They Are Not Obstacles, They Are Opportunities



January is a time of the year when emotions and events can feel especially intense. Even just the anti-climax after Christmas can result in feelings of absence or uncertainty regarding how to carry on forward. That is a key element about much of life – uncertainty – and in terms of a New Year, there are many things ahead we can’t be quite sure of.

Perhaps you have a new role at work coming up, an exam, a concern about your health... of course, the uncertainties can seem deeper and darker the more we think about them. It’s no wonder then that it is the factor of ‘uncertainty’ which seems to form so many of the obstacles we encounter year-in year-out. You may have shied away from taking on a new role because of the uncertainty or have fallen into a routine to keep the ‘unknown’ at bay. Yet what I want to emphasize is that ‘uncertainty’ is an inevitable in life and only becomes an obstacle when you allow it to be so. You have the power to turn uncertainty into opportunity, just by your experience of it; and that’s a brilliant thing.


Obstacles are what you make them

Of course it’s natural to feel apprehensive of the uncertainties of the coming year. I myself face a number of scenarios I can’t be sure of the outcome of: returning to higher education, finding a new place to live, leaving my current job. Once I would have seen such things as awful obstacles: things to ‘fight’ with. Yet now, rather than focusing on the obstacle, I focus on the opportunities offered by uncertainty. First of all, and crucially, the uncertainties in life are a chance to reach out and ASK other people.

Remember ‘obstacles’ are called this because they block a path we are travelling on, they do not end it. That’s why you still have the capacity to carry on – because a key way you can break down what seems like the blockage, is to ENGAGE with it. ASKING is one way, but it isn’t the only way. The point about the uncertainty in life is that there is no right answer, but essentially, there is no wrong answer either. Whether you act or don’t act, ask or don’t ask – either way you are acquiring experience of a situation. Thus whatever way you reason and choose to deal with uncertainty is valuable – because it’s a course of experience which shapes you and you can share with others too.


Your experiences and engagement are always worth it

My motto is this – by engaging with the obstacle you are turning it into opportunity. For example, even if encountering it is hard, the experience of doing so can be shared with others. You acquire knowledge from facing your obstacles (even if facing them is just thinking about them), and this is incredibly valuable. I have made, in retrospect, a number of decisions (especially because I was uncertain about things) which were perhaps not the best for the situation, but this doesn’t make them entirely bad. The hard-going times in our lives form hard-earned experience – this is what makes us unique and capable of giving insight to others.


Going forward

For some people the first stage starts with enquiry: don’t be afraid of asking people about what is troubling you, questioning the situation you are in, even just by writing about it. Cathartic offers that opportunity and after all, uncertainty may be inevitable... but questions keep the world going. Asking a family member for advice can mean a lot to tem in itself. Even if you are in a new environment, such as a new work position, asking another colleague a question is the journey to unlock both connection, and knowledge.


Uncertainty is the opportunity to know and experience more

For me, uncertainty once seemed like a huge obstacle, but now I look to it as a chance to ask questions and engage with a variety of people in the process. Consider who can contact – there is so much around you – from the anonymity of Cathartic, to other social platforms including social media. Even when it seems like chaos, there is always the capacity to connect:

  • New job? - asking questions is what gets you further, faster. Plus it’s a chance to meet new people and see a different side to yourself too

  • Lifestyle change? It could be anything from a house move to a change of who you’re living with. Either way, this opens new experiences; something you can share with others

  • Just not sure? – That’s fine too. Going through uncertainties and what we gain from the process is part of being human


Character-building and connection forming; you can turn obstacles into opportunities. We all can.  If you have a story of turning an obstacle into an opportunity that you would share on Cathartic, please click on the "Your Story" button above.