As I perused my Facebook timeline to find photos from a skinnier and more athletic time in my life, it came across my mind to check my old MySpace account. I have some great pictures on there, I thought to myself.
During an obnoxious process of resetting my long-forgotten password — which I only got to after resetting the password to my long-forgotten email (aZn_Sp0rtz_ gurLxx or some embarrassing name like that) — I was asked the security question, “What is your favorite color?” I thought, easy, blue!
But alas, it was not so.
My complicated adolescent self had to write some obscure shade called “synthetic ultramarine.”
Finally, I made it into my MySpace account. Good grief, has that site changed since 2007. What I had come to learn after this educational excursion turned out to be a universal truth that we all already know … we were all once idiots.
I mean, I knew I was angsty at 16, but I thought I was a pretty cool kid overall. Boy, did my image of my past self drop 10 flights of stairs.
Who knows what I was thinking when I reposted the chain letter about the bloody 6-year-old with no legs hiding under your bed. It couldn’t possibly be because I actually believed he would come into my house and kill me if I didn’t repost it in 13 seconds. Of course not. And I couldn’t possibly have thought that reposting the I-love-Jesus-forward-this-only-if-you’re-a-true-believer bulletin would prove my undying faith and keep me from getting bad luck for seven years.
Oh, but I did.
And after I got over my initial shame, I concluded that everything was okay. I reminded myself that all of this was just a necessary part of life that everyone goes through. However, after that relief, I came to another realization — I’m still ignorant.
Everyone is. Our friends, our professors, Romney, Obama. If we combined the knowledge of every human being on earth, it would amount to an infinitesimal grain of stardust compared to the vastness of all existence. We only inhabit this moment of time and space that we call the present, but really there’s everything that came before and everything that will come after us, and of these matters, we have little knowledge.
We know so little, yet we are naturally inclined to feel that our perspective of the world is the correct one and that the way we do things is the way that makes the most sense — true objectivity has never been mankind’s strong suite.
But this kind of ignorance is not completely bad.
In fact, our brains would probably explode if we tried to comprehend everything in existence.
The good news is that our perpetual state of unknowing drives us to keep growing, keep striving and keep moving forward. It’s how we were designed — to go through this natural undulation of peaks and troughs, cycles of feeling like we’re on top of the world followed by feeling like the weight of the world is on our shoulders.
It’s how we stay confident in ourselves yet are simultaneously humbled so that our pride doesn’t swell and go unchecked. Not knowing everything gives us the drive to continue learning and working toward a goal, yet it also reminds us to stop occasionally and appreciate the flowers that we know won’t be there forever.
It’s how we’re able to look back at our old selves and see how far we’ve come, how we’ve grown from dorky teenagers to more mature college students. It’s because of this ignorance, this unknowing, that we are able to look to the past with a clearer vision of who we are and also work toward the future with hope that we will become better versions of our present selves.
So, MySpace, thank you for being with us in our early years and providing us a window into our past — even though some of us would rather forget the pictures of our terrible bright red lipstick phase when we thought we looked so hot. Facebook, good job recording the present and connecting us with friends and family around the world.
To whoever’s next in line, I hope you can fill some pretty big shoes.
JHUNEHL FORTALEZA is embarrassed to still have a MySpace. Tell her your social network woes at email@example.com.