Life will hit you fast, hard, AND repeatedly. When it does, you may have to speak to it as the lovely Jasmine Guy did as Whitley Gilbert in 1987 in a "A Different World" episode, "Relax, Relate, Release!". Normally people will tell you that you have two choices in life: "face it head on or lay down so it can run over you". I want to offer a third option on how to handle life when it is lifeing. I want to introduce you to the acronym V.U.C.A. It stands for volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. According to Mindtools in 2023, this concept was first mentioned in "The United States War College in 2001 after the September 11th attacks”. What is important to note about this concept is that there are four components that affect us in several different ways on several different levels. All have emotional or cognitive assertions, but they also manifest in physical ways. Let us pull them apart piece by piece and really examine what, why, where, when, and most of all how these four impact our lives.
Volatile is an adjective with five distinct meanings. The first meaning according to Merriam-Webster in 2023 is "characterized by or subject to rapid or unexpected change"; "tending to erupt into violence"; "readily vaporizable at a relatively low temperature"; "difficult to capture or hold permanently"; and "flying or having the power to fly". All these meanings have a commonality which is movement. Look at the words: rapid, erupt, vaporizable, capture/hold, and fly. Each word indicates movement of some sort. Well, that is how life is, ever moving, always changing, never still. It is very difficult to control something which exhorts its own force and momentum. Which is how life is and does. Life does not always give us signs of when it is about to make a turn or send us through some type of test. We just must be flexible to withstand sudden movements so that we do not break under pressure. Let us begin to explore our second term in this concept.
Uncertain is what I imagine how many of us have felt at some points in our lives. I will say some points because I do not believe that uncertainty impacts our lives only once. Uncertain is a word that also has five meanings, but they are intertwined together. According to Merriam-Webster in 2023 the five meanings are as follows: "not known beyond doubt"; "not constant"; "indefinite"; "not certain to occur’; and "not reliable". All the words point to a shaky or rocky foundation on which you cannot build anything substantial or lasting on. When your world is turned upside down and you are trying to seek a firm grasp on things, the last thing that will help you is the presence of uncertainty. Imagine your child has been making grades that may not have been the best, but they were passing, now you must deal with the possibility of them not going to the next grade because of a State Standardized Assessment. If this is not you, more than likely, if you look around, it is the reality of someone close to you either relational or spatial. As we continue pulling back the complexities of what this condition can and does bring forth in peoples' lives, then it is imperative to identify the parts and how they affect us. Now to evaluate the third term in this concept.
Complex is an understatement of how life brings issues into our lives. The word complex is complex in the position that it holds three different parts of speech. It can be a noun, an adjective, or a verb. According to Merriam-Webster in 2023 in the position of a noun the meanings are as follows: "a whole made up of complicated or interrelated parts"; "a group of culture traits relating to a single activity (such as hunting), process (such as use of flint), or culture unit"; "a chemical association of two or more species (such as ions or molecules) joined usually by weak electrostatic bonds rather than covalent bonds"; a building or group of buildings housing related units". As an adjective: "composed of two or more parts"; "hard to separate, analyze, or solve"; "of, concerned with, being, or containing complex numbers". As a verb: "to make complex or into complex". Have you ever had an easy way to fix something and next thing you know, one slight adjustment on the part or you or someone else now puts the simple into the category of impossible? Well, that is what often happens when complex is added to a situation. However, it could be looked upon in two ways: distraction or speed bump. You may need to focus on a better solution, however, to do that you may need to slow down in your processing. On the other side, it could be that you are so close to where you are supposed to be, that a distraction is showing up to deter you from your mark.
Ambiguous has been very present these days and times. Between a worldwide pandemic, financial uncertainties, racial under and overtones, attacks on education, and the other numerous issues we face more ambiguity than ever before. Ambiguous has two meanings, however, they are easy to overlay in the times we are living in now. According to Merriam Webster in 2023 the two meanings are as follows: "doubtful or uncertain especially from obscurity or indistinctness"; "capable of being understood in two or more possible senses or ways". These terms lend themselves to understanding that at times when the way or decisions do not seem clear, we must look to others that we trust to get information to make the "right" decision for ourselves and families. The understanding that being uncertain or doubtful can cause anxiousness for some, it is worth noting that for those who do have those tendencies, look to someone you trust to help navigate that decision.
So, what do we do now with all the information presented to us in the reading. Begin to process on how does this concept impact my life, or does it impact my life? If it does impact my life or the lives of people I am connected to, what do I do to create balance and calmness? Once you can name an issue then you can begin to address the issue. There is not a lot you can do if you do not recognize what exactly you are struggling with at the moment. Another thing to consider as well is the question of: "is this a moment or is this due to my lifestyle". If it is a moment, then your solutions may not be as complicated to resolve as the situation may be presenting itself to be. However, if it is a lifestyle, you may need to seek professional help like a life coach or a therapist depending on what the issues happen to be. I will create follow up blogs with suggestions that may help resolve the pressures of those issues. You are not alone, as long as you choose not to be alone.