On Being Human: No One Has All the Answers

I don’t have all the answers.

I am not an enlightened guru who is incapable of getting pissed off or being judgmental. I am not one of those eternally smiling people who “chose to be happy” and poof! became happy. I am not a high-flying neo-Jesus of the Internet screaming “FOLLOW ME TO THE PROMISED LAND, Y’ALL!” (although someone should go be that).

I don’t want you to think I’m any of those things. Yes, I write a blog where I speculate about all sorts of rather heavy subjects — why we’re here, what we’re doing, what we ought to be doing, how we might go about finding peace and satisfaction, etc.


Honest Light, Honest Shadow

And don’t get me wrong — I wouldn’t bother sharing my ideas with all of you if I didn’t think I had worthwhile things to say. I’m passionately interested in philosophy and the human experience. I love being able to dispense my thoughts for the betterment of the readers of this site, the human race, and myself.

I really do think we should all try to open our minds and be kinder to one another. I do think many of our societies’ norms and paradigms are fundamentally f***ed up and need to be challenged.

I Want to Be as Honest as Possible

But sometimes I feel like I’m not being entirely transparent. See, I contain all sorts of ideas, and I write about them confidently, and I believe in them most of the time. But I don’t always live up to them. And sometimes, I don’t even feel like trying to live up to them.

Because as I’m sure many of you understand, it’s hard to grow. It’s hard to be a good person, to be compassionate, to be disciplined, to stay motivated, to do what you love to do. It’s difficult to be one person and to believe that you can make a difference in the world. It’s overwhelming.

It’s damn easy to be complacent, to seek instant gratification, to skate by, to be selfish and apathetic. And I am all of those things, some of the time.

What I write about on this blog often reflects the highest side of me — my ideal self — the side that I reach for when I’m clear-headed, optimistic, and inspired. I understand that a few and perhaps many of you respect what I write and have been influenced by my messages. If that’s the case, that’s unequivocally awesome. I’m so grateful that my words can resonate with you and support you in some way. That is, of course, my aim.

But I guess what I’m trying to say, what I want to make abundantly clear, is this: I am not better than you. I am not different from you. I am not perfect.

I am an eccentric, inconsistent, confused, and somewhat fractured human being who hates getting out of bed and has spontaneous urges to climb trees.

I’m the fool who enjoys having a few (sometimes a few too many) drinks with friends and laughing the night away over inappropriate jokes. I’m the romantic who falls for women far too hard and fast and tends to get his heart smashed to specks. I’m the scatterbrain whose most reliable talent often seems to be his ability to lose his every belonging.

Most recently, I’m a 22-year-old man-kid trying to come to terms with a new life in South Korea, half a world away from my home. And I’m not afraid to admit that it isn’t all cherry blossoms, orgasms, and fairy dust, this moving-to-a-new-country thing.

Yes, much of what has happened to me here has been amazing. The new sights, sounds, smells, people, students, food — truly, much has been grand. But some of it has left me feeling flustered, baffled, incompetent, irritated, and alienated.

I expected difficulties, but I think a part of me had the hubris to believe that I was above the day-to-day frustrations, that I’d cultivated a bulletproof go-with-the-flow disposition, that everything would be like chocolate fountains and Narnia.

Well, I can say now that it certainly is not. But that’s okay. Because if it were, it wouldn’t be reality, but some fantasy world. It wouldn’t be life, and I wouldn’t be my oh-so-human self.

Moving to Korea has forced me to realize once more a few things I thought I knew: that reality will forever defy expectation, that new challenges will always arise, and that personal growth is a never-ending process. 

It can be a bit daunting and demoralizing to consider these ideas, but the sooner that we accept them, the sooner we can recognize that we are strong enough to meet the challenges, and that the struggles allow us to appreciate our joys much more thoroughly. The mire is necessary, even though it won’t seem like it when we’re trudging through suckville. 

A Predicament

Moving to Asia seems, in some ways, to have accelerated life’s attempts to humble me. I feel more aware than ever that I don’t have all the answers, that I’m far from infallible, that I can’t do everything by myself.

I’ve been compelled to contemplate the future of this blog, in fact. I’ve asked myself, “Should I be publishing my reflections on living and thinking, when I struggle to find balance and consistency in my own life? Should I be describing the flaws I perceive in society, when I’m ignorant of much and will make mistakes?”

These are difficult questions.

But I’ve come to the realization that no man, alive or dead, has had all of the answers or felt entirely in-control, all the time. No artist, philosopher, teacher, inventor, or scientist has ever shared their talents with the world without a heap of errors and missteps.

In short — if we wait until we’re without flaws to begin creating our legacy and impacting the world, we will rot in the soil, never having done a thing worth mentioning.

Magical things have come of this project already, in the form of relationships, conversations, and hopefully, a bit more goodness in the world. I see now that the people who’ve reached out to me about what I’ve written here have been a consistent inspiration in my life — an inspiration to keep moving and to continue trying to be the change, to live my words. For that, I can’t express my gratitude to all of you.

The Verdict

So I will keep writing. I will continue to pour what I have to give into Refine The Mind and into my other writing and art. I will do it because I believe in doing what excites me. I will do it as the fragile and uncertain human being that I am, and hopefully, I will do it more honestly than ever, in a way that makes a difference in the hearts and minds of those who encounter my work.

At the risk of being preachy or trite, I’d suggest that all of you do the same. Be who you are and express yourself — whether that means painting frescos, building rocking chairs, or just being one of those rare people who says what they feel and think. Do it, despite what others may say, despite the mistakes you’ll make.

I’ll do the same. I may not be the next Buddha, Socrates, or Jimi Hendrix, but that’s okay. I can be the potently preposterous self that I was given.

I’m better at being him anyway.


P.S. If this resonated with you, check out the ways to follow what I write. Thanks, humans.

Photo Credit: Bùi Linh Ngân

If this essay resonated, you'll enjoy my Dead Honest Newsletter, my list of Cage-Melting Books, and following me on on Facebook and Instagram.

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About Jordan Bates

Jordan Bates is a Lover of God, healer, mentor of leaders, writer, and music maker. The best way to keep up with his work is to join nearly 7,000 people who read his Substack newsletter.

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Derick Van Ness
Derick Van Ness
10 years ago


I appreciate your honesty and I can relate with your struggle. I help people find and live their Soul Purpose (and even have a book about it), and that can sometimes cause me to feel that I should have all of the answers. However, what I’ve found is helpful is realizing that I don’t need to have all of the answers to help others or myself, I just need to focus on asking the right questions and the answers seem to show up.

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and keep up the good work Brother!

Jordan Bates
10 years ago


Thank you for the words of encouragement. It certainly makes me feel better to hear from others who have questioned the validity of what they’re doing. Realizing that we don’t need all of the answers, that we will make mistakes, does seem crucial to any type of work that involves intellectual or artistic risk-taking. Your project/mission/vocation to help others discover their purpose sounds very cool. Best of luck to you and take care. Don’t be a stranger, and thanks again for the comment.

Taurus Turtle
Taurus Turtle
10 years ago

What an amazing article. I’ve never said this to another man, but you are a beautifully inspiring person. As I began to read the article I started to get a little nervous when you mentioned maybe not continuing with the blog, and I feel the need to tell you that your site continues to help me in a way no other website or book has. I reread your articles daily, I have them on my phone and tablet. I never get the feeling that you’re a know-it-all or that you think you’re better than anyone. As I’ve said before, the… Read more »

Jordan Bates
10 years ago
Reply to  Taurus Turtle

Taurus Turtle, man, thank you. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this. I began to tear up a bit while reading it. This is the most heartfelt and powerful message I’ve received about what I write on this blog. For people like you, I will keep writing. Just knowing that there’s someone out there who has benefitted that much from what I’ve written makes the effort completely worthwhile to me. I’m glad you appreciate my thoughts and don’t find me to be anything more than another human being, doing his best to navigate this labyrinth of… Read more »

10 years ago

I just found your website a few days ago (from Tiny Buddha) and am now going through your past articles. So if you get lots of comments from me on old articles, that is why 🙂 While I love reading books from the Greats, I occasionally feel that they are an aspirational goal, not something that I can fully relate to (or at least not anytime soon). Perhaps I’m just not that evolved yet. I do love to learn and grow and question how I perceive the world, and the Greats help me do that. But I feel like there… Read more »

Jordan Bates
10 years ago
Reply to  venusbu03

venusbu03, Comment on as many articles as you like! Great to hear that so much of the content appeals to you. I’m really, really flattered by your comment about the accessibility of my writing. I really try to keep the thinking at a high level while still being personable and as clear as possible. Thank you. I like that sentiment that you “love the “flaws”” in humanity. I think learning to love the flaws is required if one is to come to love other people and oneself. I like that you put “flaws” in quotes though — our shortcomings are… Read more »

10 years ago
Reply to  Jordan Bates

I think incorporating other thinkers can be great. I always like to find new authors or books, and even a good quote can inspire me to seek out written works by that person. I also like reading the commentary by other people (like you) and what you take from it. It expands my grasp of topics. For example, there are many brilliant passages from Rumi, Thich Nhat Hanh, etc., that bring me great insight and comfort. But reading what other people take away from those same passages broadens my perspective. Also, some ideas are a little beyond my ability right… Read more »

Jordan Bates
10 years ago
Reply to  venusbu03

Great to hear, venusbu03. That’s perfect feedback and honestly exactly how I’m hoping my readers feel. I feel the same way. Thank you. 🙂

Francis Meyrick
10 years ago

Excellent, grasshopper.

Jordan Bates
10 years ago

Thanks, gramps. 😉

10 years ago

lol I can relate to bates. except I don’t drink and I don’t fall for women easily, I just adore them and I am always myself.

Jordan Bates
10 years ago
Reply to  Job

Glad you can relate. Indeed, I enjoy a good beer and have been known to fall fast and hard. Sounds like you’re doing your thing, and that’s grand. Best.

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