Spoilers: We Don't Have to Know Everything
Usually introductions give you an idea of what to expect within the following articles. They explain where the ideas came from, why they’ve been written down, and detail the author’s thesis behind it all. Unfortunately, I have no damned clue what this blog is going to be about. Only that I must write it. For me or for you, I’m not yet sure.
Truth is from the second we’re born, we study those around us for clues about how the world works. Our parents, our doctors, our friends, neighbors, and more. It’s how humans survive, and it’s a very handy instinct. We learn to walk, talk, eat, and love by watching those around us. Realizing that the people we mimicked are still trying to figure out their own lives is shocking and we seem to learn it repeatedly, no matter how old we are. Then, we have to learn it about ourselves too. We think “I’ve thought this my whole life, and it never occurred to me to question it.”
But isn’t that nonfiction at its finest? How many of life’s hidden blessings be spoiled if we could pick up a book on our own lives and skim the table of contents for an answer or jump to the end to get some clarification? In this way, fiction and nonfiction are complete strangers. Fiction must obey the rules understood by the readers. If any part of the story’s reality differs from real life, it must be explained or else the reader will get frustrated, put it down, and forget it. A knife in the background of act one must be active by act three. Nonfiction, however, holds no promise to make sense by the end. If there is a logic behind it all, it’s beyond the understanding of its witnesses, and if the witness is frustrated, they cannot simply walk away.
Similarly, I cannot sit down and plan out this blog because if I did, it would quickly prove me wrong. How do I know this? Because I’ve tried. I plotted this blog out in many ways throughout my adulthood. It was once about my spirituality, then about embracing emotions, about fighting the system, then the breaking the rules. I wanted to write about what I know, but what do I know? Really? College changed everything I learned in elementary school and then came 2020 which sharpened into view the social dirt swept under the rug of our country.
Personally, everything I thought I wanted came into question because I got a chance to really fight for it only to find the process I’d been taught to be icky and self serving, my mentor to be greedy and undermining, and my passion for the art of writing fading away. Then I found some enlightened writers who took a spiritual approach to the craft which resonated well with me and with it came a terrifying peace that maybe I didn’t need to fight for my art. Maybe it would be what it would be, and though I longed for more, I needed to challenge myself to look deeply at those longings, those goals, and pressures on myself, and clear away what didn’t serve my happiness.
By the time college started for me, I was already struggling to heal a stress ulcer brought on by high school and all those asterisks in life that come with becoming a woman in a society built for men. On top of that, I had absorbed online rants about the hustle and the grind like they were crumbs to a lottery ticket. I believed that one day, if I just did enough, planned ahead, and gave it every second I had, maybe then, and only then, would I succeed. My college advisor had a nasty habit of convincing students we were lazy if we took less than 18 credits a semester. The teachers I got stuck with at church taught “being prepared” to mean “you don’t know what the world will demand of you so learn everything just in case.”
I wanted to be good enough to earn happiness and trusted those who seemed happy at face value to explain the route and dangers. Now, at 30 years old, it feels like every day I’m thinking to myself “wait, that rule is crap too, isn’t it?”
So how can I write about answers if I can’t be sure I know anything? If I had successfully published a book five or even two years ago about what I thought I knew, I could not in good conscious suggest it to readers now. When exactly can I say this is what I know and I shall stand by it for the rest of my life?
Then there’s the matter of personalities and human design. Even if I knew with extreme confidence who I was and how life worked for me, I couldn’t preach it to someone else because everyone’s lives are different which means everyone’s needs are different. If I tried to force my life onto my sister, she’d probably go insane. Likewise, if I tried to be as mentally on game as she is, I’d fail miserably every day. So how can I write a book telling you how to be happy if I only know what works for me?
I don’t know you. Hopefully, I’m not the first nonfiction author to admit this. I don’t know if you need more vitamin D, sleep, exercise, or a craft buddy. Do you need to let more people into your life or to tell everyone to fuck right off? I honestly don’t know and it seems unethical to write a persuasive article implying I, a complete stranger, know more about your needs than you.
Here’s what I do know: how to question what I’d been told, let go of false beliefs, and the value of simply trying. I can share with you my personal journey toward my own happiness, with the acknowledgment that such a journey is ongoing, but if you continue on, dear reader, please remember that my journey is personal. What worked for me might not work for you and if it does, you’ll know by looking within and feeling your own heart inspired. It is not my intention for others to live my life or to fit themselves to my rules. Rather, for the words on these pages to be permission for you to live authentically, to explore who you are at your soul’s core, to embrace your truth, and ask yourself what if I was more me?
I also think it's important, especially in this ego-centric reality where we're literally told to "fake it until we make it" to acknowledge when we don't know something. It's okay not to know everything, not to have all the answers. What's something you don't know and why is that okay? Feel free to journal your response privately, comment it to the blog, or reach out to me through Instagram or Tiktok.