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What Should We Talk About When We Talk About The “Unknown”?

We are talking about the uncomfortable gap between “so far” and “not yet”. The gap is often overlooked by the media. We mostly come to know famous people and their achievements when they are already… famous. Though we may have a glimpse of their journey, it is likely a shortcut version, a story of “once upon a time”.

We never know what they have been through and how they have felt until we experience it ourselves.

Do you remember those movies that fast forward to 5 years later, 10 years later? As a child, I always wondered what happened in those years? However, we, the audience, most likely are eager to know “So what?”, “What happens next?”. We don’t have the patience to sit through the repetitive days, through the trials and errors, the boring days. But considering movies, shortcuts like that make sense. What does not make sense here is expecting our journey to be full of continuous events, as the gap in between – like awkward silence, is uncomfortable.

The uncomfortable gap is real. The urge to skip this messy unknown is also real. It is even exaggerated in recent years with the outcome-focused culture and extended peer pressure being some of the supporting factors. It might be because of the heavy reliance on the outcome as a measure of success that leads to a stressful search for a guarantee. We are reluctant to begin a new journey if there isn’t a guarantee of success. However, as Seth Godin stated in his most recent book, The Practice, this search is “endless, fruitless, and the end of possibility, not the beginning”.

There’s much to talk about peer pressure in the digital era. We, humans, have a tendency to compare ourselves to others. The diverse and unrealistic models we compare ourselves to, the more miserable we become. It is what happens with us today, surrounding ourselves with constant updates from influencers, entrepreneurs of all kinds, on every possible channel.

However, this discomfort does not seem to be all bad. In a way, it is what pushes us towards, as we know what we still have work to do. In that unknown, we are curious, we are eager to know more, to learn more, to be less confused. And since nothing is fixed, anything is possible (sounds a bit cliché, but having cheesy stuff once in a while does not hurt at all).

As we are aware of and accept this unknown, we come to how to navigate through this gap.

Notice: please do not try this at home!

Navigating the unknown

The above dumb suggestions are extremely… dumb (though we believe in you, we recommend not trying those at home at all cost!). However, the extremes can give us valuable insights. In this case, these dumb methods suggest we navigate through the unknown by either taking a shortcut that is not suitable for us, or skipping the gap, or avoiding experiencing it. The result? We have not yet conducted any serious research, though we suppose by trying to skip the gap, these dumb ways would just widen it somehow.

…By Trying To Skip The Gap, These Dumb Ways Would Just Widen It Somehow.

Not-So-Dumb Takeaways

Please don’t mind our dumb ways to solve this problem. In fact, it is not a problem, to begin with. It happens all the time, in every journey. What not-so-dumb suggestion here is, shift your perspectives towards your intention, instead of the outcome. In that way, hopefully, the discomfort will be more comfortable.

Read more

Godin, S., The Practice: Shipping Creative Work (2020).

Nesi, J., Choukas Bradley, S., Prinstein, M., Transformation of Adolescent Peer Relations in the Social Media Context (2019).