When I was in Highschool and into University, I was afraid to say "I don't know." Whenever others asked a question, I felt a desperate need to answer them, to know the answer, even if I had no idea how to reply. I found myself stating an answer based on assumption or on possibility. And I felt guilt and a sense of obligation to search out a correct answer. At times when I did know the answer, I felt relief and peace that I could answer with certainty.
While in University, I asked a dear friend of mine a question that she did not know the answer to. She looked at me with gentle eyes and said simply "I don't know." Full stop. She didn't qualify or fumble around with possibilities or anecdotal guesses. It was liberating for me to hear her reply. And I started to answer more honestly when I truly did not know an answer.
If I were to psycho-analyze myself, I would say that some of my experience is out of my desire to please others, to seem intelligent and to feel like I have a good memory and ability to retain information. And not all of these motivations are wrong. But there is a restless element to not being able to simply admit that "I don't know."
I was reminded of this earlier today when my husband asked me a question and my reply of "I don't know", came honestly and without guilt. I am thankful that my friend in University was able to answer in this way. She taught me to slow down and be more truthful.