"I know that I know nothing" - Socrates
“The older I grow, the lesser I know”

I have written this blog in 2016. Who would have known that 6 years later I would be sharing it on my peer-learning start-up website.
Learning from people is in my DNA.

Here is what I wrote.


I celebrated a few weeks ago the 39th year of my life. By the way, to the million people who suffer the 40-year-old sickness syndrome, it did not feel like the end of the world or something similar yet!.

Among all the lovely wishes and endless emoticons, one exchange with a dear friend of mine got me in a swirl of thoughts and questions!!!
He says: “The older you grow the more confused you get ”.

What a relief!  It is exactly how I felt.

Wohooo!!! I am not the only one who is feeling this way ( After all,  I can’t be THAT unique).
For the past five years, I have been feeling this exponential growth of confusion. I was even doubting a premature middle-age crisis.
(Honestly,  I didn’t picture it this way though.  I thought it should involve Harleys, Porsche, Yacht, private jets and bling bling outfits! )

In the past few living years, in my tornado of thoughts and reflections, I have definitely witnessed a lot more than I have anticipated I will.

How or Why?

If you ever google “curiosity”, I probably match its definition across themes, topics, cultures, and contexts.  For some reason, I have an interest in a broad spectrum of unrelated matters (from my neighbor’s yesterday dinner to  Obama’s climate plan for 2015 ).

Out of interest (or curiosity), I tend to adopt a few strategies for learning :

– Create experiential opportunities for myself,
– Embrace experiences life throws on my lap,
– Live experiences through other people’s stories

People's stories have always been the most versatile platform for learning. It is friendly individuals, I cross on the bus, on the plane, on a cruise, in a new place, anywhere we can strike a conversation (including public washrooms! )

I have been lucky enough during my 39 years to come across deep souls, willing to be authentic, share their perspectives and the definitions they refined from their own experiences. I was always impressed by the self-confidence and integrity that shine through their vulnerability and authenticity.

Interestingly enough, many of these interactions have been with people from all walks of life. Deep conversations are not exclusive to my closest friends, my brothers, my cousins, or my in-laws.

Having grown in a conservative family and society, the stages of life were very clear:

You are born,
You walk,
You talk,
You go to school,
You go to university (preferably to be a doctor, engineer or lawyer),
You meet your partner,
You marry,
You have kids,
You raise your kids while making a career,
You retire,
You die.

(In my family, you then, go to heaven! considering you have been good at delivering on all the above)

You probably can’t argue that the sequence is right with some degree of variation.
At least, I am sure, we agree on the starting and ending points. (Can’t imagine dying before being born! That would really suck!).

Between the start and the end, your definitions change and evolve from what you learn, what you see, and what you hear. A new outlook is shaped and new perspectives bring in sometimes as many questions as answers. Let’s take religion, marriage, friendships, and careers…. I can’t think of one topic that doesn’t branch into zillions others.

Young, I had a simplified version of all these topics (the headlines). Life seemed containable and understandable in a way (a bit like a zoomed-out google map). The closer you zoom in, the more complex the network becomes, and an endless number of ways to reach the same destination.

Every question you ask, is a closer step to complexity and every answer you get, will most probably lead to another question. “Ainsi de suite”, the circle of curiosity goes on and on and on……stirring a big “C” (or sea) of Confusion, in which we drown.

Caroline Assaf - Founding Director
15+ years of global and multi-sectoral management experience in corporate, nonprofit, and public sectors. Caroline is the founder and director of Coco World and is responsible for implementing the startup’s vision and leading the business development and fundraising strategies.

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