“Uncertain” Is The Buzzword Of 2020 — And I’m Embracing It

uncertain buzzword

On October 10, 2020, I threw a housewarming party for my new apartment in Brooklyn, New York. I’m no stranger to these little events since I’ve moved quite often in the past decade, and since we’re all uncertain about the future, I thought it could bring some positive vibes.

However, this year, things were a little different: I questioned whether I should have the party in the first place. My apartment is fortunate enough to feature a private, outdoor courtyard, so I started to put together a list of guests. But then I realized I had to determine how many guests I could invite based on how well they could comfortably social distance and also not exceed the official number of guests based on government mandates.

Things got a little trickier. I wondered if I should ask guests to provide a Covid-19 negative test, or ask them to get one prior to arrival. What should I say if they declined? What would happen if one of them got Covid-19 at my event? Should I ask them to bring masks just in case? Wear them during the housewarming? Should I even have it at all?

I was uncertain about particulars that would have never crossed my mind last year (especially: Can I post the housewarming photos on social media? Will people freak out?). I eventually had the housewarming with 10 guests spaced out, and it was a success (two weeks later, everyone is fine), but the process that went into the details was exhausting. It’s a feeling I’ve had since March. I’m exhausted, but to be more specific, I’m exhausted about being uncertain—especially about the future.

Cops East Village Lockdown NYC

Uncertainty has crossed my mind on a daily basis, just as it has for likely most Americans. Uncertainty, for now is our future. With the Presidential election, we’re uncertain. With Covid-19, we’re uncertain. With the economy, with a vaccine, with the state of travel, with seeing friends and family, with going to restaurants, with unemployment, with 2021 — we’re all uncertain.

There’s a sense of relief once you pass a moment of uncertainty (let’s say, like how you feel on a first date or interviewing for a job), yet we’ve been holding our breath for nearly 9 months now. Eventually, we’ll get to the point we can breathe, but we’re uncertain about that moment, too, which makes uncertainty super meta for these extraordinary times, especially when we’ve never been this uncertain about the future.

Travel better 2020

Uncertain is clearly the buzzword for 2020. There’s no other word I read in the paper or see online or hear in a news program. In fact, Covid-19 didn’t bring fear, like many friends I talk to assume. It brought uncertainty about the future, which triggered the fear. Uncertainty made people have panic attacks, or lash out on social media or start race wars.

It wasn’t Covid-19 that quarantined us in lockdown. It was uncertainty of risk factor, of being judged for not wearing a mask, judging others for not wearing masks, not knowing whether you would be able to get through a walk to the corner store without contracting a virus—and the fear that stems from it.

Delta Air Lines.

I think that, during Covid-19, people have a tendency to assume fear is what’s changing us to behave and react the way we do, but those are just triggers from the fact we have absolutely no idea how things will pan out.

And we still won’t for quite some time.

But there’s a way to fix that uncertainty about the future. It’s putting that energy into yourself. We can’t worry about every little thing that’s happening around the world. We have to take care of ourselves first.

I have always told my friends and family, mental health is the most important thing in the world, and if we’re drowning in uncertainty, we’ll never be able to move forward. Moving forward is what helps squash the fears, so squeezing the negativity connotations out of “uncertainty” and embracing it as something that could make you better at accepting it will make the times fly by and, eventually, we’ll all take a deep breath once we’re certain.

Are you uncertain about the future and it’s been changing you? Let us know in comments below!

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Jimmy Im has traveled to 113 countries, stayed in over 600 hotels and has flown a million airmiles. He lives in New York City.

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