I Believe That No One Knows What They Are Doing

Carmen - San Antonio, Texas
Entered on October 24, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: humility, place

Working in a museum for long periods of time has taught me many things about the inner workings of people. I volunteer at a little display that explains spinning and weaving. It is a shadowy place where many people don’t realize that I’m a real person and not a mannequin. This semi-invisibility allows me to watch people and understand them.

One of the things I have come to understand is this: no one knows what they are doing. People are very insecure, no matter how they present themselves to the contrary. I have come to the conclusion after watching countless people react to the man at the chuck wagon. His display is directly across from mine. His joy in life is to fool people into thinking he is a robot. He is very good at it. He sits very still on his bench staring straight ahead, taking sips of imaginary coffee from his empty tin cup at three minute intervals.

I have watched dozens of people full of confidence and gusto come to my exhibit and ask pretentious and dim-witted questions, then proceed across the way to hang awkwardly back, unsure whether to ask the man a question, or to take a picture with the remarkable robot. Some have even gone so far as to try to take his tin cup, before shrieking in bewilderment as Mr. Chuck-wagon feigns offense.

This might only prove that people who work at museums are very strange (which may be true). But to me it proves that we are all unsure of ourselves, although many of us are quite adept at hiding this with a brave face.

It might be strange to take comfort in something like this, but it is actually very reassuring to me. Every day I am constantly surrounded by people very sure of themselves, who wreak of confidence. This, of course, makes me even less confident than I already am. I don’t know what I am going to do: I have no idea which colleges to apply to, and I have no grand life plan. I am stumbling blindly in the dark, or so it seems. But, however prepared my peers seem to be, they are probably just as lost and scared as I am. So, I believe that no one really knows what hey are doing, and that we are all stumbling in the dark together. Perhaps we are all drifting uncertainly in the shadows of an old museum.