Unsupervised Design

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uncertainty

as I work to complete my thesis there is one question that I often hear a variation of when experimental results are discussed.

“are you certain you understand what the results mean?”

this leads to discussions of confidence, comprehension, and control with respect to research. as I spend more time in academia I have begun to consider how these discussions apply to life in general.

people at large generally struggle with uncertainty. manifesting itself as anxiety in people, pushing them to try and tighten their plans to maintain control, or learn every detail about all possible outcomes to worry about which is least unfavourable. the old saying “knowledge is power” is twisted and taken to heart as people seek to ineffectively overcome uncertainty.

as I inch ever closer to the completion of my masters degree I have felt uncertainty manifest in my life as people asking what I am going to do next, where I am going to live, and even if I am done my thesis yet. this uncertainty is pushing to create worry or anxiety in me and the urge to control situations is reflexive. neither of these responses seem terribly productive though.

instead of letting anxiety and worry develop I have been working to channel the energy from general uncertainty into constructive places. a large part of this process has been learning to separate the present from the future.

in academia I have found certainty of a result in the future comes not from controlling everyone else around me or by worrying about how people might possibly question it, but instead by completely understanding the environment that the experiment took place in. armed with the knowledge of the moment that produced the results equips me for future situations.

extending this process beyond academia is a little trickier. in practice it means that the moments when I feel most burdened by uncertainty are the ones where I stop everything, even for a moment, and force myself to be present in whatever activity I am doing. the only impact I can have on the future is to be the best version of myself right now.

tomorrow is coming whether you want it to or not.

embrace today while it is here.