'I Don't Know' Is Sometimes The Smartest Thing You Can Say

'I Don't Know' Is Sometimes The Smartest Thing You Can Say

I personally started saying "I don't know" because of how often I was wrong.


One famous Shakespeare quote says that "a fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool," but I'm not going to lie - reading that headline made me feel like I lacked a little backbone. Maybe I do. Who knows. But one thing I've started to realize, the more I've grown up, is how much I don't know, whether it's about the world, or about other people.

My belief systems have evolved, but they have not dismantled. What I've realized, however, is that it's incredibly hard to learn when you think you know everything. I take a lot of stock in bottom-up stories instead of top-down ones that use a lot of labels, so one story written by someone named Robert Galbreath on The Guardian struck a chord with me for the past two years. Robert worked at Walmart as a temporary job before he got hired by a non-profit or got his manuscript published by Random House.

He never did - he ended up working at Walmart for nine years making $6.40 an hour, much to the dismay of his younger self. His great fear, working at Walmart, was becoming a "lifer," someone who worked at Walmart for most of their lives.

The article starts with a compelling line: "'You don't know shit!' is a hard lesson to swallow, but it was one of the first things I learned." The author learned this lesson when working with a co-worker named Nathan, a "lifer" and a "right-wing nut" whose political beliefs did not align at all with the audience of the article. Nathan believed that any federal intervention into his life was "communism," that any idea of foreign policy was to "blast the Middle East into one big, gleaming sheet of glass."

For Robert, myself, and the overall audience of The Guardian, these are views that we abhor. But when Nathan grew up, his parents passed away, leaving him with crippling property taxes and a mortgage on the family property. That meant he never got to go to college and worked for a while in a local lumber factory.

One day, Nathan and Robert had to move pallets from the truck to different sections of the store, and I've worked at Walmart for a summer, so let me tell you that the pallet jack is one of the most impossible things to maneuver in the world. Nathan and Robert have a major disagreement about how to move the pallet, and Robert was hellbent that he was right and that he knew what he was doing. Nathan screamed back at him:

"You don't know shit!"

Immediately, Robert threatened to report Nathan to the manager, but a box of grape juice falls on Robert as he slips and falls on his face, his pants are soaked, and his pride is deeply wounded. Even though the two had been arguing, Nathan helps him up, asks if he's OK, and never says a word of the embarrassing incident to anyone else.

"Over the years, I learned that Nathan was quick to forgive, and would drop everything to assist anyone who needed help. Despite his not-so-politically-correct, rightwing remarks and jokes, Nathan greeted and talked to everyone he encountered with genuine respect and kindness, regardless of that person's age, gender, or ethnicity."

I've written about this before as to why I stopped talking politics, and I've used almost the same description of the article in this shameless attempt at self-plagiarism. But the article struck a chord with me because of that mantra - "You don't know shit." That will not be a mantra I'll ever impose on other people, but it is one that I've said to myself whenever I'm trying to learn something or study - how can you really learn when you know everything?

Saying "I don't know" is sometimes the smartest thing you can do because you become more open and malleable. When I'm at work or in a simple conversation, saying "I don't know" encourages other people to speak up and voice their opinions. I've learned that listening, rather than doing all the talking, is profoundly more rewarding the majority of the time. I had an English class that was the most challenging, yet rewarding class I've had in college where my professor flat out did very little of the talking and challenged us in a seminar-like classroom by playing Devil's advocate. To this day, I have no idea where he stands on certain issues in the class, or what he really believes. His job was to teach us, not impose his views on us, and at the end of the day, that's what he did more than any other professor I've had.

Saying "I don't know" admits a certain vulnerability about yourself, an uncertainty about how you're going to navigate the next thing you do. I personally started doing it because of how often I was wrong : a lot of the people I made preconceived notions of in college ended up changing my life. A friend I initially thought was too scathing and abrasive ended up changing my career plans, while another friend I initially thought was a "Bible freak" ended up putting me on the path to change my religion.

Francesco De Marco Photography on Instagram: “Angolo di Campo Imperatore che sembrano usciti dai libri di favole. #abruzzo #francescodemarcophotography . . . . . #500px…”

It would be a lie for me to say that I don't know anything, or you don't know anything. We're all right about a lot of things. But that's not the point, or even the most important thing at the end of the day. Saying "I don't know" is more of a mindset to keep yourself vulnerable and open-minded about the world, about your future. It's a way of keeping humility, patience, and respect, because what saying "I don't know" also does is that it forces you to wait before you make a judgment about someone, and a lot of the times, you'll learn something about the person that flies in the face of that judgment you were about to make.

What do you call someone like me, who openly admits that I don't know shit? Am I people pleaser? Yeah, I think so. But that doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. The more I say that to myself, the more I can step back and actually learn, because God knows I have more than enough of that to do.

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35 Major Life Facts According To Nick Miller

"All booze is good booze, unless it's weak booze."

Fact: If you watch "New Girl," you love Nick Miller.

You can't help it. He's an adorable, lovable mess of a man and you look forward to seeing him and his shenanigans each week. While living the infamous and incomparable life of Nick Miller, and obviously Julius Pepperwood— he has learned many valuable laws of the land. And, although Nick refuses to learn anything from anyone besides his mysterious, old Asian friend Tran, he does have a few lessons he'd like to teach us.

Here are 35 facts of life according to 'Nick Milla Nick Milla':

1. Drinking keeps you healthy.

"I'm not gonna get sick. No germ can live in a body that is 65% beer."

2. Dinosaurs never existed.

"I don't believe dinosaurs existed. I've seen the science. I don't believe it."

3. A paper bag is a bank.

"A bank is just a paper bag but with fancier walls."

4. Having sex is similar to delivering mail.

"I'm like a mailman, except instead of mail it's hot sex that I deliver."

5. Moonwalking is a foolproof way to get out of any awkward situation.

Jess (about Nick): "Now he won't even talk to me. I saw him this morning and he just panic moonwalked away from me. He does that sometimes."

6. Using a movie reference is also a great way.

Cece: "Come on, get up!"

Nick: "No, I don't dance. I'm from that town in "Footloose."

7. There's no reason to wash towels.

Nick: "I don’t wash the towel. The towel washes me. Who washes a towel?"

Schmidt: "You never wash your towel?"

Nick: "What am I gonna do? Wash the shower next? Wash a bar of soap?"

8. Exes are meant to be avoided at all costs (especially if/unless they're Caroline)

"I don't deal with exes, they're part of the past. You burn them swiftly and you give their ashes to Poseidon."

9. IKEA furniture is not as intimidating as it looks.

"I'm building you the dresser. I love this stuff. It's like high-stakes LEGOs."

10. You don't need forks if you have hands.

Jess: "That's gross. Get a fork, man."

Nick: "I got two perfectly good forks at the end of my arms!"

11. Sex has a very specific definition.

"It's not sex until you put the straw in the coconut."

12. Doors are frustrating.

"I will push if I want to push! Come on! I hate doors!"

13. All booze is good booze.

"Can I get an alcohol?"

14. ...unless it's weak booze.

"Schmidt, that is melon flavored liquor! That is 4-proof! That is safe to drink while you're pregnant!"

15. Writers are like pregnant women.

Jess: "You know what that sound is? It's the sound of an empty uterus."

Nick: "I can top that easily. I'm having a hard time with my zombie novel."

Jess: "Are you really comparing a zombie novel to my ability to create life?"

Nick: "I'm a writer, Jess. We create life."

16. All bets must be honored.

"There is something serious I have to tell you about the future. The name of my first-born child needs to be Reginald VelJohnson. I lost a bet to Schmidt."

17. Adele's voice is like a combination of Fergie and Jesus.

"Adele is amazing."

18. Beyoncé is extremely trustworthy.

"I'd trust Beyoncé with my life. We be all night."

19. Fish, on the other hand, are not.

“Absolutely not. You know I don’t trust fish! They breathe water. That's crazy!"

20. Bar mitzvahs are terrifying.

Schmidt: "It's a bar mitzvah!"

Nick: "I am NOT watching a kid get circumcised!"

21. ...so are blueberries.

Jess: "So far, Nick Miller's list of fears is sharks, tap water, real relationships..."

Nick: "And blueberries."

22. Take your time with difficult decisions. Don't be rash.

Jess: "You care about your burritos more than my children, Nick?"

Nick: "You're putting me in a tough spot!"

23. Getting into shape is not easy.

"I mean, I’m not doing squats or anything. I’m trying to eat less donuts."

24. We aren't meant to talk about our feelings.

"If we needed to talk about feelings, they would be called talkings."

25. We're all a little bit too hard on ourselves.

"The enemy is the inner me."

26. Freezing your underwear is a good way to cool off.

"Trust me, I'm wearing frozen underpants right now and I feel amazing. I'm gonna grab some old underpants and put a pair into the freezer for each of you."

27. Public nudity is normal.

"Everbody has been flashed countless times."

28. Alcohol is a cure-all.

"You treat an outside wound with rubbing alcohol. You treat an inside wound with drinking alcohol."

29. Horses are aliens.

"I believe horses are from outer-space."

30. Turtles should actually be called 'shell-beavers.'

Jess: "He calls turtles 'shell-beavers."

Nick: "Well, that's what they should be called."

31. Trench coats are hot.

"This coat has clean lines and pockets that don't quit, and it has room for your hips. And, when I wear it, I feel hot to trot!"

32. Sparkles are too.

"Now, my final bit of advice, and don't get sensitive on this, but you've got to change that top it's terrible and you've got to throw sparkles on. Sparkles are in. SPARKLES ARE IN."

33. Introspection can lead to a deeper knowing of oneself.

"I'm not convinced I know how to read. I've just memorized a lot of words."

34. It's important to live in the moment.

"I know this isn't gonna end well but the middle part is gonna be awesome."

35. Drinking makes you cooler.

Jess: "Drinking to be cool, Nick? That's not a real thing."

Nick: "That's the only thing in the world I know to be true."

Cover Image Credit: Hollywood Reporter

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6 Ways To Decorate Your Dorm Or Apartment For The Holidays On A Budget

Baby, it's cold outside.


As the holiday season approaches, it's easy to get sucked into the Pinterest vortex of holiday decorations, party favors, clothes and more. Unfortunately most of us college students don't have the money for all of this cute stuff so we have to watch for bargains or DIY it. Here are my six recommendations to get into the Christmas spirit:

1. String some festive lights in your room


I have Christmas lights hanging up in my room all year around because I love them so much, but you can find some cheap lights at Target or Walmart. You can get snowflake lights, lantern lights, normal Christmas lights or anything else that you want. Use command strips to hang them up, and soon it'll feel more relaxing and you'll be more in the Christmas spirit.

2. Use window clings


I love window clings! You stick them on from the inside (obviously) and then you can see them from the outside. I have different window clings for almost every season. If you have some old window clings that don't stick anymore, just put a little bit of water on the back of them and they'll stick like they're brand new.

3. Raid the Target dollar section


So, this depends on where you live and how often your local Target changes out their dollar section, but you would be surprised in what you could find there!

4. Hunt around for a mini tree (real or fake)


I used to have a fake little green Christmas tree with cute little ornaments but sadly I don't have it anymore nor do I have room for it anywhere in my room. A little Christmas tree in your room or on your dresser just makes everything a little bit more festive. I used to have my little Christmas tree on my dresser until my cat found it. Yeah, you know where that is going.

5. Make easy DIY decorations


Pinterest is the best website for this, well actually they're known for DIY projects. Why spend $50 on one Christmas decoration when you can do a DIY and spend only $20?

6. Use Winter themed candles


I love Bath and Body works because they always have the best sales and you can usually get something half priced or sometimes something for free! Plus everything smells so good in that store and it's so tempting to buy everything but if you come into the store with a goal, you'll leave with your goal.

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