I really used to value the idea of 'knowing it all'.
I would pretend I knew things I didn't. I would feign understanding and miss out on more in depth explanations, just because I wanted to seem smart. I didn't realize in my early 20's that the smart thing to do was whatever it took to truly comprehend the subject: asking questions, studying, practicing, and being honest about your current know-how. So I was unnecessarily opinionated and blissfully ignorant of so much of the world. But my grades were good...
Now, I can't stop bubbling over with enthusiasm for the tiniest facts. Did you know lobsters are technically immortal? Did you know the most natural (and emotional) musical instrument is the human voice? Did you know humans are the only animals who cry tears? Did you know that no single linguistic accent is exactly the same--that every experience we go through, place we live in, and person we spend time with affects the way we speak in subtle ways?
I was stopped in my tracks today by a flower I've never seen before. California flora surprises me almost daily.
Enthusiastically curious people can be annoying, sure, but adopting curiosity as a value opens you up to much needed perspective beyond your daily mind function. Curiosity expands you. It helps you process who you really are and the purpose of your existence in the first place.
I feel like a lot of people in the world don't grow out of that stubborn opinion phase. They arrive in their 30's and just throw in the cerebral towel... "Well, that should do it. I think I've learned enough." How do you convince this type of person that they're missing out on so many pieces, that science is proving new things every day by trial and error, that creativity and technology and athleticism achieve new heights year after year, and that kids today are learning terms and equations they've never heard of? How do you explain the value of cross cultural conversation and collaboration to someone who has chosen a single culture (the one they're used to) as 'the right one'? You often can't. What you can do is stay curious, yourself. You can approach even your least favorite scenarios with more wonder than concrete assumption, and it can change your world for the better. Curiosity helps you navigate the world of the unknown with a little less fear and judgment and a little more open heartedness. Problems are more quickly solved by the collaboration of curious thinkers than the fearful who assume the worst.
When you feel afraid or hopeless, instead of fighting it off, see if you can sit with it, and just add a little curiosity to the mix. Why do I really feel this way? What can I learn from this moment? What might be on the other side of facing this fear as my authentic self? Who or what might assist me in this challenge?
This is a crazy time in our history as humans. We're living through a lot of events with uncertain outcomes, and uncovering some of our oldest, longest-ignored fears and insecurities. Those of us still in 'needing to know it all' mindset are struggling perhaps the most, attempting to maintain this impossible ruse of having all the right answers. But no one does. And you don't get to the true answers by insisting only on the information you've decided to be comfortable with. You get answers by wandering the unknown with your eyes and mind open to something new.