Knowledge in not knowing

Girl climbing up a mountain

Am I doing this right? Am I doing enough? Why can’t I finish what I start? How will I do this on my own? Does everyone figure it out? Why haven’t I done more? I have the resources, I have the time, don’t I? Am I just too selfish? What more should I be doing? Will it make a difference? Am I capable of changing things? Or are there too many things to change? What will the world be like when I’ve grown up? Am I already there? Am I ready to be there? What about the ones after me, am I doing everything I should be for them?

Questions. More questions. Doubt. More questions. Optimism. Doubt. Even more questions.

For the first time in my life, there are days where I do not know what I am doing. And that terrifies me.  Finding your footing becomes all that more difficult in a world where everything is in your face–– forcibly comparing yourself to others, constantly feeling inferior, always feeling that you could have and should have accomplished more, done more, helped more. You feel guilty for being able to just be. Because there seems to be endless individuals your age who have done incredible things–– they have started their own NGOs, their own businesses, helped those in need, spoke their mind, went against the odds, changed their communities, bettered the world. They have done all of the things you say you want to do, all of the things you think about and say tomorrow. All of the things you were too unsure, too apprehensive, too insecure to do yourself. Because they seem to know what they are doing–– and you do not want to make a fool of yourself. But more than that, you do not want to fail.

The truth is, nobody knows exactly what they are doing. What we see on social media is their ambition, their success, their confidence. We forget that nobody shows what they do not want the world to see, all the uncertainty included. And it is us who perpetuate this facade of perfection by not sharing our triumphs and defeats, knowing that someone is looking at you and saying “I could never do that”–– all while you think it about someone else. Our generation is so worried about building a profile that we we forget to build a person, so consumed by being something that we neglect our human need to be someone. Rarely do we ever candidly share our greatest fears–– when perhaps the true way we will overcome them is through one another, beside one another, with one another.

Growing up, I thought I had to do everything, know everything, be everything.

You do not–– all you have to be is you.

What I have learned is that there is knowledge in not knowing. We begin to make sense of ourselves and the world around us the moment the epiphany strikes that we will never make sense of either–– and that perhaps we never should. Our sense of purpose is not defined by what we have done, but what we seek. We become who we are through trial and error, through beginning anew when we finally thought we had it figured out, and accepting that a life of passion, of wanting to make change, rarely comes in straight lines. When we allow our fear of failure to overtake us, we say to the world we have done enough already–– that we know wholly who we are, and that this is our stopping point. Let us never reach that point of comfort, for to stop learning is to stop growing.  Find humility in challenge, courage in the face of adversity, and excitement in the unknown, even when doing so may be against our very nature. Because when you live for what you are doing and not where you are going, life has a way of working out.

My questions remain unanswered, but my doubt is quelled. I am trying to do my part, for myself, my community, and the world–– and right now, that is what matters most. I’ve discovered more of my whys than hows, but I have come to understand that I do not need to be completely confident in who I am at this point in my life to be completely confident in my ability to create change.

Do not doubt yourself, you got this. We got this–– together. Let us promise to never allow our fear to guide us away from becoming all we have the potential to be.

Growing up, I thought I had to do everything, know everything, be everything.

You do not–– all you have to be is you.
United States of America