I recently visited London in May of this year. Aside from the obvious awesomeness that permeates the city (hello, it’s the birthplace of Harry Potter and British accents), London also has a multitude of funky, quirky sayings. Like “Mind the Gap.” My personal favorite.
Typically these words are located on the floor of the London Underground between the train door and station platform, warning passengers of the space between. So yes, it does have a practical purpose, but I simply got a kick out of it because it was a reference to the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Just this week, I picked up a book called Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. Best $10.79 I’ve ever spent and I would highly highly highly recommend it. Anyways, she reframed the idea of “Mind the Gap” in a whole new way – and guys, it BLEW MY MIND. Brown says that minding the gap in life is “paying attention to the space between where we’re standing and where we want to go.”
Holy frick, this has been my life for the past five months.
Ok, so let’s just say this. Graduate life is HARD. Adult life is even HARDER. Everything that used to be easy, even making your bed, isn’t anymore. The black and white aspects of life all fade to grey and what you were oh so certain of (your future, your opinions, your outlook on life) becomes a hazy clusterf**k.
Amidst all this chaos and uncertainty and yuck, I had to figure out a way to live somewhat sanely in this liminal space (not a typo, look it up). And that’s where minding the gap comes in. I had to pay attention to where I was spiritually, emotionally and intellectually, while also looking to where I wanted to go. Trust me, that took a long time to learn.
To further extend the metaphor of minding the gap, let’s pretend I’m actually on the Tube in London. As a recent college graduate back in May, I was on the first platform, unsure of how to get from Stop A to Stop B. I didn’t even know what Stop B was, much less the necessary stops it would take to get there. I didn’t know what my future looked like. I was scared. And that fear became paralyzing. That space between where I was standing and where I wanted to go was a vast chasm of uncertainty that I had no intention of approaching.
But I took a step. One small step into the chasm, or onto the platform and over the gap (clearly we have conflicting metaphors now, oops). And that space became one step smaller. A fraction less intimidating.
So now, five months later, I can look back at the figurative gap I’ve crossed and appreciate it for what it was. And I can look forward to where I want to go with slightly less trepidation. But it was that space, that gap, that made all the difference. I had to mind the gap. If I hadn’t, I would have missed out on opportunities for learning, growing and stretching. It is exactly IN this space of uncertainty that we are able to test our boundaries, explore our creative avenues and truly determine what is important to us. Not society – US.
In life, unlike the London Underground, we will never know our final destination. But that doesn’t excuse us from shying away from uncertainty and stepping into the abyss. So I encourage you to not only mind, but to embrace your gap.