We Don’t Need to Know it All
One Restless writer explores the power of admitting “I don’t know”
I have long believed that ignorance is thinking you know everything. This goes without saying, no one in the world knows everything. Yet in a time of Google being asked on average 3-5 billion questions a day, surprisingly we are still in the presence of people who assume they no longer need to learn. I am sure that I am not alone when I say that I have blind spots. I know there are things I just don’t know how to do or knowledge that I don’t possess. I feel like we rarely say this, instead presenting a facade free from weaknesses; an IQ unblemished by gaps. In a world where knowledge is power, how are we to continue to grow if we don’t keep on learning?
There is a clear dichotomy of facts versus clever presentation of falsity at play here. I am humble enough to know that many things escape me. I am the first to admit my terrible French – I can never live down my French oral GCSE (Je suis ping pong). I cannot spell to save myself, and if I didn’t have spell check, I would not be a writer at all. It’s not just the gaps in my knowledge that elude me, take a dive through my google history, and you find questions that show the chinks in my IQ’s armour; Why is New York called New York? How do you do long division? How do you know if you live in a hard or soft water area? All these burning questions that I turned to the internet to find the answers to, show that there are many things that I simply do not know, however, at 25 I feel I am clever enough to admit this. My blind spots are not failings on my part, instead, they are opportunities for me to learn, and develop my understanding of the world.
With youth comes confidence, and I feel many people my age act like the world is not a mystery to them. It turns out that there are more and more questions that we need the answers to. Like any writer worth their salt, I turned to Instagram and asked my followers what blind spots they have. Responses included: how to have small talk, how to read the electricity meter, how to write a cover letter, how to drive, how to change a tyre (who can do this?), and the most relatable, how to iron a fitted sheet. All these people are grown adults, going about their lives knowing they have areas that lack certain skills, yet they are still coping very well, thank you.
There are so many things that we can do, admitting that there is something that we cannot do, shouldn’t matter. However, I would argue that we all hate to lose face. No one wants to feel like the butt of the joke when the people around you know something that you don’t. But when you have already experienced this, the fear no longer exists, because you have the power of knowledge. I will never forget, whilst studying for my Biology A Level, saying that I had always believed that grey squirrels were simply red squirrels that had aged. My peers found me hilarious. Even though my squirrel memories still bring colour to my cheeks, I know that the process of learning is an important one and one that none of us are immune to.
Power is gained by sharing it, not hoarding it. So to become a stronger and more united society, we should all seek to learn more and never stop. I will always argue that age should never be used against anyone. I feel that there is a certain consensus that the older you are, the more you know, I would argue that experience does not automatically equal an advanced skill set or indeed greater amount of knowledge. The people who are telling Greta Thunberg that she is too young to express an opinion on the state of our climate, are exactly the ignorant people who assume they are too old to learn. We don’t need to know it all, so if you need an actionable takeaway from this touchy subject, here it is; remember no one is infallible, we all have areas that are not our strongest, and you really shouldn’t spend a single moment worrying about it. After all, life is short. If you want to improve on something that is lacking in your skillset, then it is never too late. Who knows, I may yet become fluent in French!