“I’m not good with this waiting business.”
“What if I don’t get in?”
“I just want to know.”
“When will I find out?”
“Why does it have to take so long?”
The above is a sampling of text messages I received from both students and parents over the past eight weeks. Applications to college are out the door, and we now wade through the dark, often angst-ridden middle, what some may consider the most difficult, and perhaps the most nerve-wracking, part. During the waiting, Uncertainty and his stronger older brother, Doubt, are the often unwanted interlopers, sliding into the empty chair next to you at the dinner table, whispering in your ear as you drive to the gym, and making you feel a little jumpy when drying your hair. These troublemakers wait patiently behind doors and leap out, poking you, their goal to get a rise.
Brene Brown explains in her book Rising Strong, “whatever that middle space is for your own process, is when you’re ‘in the dark’—the door has closed behind you. You’re too far in to turn around and not close enough to the end to see the light.”
You may be in the agonizing middle. The frenzy of college visits, test taking, resume editing, essay reviewing, list revising, sweatshirt purchasing; it is all done. And now you are in the dark, uncertain and waiting. The middle space.
You’ve got two choices.
- Avoid those rascals at all costs: Get busy with doing schoolwork, going to work-work, exercising, shopping, talking with family, texting friends. Post 94 photos daily on Instagram, practice tennis serves, up your number of mastered yo-yo moves, aim for the next level in League of Legends, listen to incredibly loud Zeal & Ardor to drown out the incessant incantations. (P.S. This is a temporary fix. P.P.S. It doesn’t last as long as you think.)
- Let’s talk: Here’s the thing, Doubt and Uncertainty are tenacious; there is nowhere you can run and nowhere you can hide. They know precisely where you are at all times. And, as uncomfortable as those emotions can be, they always bring along the gift of self-discovery.
As with all struggles in the dance of uncomfortableness, there is an underlying opportunity; it’s an invitation, if you will, to get to know that which makes you question your worthiness, doubt your capabilities, and let your fears wrestle the wheel from your better self.
Here’s the thing: There is no other way to get the wheel back and head down a smoother road than to get to know those sibs Uncertainty and Doubt. Take a deep breath, and accept the invitation with courage. Because guess what? There’s no escaping the middle. Ever. And, Doubt and Uncertainty are begging you to show them the door. They didn’t really want to sit still for that long anyhow.
Brown, Brene. “Civilization Stops at the Waterline.” Rising Strong. 26-27. Print.