Have you ever been so sure of something that although you soon realize you are wrong, you don’t want to admit you are wrong just because you have been so sure all along and admitting you are wrong now will make you look like a gargantuan dimwit and hence you just continue to be sure?
Briefly, are you someone who is sure, 101%, every time?
I believed sleeping less meant I was being more productive. Sleeping for anything over 6 hours was unacceptable to me. However, every time I slept for 6 hours or less, I got little done, ended by slobbering over my keyboard and oozed the crankiness of a very hungry child forced to wear a sweater.
But, the times I slept for 8 hours, I was a productive red bull. Yet every day that I slept for 8 hours, I would wake up feeling bad I was wasting my life –that I lost two hours of my life I will never get back – that ‘successful’ people don’t sleep for 8 hours. So, day after day, I decided my worth based on how much I slept. For 5 years.
There’s something called “you are kidding right!” gap. Or, that’s what I would like it to be called. It’s a gap that is the distance between your certainty and reality. In the case of my calibrated slumber, that gap was wide enough to build a really long bridge. In your case, it may be a small plank or 40 such bridges.
Of course, there are gaps so wide that they become the ‘are you alright?’ gap. These gaps start cults. These are the people who were certain that the world was going to end that they killed themselves rather than face a reality that could possibly destroy their certainty.
The gap that certainty creates over time is insidious. Remember the time you went around telling everyone you are sure you saw a tiger in your closet and you became angry at everyone who didn’t believe you? You can’t do that for long because the shield of naiveté won’t protect you.
As you grow older, you will begin to tell more tiger stories. To yourelf. And some people you meet will say they saw a tiger in their closet too. So, you start rituals where you roar every time you meet one another until someone comes by and says: ‘you are kidding right?’
I have the ‘you are kidding right!’ moments with my Dad very often. My Dad will say things like: “these Google maps are cheating you. They show you longer routes because that’s how Google makes money.” I look at him to see if he’s kidding, but he seems very sure of what he just said. So, I try to explain to him how GPS works.
Before long, the Uber driver sees an argument ensue and jumps in with: “Sir, your father is right. These maps fellows are very bad. They switch it off whenever they want and add things to confuse us.” It’s two on one now and I am closing my eyes and counting to One Lakh Fifty-Seven Thousand Three Hundred and Forty-Three.
Anyway, we get stuck in traffic and get delayed by 25 minutes. Naturally, that makes me want to say: ‘mwahahahahahaha, you suckers! this is why you should just follow the freaking map!’
This brings me to certainty at its worst behavior: certainty in relationships.
In relationships, certainty leads to all kind of crazy talk and argument. Both of you are so sure that you are right and the other is a total dumbass. What starts out as an argument over the pronunciation of the word ‘buffet’ eventually leads to you pointing out every mistake the other person has made in the last six years and soon the argument turns ad hominem. The certainty gap bores a large hole in relationships.
Certainty is stronger in relationships because it’s one place where you don’t want to admit you are wrong. That’s weak. So, we argue about the correctness of the most insignificantly mundane unworthy crap. It’s like trying to win an argument about how big a loser you are.
And I have done that.
I have got into argument after another with Dad trying to prove to him why he is wrong. My Dad’s response: okay, I was wrong about that. As certain as he is about a few things, he’s got this annoyingly notable ability to admitting he is wrong and move on to discuss other important things. As I sit there closing the 18 Google links I opened up.
Sometimes, my Dad’s on the other side exposing my certain-dumbassery. And I wish I could as easily admit to being wrong. But, instead, I am trying to look for some evidence to back me up on the 8th page of Google. Maybe these Google fellows haven’t added what I am looking for yet!
Someday, I may have a kid who’ll come and tell me about the Tiger in his/her closet. I can’t say what a dumb kid I have and educate him/her on psychiatric confabulations. I will have to work with him/her on doing something about the Tiger. Because that’s what people do in relationships. They ask: “are you sure it wasn’t a lion?” But, this is precisely what we fail to do this as we grow older.
As I am growing older, I am becoming surer. More certain of everything. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to admit I am wrong. Not just to Dad or friends. Even to myself. It’s never easy to admit you have been wrong for most of your life. But, that’s reality breathing down on us.
It’s the painful part of growth we procrastinate on until someone comes by and says: “just shut up get some sleep, you fool!” But, some of us ignore that well until a point when certainty is so far away from reality that we feel it’s easier to stay certain than watch our beliefs burst into a million little pieces.
I am 101.11% sure about that.