Uncovering Ignorance

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

October 6, 2022

When I was a teenager, I knew everything. In fact, I knew more about life then than I do now. The beauty of my adolescence was that my world was small. Sure, I knew how to navigate the small world I was living in. I may not have had the capacity to see the intricacies of the larger world. But I didn’t have to. I was able to wake up each day and successfully operate in the world I knew.

As I grew-up, made mistakes, and learned from them, I soon began to realize there was much of the world I didn’t know. It wasn’t that I was woefully ignorant, it’s just the world is so vast. And with such a vast world, it’s impossible to know everything. Even if I lived to be 100 years old and read 100 books a year, I still wouldn’t possibly be able to know everything. Once I realized and accepted that I’d never know everything, I began to listen to others with a deeper curiosity. Other people have done research I never will. Other people have read books I never will. And other people have had conversations I never had.

Nevertheless, I, too, have knowledge in my being that other folks will never know. I have lived experience other people will never know. I’ve read a combination of books other people have never read. And while I may not know everything, I do know quite a bit.

As Jeannette Walls wrote in The Glass Castle, “I began to feel like I was getting the full story for the first time, that I was being handed the missing pieces to the puzzle, and the world was making a little more sense.” When I read that line, it stopped me in my tracks. That’s my experience of life. If I can experience that sensation multiple times in my life, I’m doing it right.  

Some people may call it an epiphany. But I prefer to frame it as uncovering my ignorance. The knowledge is out there and more accessible than ever before.

And while I may never again know everything, I’m ready to learn as much as I can.