place that, with certainty, I had always gone to every summer. I remember wondering when I could see my friends who, with certainty, I could count on to help me through bad days. And I remember waiting for the outcome of whether I would be returning to campus in the fall, a place that I with certainty thought would be spending all four years of my university experience at.
With the blink of an eye, it felt like everything in the world and my life was uncertain, which was hard to deal with all at once. At this point, being someone who loved certainty, I felt like I was at a roadblock. Where was my life going next? What was my plan? How can I have a plan when no one in the world has a plan? I felt very helpless.
However, the summer after the beginning of the pandemic, my perspective on uncertainty changed as I started to enjoy not always having "a plan" and became motivated to make the most of each day. That summer, I was able to spend time with my high school friends who I would have otherwise not seen as we now attend schools in different provinces, I was able to explore different areas of Ontario that I would have never thought to see otherwise, and I got a chance to reflect on where I wanted to go from here. By the end of the summer, I started to feel relaxed with having uncertainty in my life and even felt like I had more control over my happiness than I ever had as I gave myself a break and did things for myself each day. Since then, learning to accept and appreciate uncertainty has allowed me to have a more open perspective when faced with new experiences and challenges, allowing me not to fear but embrace unknowns. Through this change in perspective, I now recognize it is important to balance certainty and uncertainty by controlling what I can and not stressing over what I cannot, a lesson I now take forward with myself each day.