Years ago things seemed to be so much more certain. You went to school, studied, got good exam results, went to Uny, got a job, married, kids – set for life. I’m not sure if it ever was really like that, but that’s how it appeared. Particularly in terms of jobs – a ‘job for life’ was the phrase people used of the Public Service jobs. We now know of course that is not the case. As I look at my children’s education and future prospects it’s a totally different landscape to even when I left school nearly 30 years ago.
Some things have never been a certainty. The English weather is so unpredictable, whilst certain it will probably rain. Economies rise and fall, political leaders come and go. Country boundaries even shift and change!
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Your marriage surviving or your children growing up to succeed is a constantly fragile thing. The current expectation in the UK is that 42% of marriages will end in divorce. Many people are on their second or third marriage or long-term cohabitation. We all know people, maybe yourself, where the break up of a marriage was a complete shock – one that we thought would never happen.
Children as well are a constant worry – will they be able to make it in the world? Will they be happy? Will they be able to look after themselves and contribute to society? Will they be safe? On and on and on. For those of you with children or young people who’ve already had a difficult start in life you know these uncertainties and worries are more so. It’s difficult enough in life when you have had a solid foundation and know who you are. Those who don’t – it must feel like an uphill struggle.
When I think back over my life experiences, whether in relationships or jobs I can see that being happy played more of a part for me then certainty and security. I’ve always been a bit of a risk taker and as such have made some decisions that have made my life probably more difficult then it could have been. We all believe we are making the best decisions. How we come to those decisions is different and whilst I’ve been pondering this quote – ‘people choose unhappiness over uncertainty’ – I can’t get away from the thought – are they mutually exclusive? Can you not have both?
Can you be happy and have assurance for the future? Can you be certain that the choices you made will make you happy?
I’m totally inspired by people who seem to have had the most horrendous things happen to them but they are happy. They have somehow found meaning, purpose and happiness in their lives whilst from the outside that would seem impossible. Nick Vujicic for example – take a look at his video to see. He is a total inspiration and one who I’m sure struggled with the uncertainties his future would hold.
Why do we choose unhappiness over uncertainty? I know many people who are enduring a terrible job situation because it is relatively secure. Many people who start out in business for themselves do so after being made redundant – they don’t have much choice. I have known this myself in my career, I’ve stayed in jobs that I was unhappy in because it seemed ‘secure’.
Of course I think there are times when we have to persevere and things aren’t happy and can’t be all the time – that’s unrealistic. But life is also too short to spend so much time frightened to step out and be brave. The people who have really made a difference in the world were those who stepped out and took a risk – I’m sure they were frightened about the uncertainty and the unknown but if they hadn’t got over that then things would never change.
When I think about our education system presently alongside this question of unhappiness over uncertainty I get worried for our children. Education seems to want to stifle any chance of happiness but they disguise it as security. What I mean is that we push for young people to get good results so they can get a good career, but times have changed now – we don’t need more people who can follow the crowd we need individuals who will take a risk. We need young people who know their strengths and are confident in who they are so that they can break out of the straight jackets and do something different.
We need those children who are quirky, who have different ideas, who are maybe not great at Maths and English but can use their resourcefulness to get things done. Until they feel confident in themselves and can be individuals they won’t be able to succeed in life. I want happiness and certainty for them but I know certainty is uncertain. Happiness isn’t. You can find happiness even in the most uncertain places.
So can you have both? As a Christian I believe you can. I know that when you can trust in a higher power to make things right in some way then it’s possible. I know that for my children too. As they grow and develop and understand that whatever their past has been it does not determine their future – then they can be happy and trust that things will work out. The areas I may have wished I’d made a different decision on, I know they will work out. I know as I trust God, and as I work to make the best of situations, then I can be happy and certain too.