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March 12, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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Things You Already Know But Just Need To Be Told

You’re an idiot. But that’s okay because everyone else is one too.

We get so attached to our ideas and beliefs. They sit inside our head, right inside us, just behind our eyes. They are part of us. That’s why it’s so hard to take criticism. When someone picks at your ideas or thoughts or opinions, it’s not just abstract knots of thinking that they’re dissecting, it’s you.

Every time someone knocks an obvious hole in something you’ve said it hurts. It hurts because, well, you feel like you’re an idiot. Because you are an idiot, but you already know that. You just need to remember that that’s okay because everyone else is one too.

You have to own your ignorance just as you own your areas of expertise. Admitting that you are wrong is hard. But it has to be done. No one worth listening to is going to look down on you if you just say “You’re right” or “I didn’t know that.” Yes, there are scumbags out there who will see it as a sign of weakness and hold it over you.

This is, of course, most obvious in arguments or debates, but if you’re trying to argue a point with someone who immediate writes off your whole argument because you concede one detail, then you’re not going to get anywhere anyway, so you might as well just consider them a lost cause from the outset. Also, if you are one of those people, you really need to think about the deep vortex of insecurities within yourself that has lead you to the point where you feel someone admitting their fallibility is something that should be held over them.

None of this is to say that you should just roll over and absorb all backtalk that talks back to you, you just have to develop a better set of skills to deal with and accept it than just saying either ‘I’ll think about that’ (because of course you will, you are a conscious being, you can’t help but think about things) or just saying ‘Yeah’ and filing the feedback under things to burn the sleep out of your brain at 3.20am.

You have to trust your thoughts but part of that has to be trusting them to stand up to examination. Reassessing your beliefs and opinions based on new and better information (well-sourced information, that is) is a practice that not nearly enough people have developed. We owe it to ourselves to learn it not just for the sake of our own intellectual rigour but to improve the terms on which we interact with the world.

You do not know everything. No one does. In fact, when put in any kind of perspective, you know basically nothing. This will only ever be a bad thing if you try to deny it. Don’t worry, you will still be you if you change your mind on something. I promise.

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About the Author ()

Uther was one of the two arts editors in 2009. He was the horoscopier and theatre writer in 2010. Alongside Elle Hunt, Uther was coeditor in 2011.

Comments (1)

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  1. Will says:

    Awesome column Uther, really loving what you are doing this year.

    Very perceptive words.

    From, a fellow idiot.

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