Nathan’s Notes: The power of ‘I don’t know’

Nathan’s Notes: The power of ‘I don’t know’

As a generally reserved person, being thrown into the mix in Revelstoke is probably the best thing that could have happened for me.

While I wouldn’t consider myself completely introverted, I have found at times my anxiety can get the best of me. Because of this, sometimes my choice to pursue journalism as a career feels like an odd one to make.

If I’m given too much time to think, I’ll often start second guessing myself – wondering if my credentials are up-to-snuff to cover a certain issue or interview a person of interest. More often than not, everything ends up to be fine, with my anxious nature at points pushing me to do that bit of extra research before following through.

The cliche of “Fake it until you make it” often comes to mind when I’m in this place of anxiety. However, I’ve found that’s not always the best policy.

Covering news for a town the size of Revelstoke, with a population that, in my experience thus far, is extremely engaged and educated on the issues that affect them, can be intimidating to say the least.

The fact that Revelstokians know the issues and hold hard stances has, at times, left me to attempt to posture as being at a similar level of knowledge, even when I’m lost.

Sure, Google helps with this, and when I’m lost on a certain topic after a conversation I can often take a mental note and browse the Wikipedia page later.

However, I’ve found recently there’s a lot of power in inviting explanation.

For this reason, one of the most effective responses I’ve found myself learning to embrace is: “I didn’t know that. Tell me more.”

In the age of information, there seems to be an expectation that others have found the same interest in topics as you have.

I’ve done it several times, musing about an obscure musician or movie I’ve come across without regard for how lost the other side of the conversation may be.

In these situations, it’s often intimidating to admit not knowing something that can seem like common knowledge. And quite honestly, sometimes that’s how the other side seems to react.

Though more often than not, people want to explain the things they’re passionate about.

In Revelstoke, this has often manifested itself in location-talk. With an outdoor-inclined community, landmarks often become conversational.

While my knowledge coming from Calgary encompassed a decent amount of the big ones – conversations about the Columbia River and Monashees didn’t leave me drawing a blank, more particular landmarks often did.

Lately, I’ve made a conscious effort to amend that.

When someone comments on a hike they just completed, I’ll ask the name of the trail and where to find it. When someone talks about a swimming hole they visited, I’ll try to build a mental map of where it is, though more often than not that effort comes up short.

Regardless of the outcome, the ability to say “I don’t know” has amplified my self-confidence as I traverse anxious times and uncertainty.

While going in as prepared as possible is never a bad approach, and faking it until you make can get you pretty far, admitting I didn’t know has opened up dialogue on topics I may have never found otherwise, which as a journalist is completely invaluable.