On Being Sure

At some point in my early years, I came to the conclusion that adulthood would be the antithesis of childhood. That as an adult, feeding my small children in a pretty light blue smock and happily cleaning up their messes, I would not only know everything, but I would be sure of everything. I would have the mighty knowledge of all things.

If you think about it, it makes sense. We act sure for children. We give them the best answers we possibly can to all their big life questions, without blinking an eye. They ask about where the tooth fairy lives, we tell them. They ask how it’s possible that she can be so small and yet write with a human-size pencil and we explain that she has a itty-bitty pencil that she carries around with her to all her pillow appointments. We don’t stumble or falter in our answers. We are sure there isn’t a monster under the bed. We are just sure. Because of this, I grew up anxiously awaiting adulthood. What glee I would feel, I imagined, to have such knowledge. To wear that light blue smock and stir oatmeal and know things.


But, as my dad says: I want my money back. For the past month or so, I’ve flitted in and out of sureness. A friendly acquaintance at the coffee shop asked me recently, “how have you been?” and I felt my insides seize. I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure if I was good, I wasn’t sure if I was bad. I wasn’t even sure of the fact that I wasn’t sure. You could call it winter blues, or February, or being almost twenty five. When you’re sad or miserable, you’re at least sure of it. It is the surest thing you know. But when you’re not sure, what are you supposed to do with that?

Polly says it perfectly:

“Some of us move in ways that seem fated, pre-ordained, a slow but definitive march to glory. Others of us move like poor, wild things, running scared. We are unsure, but we’re still running. We will always be unsure. There is still hope for us. We might just make something beautiful, some day. We might just surprise ourselves. I choose to believe that. I choose to believe it, every single day.”

Do you ever feel this way? It’s bizarre!

8 thoughts on “On Being Sure

  1. Hi Joy! I totally hear you and often feel the same. Some say that this is a symptom of your twenties. Others tell me that it is just the natural ebb and flow of life. I personally think that these grey areas keep you wondering and curious about the present and the future.

  2. Ha. Yes. When I was younger, I was under the impression that moms know everything, and when I became a mother I would know everything too. I am still not a mother, but I have altered my theory a bit. I now realize that wisdom often comes with age, and while mothers don’t know everything, they have lived longer than their child and therefore know significantly more. But I like my knew theory better. How marvelous that we get still get to be learning! Even after becoming adults, or after, perhaps, becoming mothers. I like the idea of learning forever. Knowing everything seems either quite boring, or god-like. (neither of which, I am.)

  3. It is so comforting to see someone else talking about this. You put it very eloquently. I feel like adulthood (which really started after college, for me) is like a second adolescence. But it feels like an even stronger emotional whirlwind this time around because there’s a lot more at stake.

  4. I enjoyed this post! Reminds me of a Ricky Gervais quote, “The best advice I’ve ever received is, ‘No one else knows what they’re doing either.'” I just think the trick is finding that empowering rather than terrifying 🙂

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