Why ‘I Don’t Know’ Can Sometimes Be The Best Answer

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Our relationship with needing to know is an interesting one. Some people are OK with not knowing. but for most of us, not knowing equates to fear, so we try to avoid it.

What’s interesting is that just knowing something doesn’t automatically mean we’re equipped to deal with it. Knowing that my mortgage stands at $500,000 doesn’t help me pay it off any sooner, than if I didn’t know the exact value of it. Yet not knowing how much debt you have, would probably cause a lot of people fear and anxiety.

In many ways, not knowing is a blessing in disguise. Whether it relates to work direction, sexual orientation or any number of life matters, not knowing can be seen as an opportunity. How many times in your life do you get the chance to start afresh, as a complete blank slate? Not knowing the answer to something can be that opportunity for you.

Instead of fearing it, we should embrace the uncertainty. Just taking that first step will hopefully minimise, or at least neutralise, some of the negative emotions in the situation. Accept yourself where you are. It’s where you’re meant to be.


READ – Finding Meaning – Why Questions Are Just As Good As Answers


A big issue for a lot of people, and one that I have experienced as well, comes from comparing yourself to others who are where you’d like to be. It took me until I was well into my 20s to figure out some of the most basic stuff (like which country I wanted to permanently live in). Most people make this decision early on in their lives, and for them, it’s a relatively easy one. For me it wasn’t. The difficulty was amplified when I compared myself to people my own age, and younger, who weren’t struggling with this issue in the same way that I was.

But we’re all different and unique. We’ve all heard the ‘success stories’ of singers who could sing by the age of 3, or people who knew what they wanted to do with their lives by the time they finished primary school. For these people, that’s great. But for most of us, life isn’t that clear cut and linear. So if you’re in your 40s, 50s or even older, and you still don’t know what you want to do with your life, that’s perfectly fine. I’d even go so far as to say that it’s actually normal, it’s just that we don’t hear about it in the media because it’s not deemed newsworthy.

How many people are truly happy with their lives? You can’t take a set and forget approach to life. What may have made you happy and gave you meaning two decades ago, may not apply to your life now. It’s better to ask yourself a question to which the answer may very well be ‘I don’t know’, as opposed to just living out your days in fear of asking that question.

‘I don’t know’ is an honest starting point. It’s the first step. And first steps are usually the hardest ones to take.

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