Knowing Only Halfway
By: Josh O'Shea, Young Adult Librarian
I have a tendency to get anxious or even paralyzed when I feel I don’t know everything about something I feel I should. In college, I’d look for so many different sources to understand exactly what each author was saying I left little time to make my own argument. As a librarian, I feel silly when I don’t know an answer from memory to a question. Even now, writing this, I feel I have to cover all possible aspects of this topic in order for me to write a good essay. If the anxiety builds in me as I strive to know everything, I think there may be a few of you who experience the same thing.
What can we do when we feel insecure? When we realize there are gaps in our knowledge?
Should we do nothing? Should these knowledge gaps stop us from speaking about something important to us? No!
We want to kick away anxiety and worry and realize it’s okay to feel overwhelmed in a pursuit to know as much as we can about a subject. We can be okay with ourselves when we realize we don’t have to have perfect knowledge about a topic. Worry and anxiety are roadblocks to getting what we need. Sometimes we can deal with struggles like worry and anxiety on our own; sometimes we need help from loved ones or professionals and we should never be ashamed of asking for that help.
Truth is, there’s so much information and interpretation on any given topic that we’ll never know all there is to know on one subject. But maybe we can know things “halfway” or “a third of the way.” When we recognize and own the idea that we can know things only part way, we can be empowered to do what we need to do.
We should study as much as we can, talk with people who live in relevant situations, and do our best to look at an issue from all sides. Doing so inspires us to continually learn and grow; keep pushing, keep acquiring knowledge, and keep gaining wisdom. It’s okay for us to change our opinion because of new information presented. All of us only know so much (but not everything) on a topic, which forces us to work together toward a better understanding.
Realizing we will never fill all the gaps in our understanding empowers us to never stop trying, whether we’re trying something fun or required. We’re always learning and adapting. Sometimes feeling unsure about something means we should dive in so that we can grow; it always means we should find out more to see if it’s right for us. Nobody knows 100% about everything, and that’s okay. If we accept the idea that there’s so much to learn that knowing something half way is actually a lot, we can start to feel fine with knowing we don’t know everything; this empowers us to start, to keep trying, to always be learning.
Below are some book recommendations where the main character take a journey of understanding:
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
Denton Little’s Still Not Dead by Lance Rubin
I Stop Somewhere by T. E. Carter
Nice Try Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke