I am essentially a really annoying child, in an adult’s body. I ask “why?” a lot. For those of you who, like me, have an insatiable curiosity for how and why people do things, you may already know from experience that this is, at best, a trait that occasionally annoys others, and at worst, may have gotten you beat up or cost you a relationship on one or more occasions. I am here to tell you, your innate curiosity is a gift and you should make more effective use of it.
I have only recently begun to truly embrace and respect my own curiosity. In all honesty, it stems from a place of abject humility related to my own knowledge. I do know a lot, but what I know will always pale in comparison to that which I do not know. In the quest for more knowledge, I try not to make assumptions, I ask questions. I have one way of doing things, but I am constantly testing myself, to see if I can do it a little bit better next time. I am innately drawn to continuous improvement.
I have written before about cooking and recipes and not really following them. This is one of many manifestations of my curiosity. Of course I realize that my perspective on what constitutes a “better” outcome than before is also entirely subjective. That is another reason to ask a lot of questions. Even if I don’t have a dog in the race, I want to do the best I can for others and that requires others to give me honest, direct feedback about what they would like done differently next time (too much garlic, not enough acid) or else I will not have a direction for my improvements.
When I see someone doing something I don’t recognize or understand, most likely someone I know well and trust, I can’t help but ask them what they are doing. Depending on my precise phraseology and/or tone of voice and/or body language, this is generally taken some kind of way. My intentions are 100% guaranteed to be wholesome; maybe I want to change the way I do something, based on what I observe you doing, or I just want to learn about your perspective because I am not you and I cannot read your mind. However, most people, even those who are quite close to me, do not take my inquisition with the good will I intend.
My theory is that most people, probably nearly ALL people, do not, under most circumstances, ever really THINK about why they do things in some kind of way. Because they don’t think about EVERY LITTLE THING they do, they can be surprised and/or completely put off or even offended by the question, because they view it as a challenge. What can I say, people come with their own baggage. But they should not be given a free pass to assume others are executing their fears of having their vulnerability exposed when we genuinely curious folk are just trying to determine whether we have something to learn.
So if you are an acquaintance, a friend, a coworker, or even a family member of mine, please, I beg of you, let me be curious! I might have some knowledge to share with you that will help you later. Everyone is looking to get better, to improve themselves in their own way. We do the best we can with the resources we are blessed with, and my inner child has some questions for you.