I believe that doubt is the oxygen that fuels intellectual growth, it’s the, “I wonder if” that begins all good thinking and it’s the nagging insecurity that compels us to continually review, revisit and revise. I also believe that doubt has gotten a bad reputation and we should learn to embrace our doubts and the necessary insecurity that comes with it.
Life is all about uncertainty. Once we accept this and accept our doubts and insecurities as a logical response, we can let doubt work for us. I’ve been a school teacher for 28 years. A few weeks I was talking with a colleague who told me, “I’ve been at this for 5 years and I’m still not sure I’m doing it right” I thought about it for a while and replied that I’ve felt the same way. He said, “When does it get better?” I told him I would let him know when it happens. I believe that as long as my young friend continues to harbor these doubts and insecurities he will continue to strive to do better, learn more and try new approaches. Once he has it “all figured out” his energy will shift from investigating, learning and innovating to defending and rationalizing.
A line in Joni Mitchell’s “Case of you” sums it up, “I’m frightened by the devil but I’m drawn to those who ain’t afraid”. Harboring doubts and insecurities isn’t pleasant and it’s easy to be drawn to folks who claim to have “the” answer or “The” plan. In reality we have can have hopes and dreams, beliefs and convictions but we can’t have certainty. Once we accept this inevitability be begin to understand that there only those who claim to be unafraid and those who are brave enough to admit our doubts and insecurities.
I believe the sooner we give up our pursuit of certainty and accept our doubts as the essential (albeit irritating) force that it is, that we will all be better off.
At least I’m pretty sure that we would be better off.
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