Zia Hassan

The Privilege That Keeps Us Sane

Sanity is fleeting these days. I feel it. You probably feel it too.

Most of this discomfort seems to do with a certain balance between certainty and uncertainty. On one hand, predictability and routine make us feel safe and comfortable. Maybe it’s the 30-something in me, but I love waking up and feeling like I can predict what will happen in my day.

In fact, one of the first things I learned when I became a teacher is how much kids love routine. Truth is, people love routine… it just needs to be explicitly stated that kids love routine because it’s up to adults to set that routine. Adult routines are fairly self-working given our societal structure. Mealtimes are set, recreational time is set (after COB), work time is set (9-5), and weekends are our wildcards.

But all of this would be very boring without uncertainty. Crazy news stories, personal anecdotes that are extraordinary, illness, death, tragedy… all become the blips, waves, and tsunamis in the otherwise boring day-to-day.

So we stay sane, surfing between the certain and the uncertain. Too much certainty and we’re doomed to boredom. Too much uncertainty and we’re constantly in a tailspin, fending for our lives.

This balance, of course, is a privilege. There are families and individuals who don’t have a predictable day-to-day. And the stress associated with that kind of life is what proves to me how much humans need it, and how life can be so unfair and inequitable.