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day 3: general existential discomfort

There’s this thing called the Dunning-Kruger effect, which is a the long name that psychologists gave to the unfortunate reality that so often people who are uneducated and incompetent are usually too uneducated and incompetent to realize that they are, in fact, uneducated and incompetent.

If this post was about politics, this is where I would talk about how some Presidential candidates are fantastic examples of this phenomenon, blustering and bragging about their tremendous skills and huge plans and never realizing that they are too stupid to realize they are stupid.

But this is not about politics.

If you know me at all, you know by now that this is about angst and self-doubt and spiritual questioning and general existential discomfort.

I’ve recently been increasingly aware of this design flaw in the system. And by “the system” I mean our whole entire human existence. Not only when watching uneducated and incompetent people argue about politics on Facebook, but also when I’m pouring out my weekly collection of fears and worries in my therapists office.

It usually goes something like this:

“How do I know if I’m a good parent? I’m doing my best, but it’s hard to tell.”


“I hear a lot of people talk about how other people are narcissists and manipulators. How do I know I’m not one of them?”


“I worry a lot that I’m not going to live a meaningful life. How do I know whether or not I am?

And she always tells me the same thing: the fact that I’m asking at all is a clue that I’m on the right track.

She says that only good parents wonder if they’re good parents, and that narcissists don’t tend to ask whether or not they’re narcissists, and that people who worry about living meaningful lives tend to pay attention and do the work required to live a meaningful life.

So there’s some comfort in that, I suppose.

Still, it seems like whoever set up the human experience got some things backwards.

Why should we be plagued with doubt when we’re actually on the path to a good and meaningful life, and so blusteringly self-confident when we are profoundly full of shit?



This blog post is part of #write31days. This year I’m skipping out on a theme and going with ten minutes of unedited free-writing every day (unless I don’t feel like it, let’s be honest). You can read more posts from my #write31days by clicking here.

published October 4, 2016

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