when you don’t know what you don’t know

The most problematic aspect of uncertainty is that it doesn’t go away even after you acknowledge it. For most other problems, once you recognize and diagnose it, you can begin to solve it. If you’re tired, get more and more consistent sleep. If you know you aren’t healthy, the next step is usually pretty straight forward: drink water, exercise, get a good amount of sleep, eat a balanced diet, etc. If you aren’t doing well on a project, you assess why. Maybe you look up youtube videos or read a book to learn what you don’t know, or try to communicate better with your group. Realizing you aren’t sure? How do you “fix” that, where’s the solution?

The initial intuitive key is to learn more. If you don’t know what you don’t know, then you can find out by trying to “know” more. But where do you begin? If you are trying to learn about a new subject, it’s good to try and get an overview of things first. You can read articles and watch videos that sum it up, then look at what famous people in the area say about it, and from there start using key words to find out about more of the details. What if it’s more than that, however? What if it’s an emotional, relational situation? Things get messier when you start throwing humans into the mix. You have to respect others and their experiences. Still, just because they think a certain way and have a line of opinions to tell you doesn’t mean that you have to agree with them. We have to balance respect and self-respect, communicating tactfully while completely and truly listening to what they have to say. However, the uncertainty question comes back again: How? How do you be assertive and yet respectful when you aren’t ever 100% sure of how the other person thinks? Or sometimes, how do you just be respectful when you find their opinions despicable?

Sure, you can realize that you are uncertain, but when the next step isn’t clear, things are plain difficult. And the most terrifying but realistic answer is that we don’t ever truly know the next step. We will always have to deal with some level of uncertainty. What we can do is try to move past it. You don’t know what you’re doing, or even what questions to ask? Tell someone you don’t know what questions to ask. Wing things if you need to just get them down. If you try something and it doesn’t work, you’ll know for certain at least that that particular route doesn’t work. Diagnosing the fact you are uncertain doesn’t feel like a huge step compared to diagnosing other things, but it actually is a bigger step than we realize. If we think we know and we don’t, we can’t have the opportunity to fail, and if we don’t have the opportunity to fail, we can never learn. The next step may be foggy, but that’s okay. Just take that step anyways and try to learn what places to avoid.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s