This I (don’t) know

I don’t know how to be okay with getting older.

I don’t know if I will ever fall in love again.

I don’t know if my family will always be healthy and safe.

I don’t know how to ski, or surf, or snorkel, or ride a bike.

I don’t know how to be more optimistic about the things I can’t control.

I don’t know how to walk in high heels.

I don’t know how to trust the universe.

I don’t know how to live up to their idea of me.

I don’t know if I will be a mother.

I don’t know where I’ll end up.

There’s so much I don’t know.

And I don’t know how to be okay with that.

But I’m trying.

57 responses
  1. Marie Landry

    At least you’re trying. There are so many things in life we can’t control and can’t know, and it can be scary and overwhelming, but there are so many things you DO know, and have done and seen. It doesn’t necessarily make the not knowing easier, but I hope you can take comfort in knowing you’re able to do something not many people are – touch lives, change them, bring comfort and joy and encouragement and inspiration and open up people’s eyes to what they were blind to before. That’s huge. The other stuff sorts itself out, with or without our help, good or bad. xx

  2. Dasi

    Loved it. I don’t know either.

  3. Kyra

    It’s so difficult to accept the things that we don’t know. It puts our vulnerabilities out there for everyone. I don’t know how to do that. Thank you for sharing your truths. xoxo

  4. Meg

    Sometimes uncertainty is just excruciating.

  5. reecie

    what beautiful words, hits the nail on the head completely and captures so many things deep inside.

  6. Carol Moore

    The first two are my biggest I dont knows. I didn’t start really living life until about 60. I have so much to catch up on, so many adventures yet to experience. Just praying God gives me many healthy years. And after 17 years of being single, post divorce, I’d love to find a significant other. two is better than one.

    Thank you for sharing your heart. I pray your new love arrives soon. Aging… Not much we can do about that. Just stay young at heart.

  7. NathalieSo

    Great post.
    For everything doing with sports of abilities that require a bit of training I will mention that Tolstoi learned to ride a bike at 67 (according to the Internets), and that wedges are a great compromise when it comes to heels. We might not know it but we can try and succeed. Which reminds me: did you get your driving license?
    As for everything else whether it’s fear or dreams, we can make sure we put in place everything so that some come true and others are kept at bay.
    You’re the closest thing I’ve had to a role model because you’re very human and I love this. Been reading your blog for 2 years now and I am glad I found that space. I wish you all the happiness.

  8. Ginny

    I have learned that no matter how young or how old we are there are always things that we don’t know. That is what makes life interesting and scary at the same time.

  9. Alexis Zinkerman

    Trusting the universe means letting go and you are doing a fine job with that my friend. Stay present and know you are putting your faith in the universe to lead you on the path it wants you on.

  10. Anne

    So honest… thank you!

  11. kristen

    i would love to figure out how to be ok with getting older…sigh.

    i would also love to learn how to surf, but the fear of being chomped on by a shark keeps me on the shore.

  12. kathryn

    i really love this post (photograph and words!)…if you find out how to trust the universe, please let us all know, cuz that’s a super hard one!!

  13. susannah

    Thank you, love :) no license yet but still having lessons twice a week!

  14. Felicia Thomas

    If I knew the answers I would tell you, but look at all the things you do know!
    The only thing I know is 30’s are difficault, but they are something that you must do to get to your 40’s….. which I have to tell you, ROCK!!!!

  15. Katherine

    I hope I get the chance to meet you one day if for no other reason than to give you a hug. And I can’t walk in heels either.

  16. rachel

    Love this! I am so much more aware of what i *do not* know rather than what i do!

  17. Tamar

    Susannah, this is so beautiful and thank you for sharing. I have been following your blog since my sister in Brighton directed me to you. and I am very glad she did. I am now living in Vancouver, Canada.
    I just sent a couple of emails to our fantastic library here asking them to order This I Don’t Know and the Polaroid one. I hope they will do it. Hope your weekend is going well. take care. Tamar

  18. Nicole

    thank you for your honesty. it’s so refreshing. it’s hard to admit our fears and uncertainties, just know you are not alone. xo, nicole

  19. Sabine

    Thank you for your openness, Susannah. Sometimes it bothers me too, when I run a list in my head, what I can’t do. What I didn’t accomplish, yet! And that’s what I’m trying to do in these down moments. I already achieved so many goals, that I saw unapproachable at one time. But with time, courage and stamina I managed. And therefore I see those things on my list as a challenge. One at a time will be checked off my list in time and I’m glad that I have those goals, because they always brought me to unexpected and wonderful places and people, which I otherwise would’ve missed. I hope, Susannah, you can see your “I don’t know”-list in some time in a similar light and get excited over the possibilities that are hidden beneath.

  20. lone

    lovely susannah, appreciate your realness much. so many things i don’t know either, in fact it seems the more i know, i don’t know. sometimes such a paradox of wanting to know it all, and loving living the mystery too. yes, learning to relax into the unknown, most likely the biggest skill we as humans can learn. lets sigh and kick our feet up. sending love …

  21. Javavenus

    Oh, Susannah! I can completely identify with what you have shared here. I try so often to always find the silver lining in every situation that when I can’t find one, I feel sad and scared. Mostly because it feels like I have been denied access to my happy place.

    My husband retired from the military last week. We have relocated to Colorado to be near my family. We ate technically homeless and unemployed and I don’t know much about how a lot of anything will turn out. I am trying to be okay, too. Sometimes it all seems too big.

    Thank you for spilling your guts and showing me that it is okay to be in the moment…. Wherever that might be for the time being.

  22. Christine Pike

    You are a truly inspiring artist Lovely.. you weave your words so beautifully and reach into so many hearts with your authenticity. I value you so much and it’s clear I’m not alone!! Kindred spirits on this path support the why’s how’s and don’t knows and the sharing really helps.. You make this journey an art form and your honesty and generosity heals..Lots of love to you Angel

  23. Jet Harrington

    What a beautiful counterpoint to your book (title). There are so many things to not know. I think this vulnerability keeps us humble. That there are things to learn and try and do, still, makes room for adventure and curiosity. You are a beautiful example of each of these in the way you live your life.

  24. jane/faerian

    so much we don’t know isn’t there? hells bells… but the only certain mind is a closed one … i have had fleeting thoughts as i lavish my adoration on you of how that might feel a little scary to be on the receiving end of… my great affection is there not because i think you are perfect or flawless but because you have tricky things inside and outside your self that you navigate with courage and humility and that is what (well part of what) makes you beautiful …. who needs heels anyway? xxx

  25. Nicola

    I don’t know either. It is hard. I turn 42 on Thursday and thought my life would be all figured out by now but I still feel like I don’t know what I am doing, what I want, how to get it. Having had an awful few years I just try and take it one day at a time and hope that somehow it will all turn out alright. Hugs xxx

  26. Valerie

    This reminds me of a text read by Jean Gabin many moons ago. It’s called Now I know. If you speak French, here is link to the words:
    If you don’t, in a nutshell, he says that all his life he thought he knew everything, then at the end of his life, he says: “Now I know, I know that we never know. Life, love, money, friends and roses; we never know the sound and colour of things. That’s all I know, but that, I know it!”

  27. Betsy

    Meditation has been my answer to all of those thoughts….with just 3 minutes a day my life is changed forever.
    Try it! Please!

  28. Amanda Chea

    The universe has the power to make anything happen for you if its what you truly want.

  29. Barbara M.

    ((((((Susannah)))))) >>– those are hugs!!

    I don’t know if you will have any of those things either. Heck, I don’t know if **I’ll** ever have any of those things and I’m old enough to be your Mother.

    What I do know is The World is blessed for having you in it. And, your nephew is blessed to have someone on his side who isn’t **Mom**.



  30. Michaela

    Susannah, Your self-honesty and willingness to express it to the world is breathtaking. What a gift you are. Thank you, thank you!! xo

  31. kelly collins

    I don’t know you, but I feel I do (since your unraveling course and photo challenges and reading your blog this last year). I love your blog and many times I feel you are my voice. So, so glad I found your site. Thank you. Kelly, a 54 year old friend in Philly. good luck with your fabulous book.

  32. Steph

    Sweetie, there’s nothing you can’t feel better about once you learn how to walk in high heels. So get a pair today and *bend your knees slightly* when you walk. The swing of the bottom will follow but, believe me, the secret to walking in high (and super-high) heels is ALL in the knee bend. Louboutin is right when he says that the world looks better from the top of your high heels. And, you know… at present the alternative to ageing is dying so… I think that ageing beats dying by a few miles. Bon courage!

    [PS… This will sound lame but to me it seems like you’re already mothering Noah and ok he already has a mum but… it’s not like there isn’t that kind of love in your life…]

  33. Jodes

    One thing I do know about getting older, every passing year the list of things I don’t know gets longer. But I think because of this we become more empathetic, caring human beings.
    Trusting the Universe? Yep I’d like to get that one down pat too, I think that one would help with the rest :)
    Keep being open and true

  34. Carol Nunan

    As others have said I think I am slowly coming to the realisation that there will always be things I don’t know. I expected I would be wiser at this point in my life (52) but what I’m finding is that when we are young we are arrogant enough to think we know everything, and if we don’t we should. I have a greater understanding of my mother who I always thought to be all seeing, isn’t. She too is vulnerable, she doesn’t know either (she’s 76). We DO know more … and we don’t … and we never will.

  35. susannah

    :-) actually, the reason i can’t walk in high heels is my feet — they are wide and the skin is extra sensitive, so i get blisters within 5 minutes. have tried every type of heel/shoe you can imagine. so now i don’t bother.

  36. Helen

    Thank you for your honesty, its makes me feel like I can be brave. Your words made my day. When you write posts like this that come from your very being its like I have someone out there like an e-sister/friend who is wise, wise about life that is, and wise enough to know we each have the wherewithall to find our own specific personal answers. Since unravelling last September I may not be nearer the answers but I do know myself better and I have you to thank in a big way for that – keep on inking your words. With joy I’m still unravelling

    P.S. I can’t wear high heels either, but I am slowly growing a great collection of flats, boots and funky sneakers.

  37. Sheryl Pirolo Kober

    I experienced that once you accept that you have no control over the world, you can finally move on. When I lost my Dad 2 years ago, my entire world came crashing down around me. As I learn (I am still learning) to accept his passing, I have experienced much gratitude for the 44 years 7 months and 14 days that he was with me here on this earth. My gratitude comes only by letting go and having faith that when bad things happen you figure out a way to survive it.

  38. soraya nulliah

    Dear Susannah: There is so much in life we don’t know, will never know and just aren’t supposed to know. That’s where the trust comes in. Trust in ourSELVES, each other and the Universe. I love reading your words here …you inspire me + give me courage. Thank you.
    P.S. I ordered your book last week (This I Know) and am peeing myself waiting for it to arrive:) xxx

  39. susannah

    that really made me smile :D

  40. Rebecca

    Thank you so much for posting this. I turned 29 today and for the first time I looked around and saw that everyone I know seems so settled and on track with their lives, and I am nowhere close to that. It was such a ‘woah’ moment.

    It’s nice to read that there are others out there that worry about the same things that I do.

  41. Traci

    I have been thinking about this post all weekend; waiting to comment but not sure how best to comment. But I thought I would share this quote from Rilke which I had posted up in my office last year that helped me and I hope it helps you too:

    “…have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

  42. susannah

    Gorgeous quote!

  43. Patricia

    This post resonated with me so much. I have been struggling with the “I don’t know’s” in my life recently and they’re so frustrating. It’s hard to surrender and just let it be. But it’s made easier when people like you admit that they too are struggling with them. Thank you for your honesty and bravery. You’re my hero.

  44. Meg Manion Silliker

    i love your honesty and your brave heart. i’m not okay with getting older. i fear it’s all going so fast. but i do know that walking in high heels is fabulous. so go for it. the rest will fall into place. xo

  45. Josefina Dieguez

    This feels like something I could have written, Susannah. It serves to confirm that we are not alone in this. You are amazing, thank you for your honesty. xo

  46. Stacy

    Exactly what I needed to read today! I don’t know either…but I’m going to keep asking myself the tough questions and being true to the answers I hear. I look forward to discovering your answers along the way too….

  47. Anneri

    So totally agree! I live in Cape Town and we have the most beautiful surfing spots. We also have the most beautiful great white sharks. And I prefer not to become someones dinner!

  48. Anneri

    I don’t know too.
    I bet if I start a similar list I will be busy for weeks.

  49. vera


    Let the sea teach you its ways!

  50. michelle gd

    can i just send some x’s and o’s?
    it’s hard to not know…

  51. eliza

    reading your words, which always make sense…even if you/we don’t know the answers! watching you and your book soar, from way over here…and thinking ‘way to go girl!!!!!!’. all the best with your US trip, hope you get the pesky visa sorted. cheers, eliza

  52. Michele

    This gave me goosebumps. Thank you for sharing!

  53. Colleen Leonardi

    Susannah! The things you don’t know!! Yay. Love what you wrote here and what Soraya wrote about trust. It’s all about trust. xx

  54. Hind Mezaina

    Hi Susannah
    If someone asked me to list the things I don’t know, I’d just refer them to your list because it pretty much covers it. Good to see I’m not the only one. There’s so much in this world we can’t control, and I just try to deal with it a day at a time.

    Thanks for this post.


  55. Christine

    I continue to be amazed by what I don’t know.

    This is a beautiful post ?

  56. Kristin

    None of us know, but only the wise ones admit it. Great post!

  57. Anne

    I don’t know a lot of this stuff either. After this post and reading the comments I don’t feel so alone in my corner of uncertainty.

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