“To know that you do not know is the best.
To think you know when you do not is a disease.
Recognizing this disease as a disease is to be free of it.”
- Lao Tzu
There are a lot of words related to the term "naive": ignorant, innocent, callow, simple, the list of synonyms goes on. The theme of these words having a slightly negative twist on them, almost implying stupidity. I view the word in a more positive light, as in there's a chance to gain knowledge and save yourself from credulousness.
The realization of my own naiveté hit me last night in a strange way. It was past nine or ten when I went out with some friends to pick up a pizza. With thirty minutes to kill, we did the obvious thing and stepped into a department store to look around and goof off like the frivolous college students we are. Glancing at price tags and trying on coats I became acutely aware of how cold I felt. It was 40° outside and the only thing I had on was a pair of short boots and a mid length sweater dress that did not do the job of keeping me warm like sweaters are supposed to do. With a future of declining temperatures, I rationalized whether or not I should bite the bullet and purchase the coat I was trying on. In three days I'd be back home and able to pick up some of the clothing I already owned that was made for winter. Doing the checklist in my head though, the entirety of my winter wardrobe is a single heavy jacket made for annual ski trips, not an everyday coat. Thus, to the cashier I went, slightly bewildered by my ill-preparedness for the season.
Obviously, this is not some life-changing tale. I easily could've waited 72 hours and had my mom or dad take me to the store and buy a coat or something of that nature. There was no extreme urgency, no real penalty for either action, buying a jacket or not. There was just this strange feeling that washed over me when I found out that with all the preparations and plans I made over the summer for college, I made the crucial mistake of not thinking about the daily chill of wintertime.
I've lived on the South Carolina coast for the past 15 years or so. Most all of my developmental years were spent beach side. Though I was born in Pennsylvania, a fact I'm very proud to admit, I'm used to temperatures not dropping below 35° or so. I'm ready only to getting cold while visiting family and friends up north or going to the mountains for a two-day ski weekend, not to move upstate where there's a chance of actual snow during the week. Basically, I couldn't imagine living outside of the scope I grew up in: sun, heat, and sand.
This applies to all points of my life. My race, gender, sexuality, and social class puts a skewed outlook on my world. I've had times where there's something I've really want but knew I couldn't afford without working, but there's also been times when I didn't tear myself apart over what groceries to buy, or if I had clipped enough coupons to cover my needs. I've never had a racist comment slung at me, never felt like I was being judged for the color of my skin. There's so little in the world I've experienced compared to what other people put up with daily.
I am ignorant in many ways in the world. I am naive to the lives of so many people who live maybe just down the road from me. And I'm not the only one with this lack of knowledge. There are people younger and older than me who go on with their lives, never considering how they have chances and abilities that some others might only dream of. There's also extremely blessed people who use their life advantages to help others instead of just themselves.
It's important to put yourself in the life of another. Not just in the "walk a mile in my shoes" kind of way, but actually seriously consider how different your life could be if you had one major aspect change. Would you face discrimination or catcalls or even just judgmental looks?
Comedian Chelsea Peretti in her special "One of the Greats" makes a joke about how life is different for guys versus girls just from confidence alone.
"I just want to feel what it feels like to have male confidence(...) My fantasy of what it's like to be a guy is just that you wake up in the morning, and your eyes open, and you're just like, "I'M AWESOME! People probably want to hear what I have to say!" I mean, does that sound about accurate?"
Obviously this is a bit of a hyperbole, but at the same time I know what she's talking about. There's been times when I've been in a deep discussion or adding an important note to conversation when I've been cut off by a guy being louder than me. It feels like my contribution isn't taken seriously. Now, not all men are like that, I know. There's stereotypes on everyone about everything that are fought through all the time. I'm stating the reason Peretti's joke is so funny is due to its relatability with so many women.
With all the changes in the nation lately, it's important to pay attention to what's going on. You may not approve of the Black Lives Matter movement, but instead of just yelling "All lives matter!" back, take a second to think about why these protests are happening, what the foundation of it all is, then respond however you please. Now, that's just an extremely current event I'm using as an example. There's plenty of other worldly events happening that you can try to picture yourself in to better understand why people react the way they do.
Open your mind up to what's going on in the world. Read articles from opposing sides. Watch a documentary on a controversial subject. Enter into views unknown to you and take a deep breath.
It's time for us all to try something new.