None of us know anything, and that’s ok

By: Miranda Mowrey, Columnist

As I sit here and try to brainstorm what advice I should write about this week, I keep drawing blanks. Every time I feel like I am getting somewhere, I end up deleting whatever I have written and think to myself, “Well, what do I know?”

The advice that I give is usually advice that I am currently trying to make sense of and apply to my own life that week. Sometimes I take it, sometimes I ignore it; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Because the truth is, I have no idea what I am doing. I am a 21-year-old who has changed my major and minor multiple times, has had more jobs than I can count on both hands, and has made my fair share of mistakes and slip ups.

And even 20 years from now, when I will perhaps have a family of my own, one of those fancy wine cabinets filled with expensive bottled wine, and a mortgage to pay each month, chances are I will still have no clue what to make of this crazy world.

I am not the first person in history who doesn’t really know what they are doing. There were a bunch of people from the past that were really, really wrong about things. Did you know that in the 1700s, doctors actually believed that tobacco enemas could cure any illness? And at some point in time, people thought that California was an island, and in medieval Britain, most of society believed that evil spirits lived inside Brussel sprouts. Okay, maybe that one is true.

Take Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis, a Hungarian physician from the late 1800s, as an example. People thought he was crazy for suggesting that medical professionals wash their hands before working with patients. His theory was the laughing stock of the entire medical community and poor Semmelweis suffered a nervous breakdown and was admitted to an insane asylum as a result.

As humans, we are really good at formulating hypotheses and theories about things, but hypotheses and theories are disproven all the time. Especially in these uncertain times, the world we live in is full of millions of questions with no absolute answers. 

Who knows, maybe a year from now we will wake up from a dreamlike state, inside one of those weird pods from “The Matrix,” just to find out that this whole pandemic was just a weird simulation put on by the World Health Organization to teach everyone a lesson about washing their hands. Purely spit-balling here…I have given no thought to whatsoever.

To summarize, I am proposing that everything we know or believe, and the moral and academic foundation in which we base our entire identity on, may be false. Alternatively, maybe the only real, true fact of life is that nobody knows anything. 

Politicians, your parents, that wise old bartender who talked you through your break up – they are just humans who make mistakes and are sometimes wrong. What is there to do with this uncomfortable, slightly disturbing, information?

I say that we don’t take life so seriously. We laugh when we fail and celebrate when we succeed. And especially in times of quarantine, we should spend less time trying to figure everything out (newsflash: it is impossible) and more time going with the flow. Doing so will save our future selves a couple of wrinkles and gray hairs.

And lastly, let us lean into our own intuition a little bit more. We can learn two important lessons from Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis: stay true to what you believe without fear of what others think, and washing your hands is important.

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