Love Letter to Uncertainty: A Photo Essay


Life consists of constant decisions. Some that you can control, others that you cannot. Some that are for your benefit, others that might be for pure convenience. Knowing what is going to happen is comforting, to see the “you are here” sticker on the map, walking the beaten path and not getting lost. But there’s rarely anything new and exciting happening within the walls of comfortability—this is when my love for uncertainty knocks on the door and takes with it all logic, and leaves a note telling me to follow it, trust that the unknown will lead to far greater adventures than knowing ever will.

What would life be like if I knew exactly where I’m going or what I’m doing? What would I miss along the way if I never got lost, if I never missed a flight or made a tough decision? Uncertainty, despite many hours of anxiety, has given me so much that I’d never change for anything else. It has terrified me but also given me the curiosity and courage to do the things that I want to do, learning to trust the process. If it wasn’t for my missteps throughout the way, I would have missed out on so many great lessons and experiences. Looking back to times where I felt overwhelmed and confused about my direction in life, I can see through my photographs that the defining moments weren’t the big spectacles and adventures, they were the small mundane moments in the middle of all of that. I just had to look up and catch them, enjoy them, and cherish the memories made along the way.

There’s so many safe cards to play, so many reasons not to do certain things, not go some places, not say certain things. Not because we can’t, but because we don’t know what is waiting for us if we do. Uncertainty is a gray zone that can either be seen as mystery or misery. The answer to all of life’s questions is a wide-open door, but it’s located twenty feet up in the air and you have no way to reach it. We spend life searching for a rope or a ladder to get up there and get through it. But we’ll never find it. We’ll never have all of the information we think we need to act, so it’s better to just make a start. Maybe it’s not about finding the answers, but surrendering to not knowing how things will turn out. Let them unfold and trust yourself in the process. Trust that you will learn along the way. Because even in the midst of life’s confusion and madness lies immense beauty to experience if you just take a moment to see it, to look up and zoom out. 

I’ve been forced to learn to embrace the uncertainty of change rather than running away from it into the arms of comfortability. And in the embracing I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe life really is the true definition for uncertainty. That not knowing what to do, where to go, what will happen, is part of being human. Unexpected changes that turn your world, your community, your country upside down is part of it all. Perhaps everyone already knew this, but I’m starting to realize it more and more as I go. It’s not just feeling lost in my twenties, it’s searching for something that can’t be seen, but felt. Not knowing what to do, but go on living anyway. Finding a direction and making my own path as I walk it. 

I’m looking out of my window to see if maybe something will come to me from out there, if I just look long enough, hold my gaze towards the horizon like a captain searching for land after weeks at sea. I see a sailboat cruising by, how cool would it be to live on one someday. Not far from away a surfer is paddling around, maybe I should go get my surfboard instead. Perhaps I can find my words in the ocean. 

Sometimes when I feel lost, I go to the water. I paddle out, against the waves, against the currents, above the deep. The ocean is so much bigger than me. I let it wrap around me, and I look out—the endless sky, the distant horizon, the silhouettes of people on the beach.

Sometimes, beauty is enough.


About Author


Madeleine Sydkvist

Madeleine holds an Associate in Journalism and is now studying to pursue her BA at Antioch University Santa Barbara. She’s been working as a photographer and reporter and has a big passion for good journalism.

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