Uncertainty by Steven Jarbola

“Humph, let’s check that again.” She pouted, eyes squinted, puzzled at what she just read. Staring at the blank, expressionless white wall, I held out my arm. The black Velcro strap tightened, causing the pin on the gauge to shoot up. “No, one-fifty over ninety, that’s right,” she said, looking almost satisfied with the confirmation. It’s funny, at doctors’ offices I never really hear what they say, just nod and think about something else, like lunch. I have to admit, high blood pressure at eighteen years of age is pretty odd but just a sort of novelty to joke to your buds about. “We’ll have to order you some tests,” she said, scribbling on her clipboard, “some blood work, an EKG . . . peanut butter and jelly, or perhaps a cheeseburger?”

It’s a strange sensation to have your inner feelings come to physical manifestation, like realizing you’re not really going crazy, just falling apart instead. I always thought it’d be an ulcer, all my acidic feelings bubbling over, forming a pulsing polyp. But, no, I have high blood pressure, like a geriatric or chronic smoker. I doubt either of those groups would accept me though. I don’t smoke, and I’m way under sixty. Those two facts alone stop me right out of the gate. They’d say, “Ha, look at you, young and healthy. What do you have to be stressed about?” Well, just about nothing, but that’s the thing. I’m almost ashamed to feel stressed because, in all reality, my life’s easy as pie. I have the vast resources of the twenty-first century at my fingertips, ready to cure any problem, but I can’t seem to use those resources for anything but idle meandering.

Idle meandering plagues my generation, and oftentimes I feel I’m just another of its casualties. This generation stands at the start of a new century with endless doors of possibility open, but it shakes, fearful of itself, afraid to enter any door. Uncertainty lies at the root of this apprehension. With a plethora of continuous advancements this generation is at the cusp of uncovering greatness. Millennials have the potential to devise a cure for cancer, colonize Mars, or develop an alternative to gasoline, and these possibilities just scratch the surface. Yet, instead of snapping into work, we’d rather Snapchat. The previous generation would attribute this to laziness, saying, “Those darn millennials have no work ethic. They’re nothing but lazy!” But, I don’t think it’s laziness that affects millennials; I believe it’s profound uncertainty. Even the most motivated and goal-driven millennials are struck by uncertainty. They have the means to build beautiful and purposeful creations, but uncertain of the outcome, they are afraid to try. I am a part of this uncertain generation, doing what’s required of me to survive but too afraid to branch beyond. I fear stepping over the brink.

And yet, uncertainty is not wholly a negative force. Ironically, it can be a source of motivation, pushing one to create. When perceived with optimism, uncertainty drives the forces of creation. Great artists are uncertain of their work, but this uncertainty does not cripple them, rather it fuels their art. Uncertainty breeds the desire to prove the critics wrong, to prove one’s self wrong. It creates the desire for greatness, to transcend from the mundane to the great. At times, I recognize in myself this desire to transcend. I wish to create something great, something beautiful. I’m uncertain what the outcome of trying to accomplish a feat of such magnitude would be, and this uncertainty both fuels my desire to try and prevents me from trying. Uncertainty holds me back from stepping over the brink of the accepted, all while whispering in my ear, telling me to jump. It tells me I could fall into success or failure, but I’m unsure of which lies at the bottom. Like others in my generation, I must find equilibrium between action and inaction, and allow myself to create untethered by uncertainty while, at the same time, let uncertainty fuel my creation.

Perhaps fittingly, I find myself unsure of where I stand in relation to uncertainty. I have not yet committed wholly to either philosophy. I don’t know if I can step over the brink of the accepted. I also don’t believe that I can forever stand at the edge. Maybe I just haven’t found the courage to step over the brink. I, like my generation, find myself paralyzed. I need to choose. One is defined by his choices, and I must decide if I’m going to play it safe, or if I will fall into the unknown. My generation must make the same decision. Will we live safely? Or, will we fall into daring creation?




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