When the movement to defund the police was gaining steam, a friend asked whether I supported it or not. I wanted to enthusiastically declare, "yes, of course!" But in all honesty, I didn't know if I supported it or not because I didn't know what defunding the police really meant.
In that moment, I could have made some quick assumptions and responded accordingly. But it wouldn't have been an honest answer or lead to an honest conversation. So I admitted to her that I didn't know much about it. I was a little embarrassed, but my vulnerability opened the door for an educational and enriching discussion.
Admittedly, I don't always take the high road. Sometimes, I feel compelled to pretend to know someone or something I don't.
Friend: You've heard of so and so, right?
Me: Of course! (I mean, I'm pretty sure I've seen her on IG...)
Friend: Isn't so and so's new album the bomb?
Me: Absolutely! (If I've listened to & like one of his new songs, it's safe to say I'd dig the entire album, right???)
It's silly, really. Why pretend to know what I really don't, especially with such superficial topics? In my case, I think it primarily stems from my desire to people please. But there's definitely some ego at play as well. I just don't want to appear uneducated, incapable or out of touch.
Maybe you've done it, too. With friends, you've pretended to be familiar with an artist, restaurant or news story. Or in an interview, you've claimed to be competent with a certain skill or software program.
We're taught at an early age to be honest and say "I don't know" when it's the truth. Why does that get harder as we get older? Why are we ashamed to admit that we don't know something? It's impossible to know or have an educated opinion of everything.
It's also "impossible to learn what you think you already know" (Epictetus). Admitting we don't know something gives us a chance to learn and grow. It provides an opportunity to think critically and ask questions rather than spew worthless bullish!t. It makes us humble, honest and authentic. It also frees us of awkward conversations (ie- me pretending to know what defunding the police is all about).
So, I'm challenging myself to become more comfortable with those three little words: I DON'T KNOW. If this is something you struggle with, I invite you to join me. There's nothing to be ashamed of. Honesty is always better.