I was one of those kids in school—the quiet one who enjoyed school work, liked worksheets and homework, and did well without much effort. Unfortunately, I grew overly comfortable with this posture toward learning…it was fun because it was easy and because it made me feel smart—which boosted my ego—not because I actually enjoyed learning.
When I got out into the real world, I realized there was a lot I didn’t know. I was no longer the smartest, and what I knew no longer defined me. Truthfully, it terrified me. My entire identity had been built around being the “smart one,” and it turned out I wasn’t so smart after all.
As a young adult, I learned to pretend—to pretend I understood the topic of conversation, to pretend I had read the book being discussed, to pretend I had opinions of my own. My pride wouldn’t let me admit when I didn’t have the answer, and so I had to figure out how to cover up my own ignorance on any given subject.
Needless to say, that’s an exhausting way to live. I was so afraid that someone would discover that I didn’t know anything at all, that they might consider me dumb or uneducated. So I kept pretending. And I didn’t learn much about anything in the process.
Several years ago, I decided I was done pretending. I was just going to be me, with my own thoughts and opinions. I was going to admit when I didn’t know something and embrace learning about new things.
And it’s been incredibly freeing.
You see, in order to learn, we have to be willing to ask questions, to be open to new things, and to listen to other people. That’s extremely hard to do when our pride won’t let us admit that we don’t know something.
However, when we’re willing to admit we don’t know everything, we’re willing to ask more questions and to get input from other people. We’re able to research and seek out information. Which means that, ultimately, we’re able to learn more.
The smartest people are those who ask the most questions, not those with the most answers. That’s the kind of person I want to be—someone who is always exploring, discovering, learning, and questioning. Someone who can admit when a topic is over her head while striving to understand and learn more in the process.
ACTIVITIES & QUESTIONS
- Do you struggle with pride? Is it hard for you to admit when you don’t know something?
- Where is an area where you feel pressure to pretend you “know it all”?