“The time between not knowing and knowing is so brief that knowing feels exactly like not knowing.”

Pete Holmes on having Google on your phone

In my earlier days, I fancied myself as somewhat of a know-it-some. Not quite a know-it-all – that’s a bit too grandiose, even for my past self – but someone who often mistook a well-timed fact for genuine wisdom. It was like wearing a badge that said, “Ask me, I might just know,” except the badge was invisible, and no one really asked.

But here’s the thing: I’ve since learned that knowing everything (or pretending to) is like trying to fill a leaky bucket. It’s exhausting, and you never really get to enjoy the water. I’ve come to appreciate the gaps in my knowledge, the spaces between facts where imagination and wonder lie. It turns out, not knowing something is not just okay; it’s actually quite delightful.

This realization hit me one day, much like a gentle slap from a velvet glove. I was in the middle of reciting some obscure historical factoid – the kind that makes people blink twice and nod politely – when it dawned on me: I was more trivia machine than conversationalist. And let’s be honest, trivia machines are great for bars, not so much for dinner parties.

So, I embarked on a journey of unlearning, or rather, learning to be comfortable with not knowing. It’s a bit like deciding to walk through life without a map. Sure, you get lost more often, but you also discover paths you never knew existed.

In this new world of embracing uncertainty, I’ve found a peculiar kind of peace. It’s the peace that comes from not having to be the smartest person in the room (a room, I’ve realized, that doesn’t actually exist). It’s liberating, like throwing your hands up on a roller coaster instead of gripping the safety bar for dear life.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I still love a good fact. But these days, I’m more interested in the stories that facts can’t tell. I’m intrigued by the mysteries, the unknowns, the little puzzles of everyday life that don’t have immediate answers. It’s in these moments that I find the most joy, the most laughter, and yes, the most wisdom.

So, to all my fellow recovering know-it-somes, I say this: let’s enjoy not knowing. Let’s relish the questions, the mysteries, the not-yet-discovereds. After all, the most interesting stories are the ones with a bit of suspense. And who knows, in the grand narrative of life, maybe the best parts are those where we’re not quite sure what comes next.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand & Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.