I’m not young enough to know everything

I came across this quote earlier today, while researching about the expert’s fallacy and how all of us are subject to it.

First I thought the quote was from Oscar Wilde, the Irish writer, as it is attributed to him very much often. But what do I know? I fell for the same fallacy and ended up finding out it’s actually a quote from J. M. Barrie, the English playwright behind the wonderful Peter Pan.

As someone deeply interested in — but almost completely new to — the subject of lifelong learning, I saw this sentence as completely fit to the theme. It is now side by side with my (other) favorite quote to date, from René Descartes, French mathematician who said “I would give everything I know for half of what I ignore”.

Young people — or anyone new to a subject or activity, actually — tend to assume a position of confidence in knowing “all” about that subject, or, at least, knowing more than they actually know about it. Only as we grow older, or more experienced and move from beginners to experts in our careers, do we tend to admit that we don’t know — and couldn’t ever be able to know — everything there is to know.

And this is what I found is so brilliant about the quote which titles this text. It’s an advice to all of us who are aware of not knowing everything. It is an advice to keep humble, to keep in mind there will always be oceans of knowledge to sail, and to keep learning.