INSPIRATION

Fall in Love with the Unknown

Do you know what’s next? Me neither.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I do a lot of things, and that the line between my work life and my life life is very blurry, and often non-existent. I turned my passion into my career and I can’t remember the last time I took an easy way out. I’m a writer, photographer, trip leader, speaker and coach. Many hats is an understatement, and I choose to wear them all. Every day.

I used to run from uncertainty. I used to make the safest choices, especially when it came to my career. I took an office job because I thought it was what I was supposed to do. I listened to “should,” I listened to expectation; I listened to stories that were not my own. And in doing that, I ran from myself. I ran from my truth.

I tripped and fell face first into the unknown when I got fired from that job. It was the first in a series– the first of many back-flops from the high dive.

How can I possibly express just how much I have come to love the unknown? Just how much it has become me, just how much I use it as my baseline, as my compass for knowing where to go next? I know it by heart. And I’ll learn from each mistake. When you view failure as just another teacher of the most intentional kind, true failure is impossible.

The unknown says: Jump. Let’s see what you are capable of. You will never know what surprising things are buried under your safe foundation until you start to dig.

The unknown doesn’t say don’t plan. It doesn’t say leave everything to chance. It says: intentionally step out into me, be hyperaware of what works, and set your intention to learning as much as possible. Leave room for me. Let me be your guide.

The unknown invites us to jump, but we have to take the invitation. Please, please jump. It doesn’t have to be accidental. You can choose courage. Sit in it, play in it. The unknown will offer you a series of moments when you just have to figure it out. It doesn’t promise you fulfillment, prosperity or security. It only promises itself. But whatever you uncover is infinite, and up to you.

There is little that I know for sure, but I know that I prefer passion over stability any day of the week. We only grow when we are stretched, and we stretch by getting uncomfortable. Sometimes we don’t really see the purpose in it until we get to the other side. Or until we have to jump again.

Do not discredit the voice inside you asking you to take a risk, or to pursue something unfamiliar, or to revisit a passion that time may have faded or turned into background noise. Put it front and center. Step into your lane and sprint toward it.

When we are OK with not knowing, we are receptive to all options. We are open. We don’t discredit the possibilities, or label them as wrong, or push them to the side.

None of this will ever promise you comfort. None of it will promise you safety. But what would happen if you fell completely in love with not knowing? What if you learned to adore the unknown? What if you made it your confidant– the friendly ghost walking beside you? Know that it’ll smile anytime you stumble.

Accept the invitation and see what the unknown has for you.

 


 

Feature photo by Ali V.

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12 Comments

  • Reply
    Kuleigh
    April 3, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    Yes! I’m a huge planner but travel is one of the things that has really helped me fall in love with the unknown. You can still plan some (where you’re going, how you’re going to get there) but sometimes things still don’t work out exactly right. It’s also just fun to stumble upon places instead of knowing exactly what meal you’re going to order in a specific restaurant at 6 p.m. on the dot!

    • Erin Sullivan
      Reply
      Erin Sullivan
      April 23, 2017 at 9:19 am

      Completely agree Kuleigh! I definitely had to learn this lesson the hard way. Over-planning and stressing myself out. Things are better when you allow room for change!

  • Reply
    Sabine
    April 3, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    The unknown can be such a peculiar thing. Just made a huge leap into the unknown myself and quit my job without having anything else lined up. I was even on the trajectory upward, but after over a year of struggling with the thought that this was not the right way to go, I decided to jump. It’s interesting to me, how from an outside perspective, I should probably be completely freaked out and call myself insane for having done this. But strangely enough on the inside, I just follow my instinct that it will play out alright, even if I have no clue what that means yet.

    • Erin Sullivan
      Reply
      Erin Sullivan
      April 23, 2017 at 9:20 am

      Sabine, huge congratulations on the risk you have taken. It’s straight up scary to do what you have done– most people will ask “what if?” instead of seeing for themselves. You are completely right to trust yourself. The voice that tells us to jump is the same one that will help us build the plane on the way down, and the same one that will help us to see the lessons in any failures we might encounter along the way. Well done. xo

  • Reply
    Michael
    April 3, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    E, unknown, you toss it down like a gauntlet. I think you have been there many times in your life. I sense that you know your way around it. “Passion over stability” Only the bold can go there. I wonder if you realize how you connect, how important your words are, how you shine light in some dark places. Folks are guided by positive thought, moved to survive and thrive. You never cease to amaze. Thank you, Michael

    • Erin Sullivan
      Reply
      Erin Sullivan
      April 23, 2017 at 9:23 am

      Tossing it down like a gauntlet – what a compliment!! Thanks so much.

  • Reply
    Jessie Squires
    April 6, 2017 at 8:24 am

    As a planner I also struggle with uncertainty. However, when I have pushed myself outside of my comfort zone in the past, into the unknown, that is when I have been most surprised by life. There is so much out in the world to uncover and if you come into new experiences without expectations and with an open mind, the possibilities are endless. Wonderfully written insight as always!

    • Erin Sullivan
      Reply
      Erin Sullivan
      April 23, 2017 at 9:24 am

      Love that Jessie – the unknown is a hugely underrated teacher!

  • Reply
    Diana
    April 6, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    I so needed to read this right now! I feel so torn between choosing between my passion and something stable, something my parents would want for me. I’m going to go for what I truly want to do and take that chance or else I know I’d regret it for the rest of my life. I’m sure you’re so thankful you did get fired that day, it changed the entire course of your life into something so much more inspirational! Thank you for the post Erin, it was a great read xx

    http://mylovelierdays.com

    • Erin Sullivan
      Reply
      Erin Sullivan
      April 23, 2017 at 9:25 am

      Good for you Diana! That risk deserves to be taken. And the worst case scenario? Probably just the stable option, right? Never let your intuition haunt you when you have a chance to see what it’s getting at. All my love. xo

  • Reply
    Sheema
    April 17, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    I think 90% of my friends struggle with this–we tend to live in repressed environments where we think there is a “right” thing to do. But really, finding the unknown is one of the right-est paths you can take.

    • Erin Sullivan
      Reply
      Erin Sullivan
      April 23, 2017 at 9:28 am

      It makes no sense when we really stop to think about it– why do we believe there is one way to do something? That idea has such a shaky and unrealistic foundation. You are so right! Thanks Sheema. xo

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