What Happens Between 0 and 1

“What happens between 0 and 1?” 

It’s a weird question that caught my attention. Our guest lecturer studied dance movements and gestures as a language. Her presentation highlighted a type of traditional Indian dance where poses conveyed a meaning, and the question arrived when she explained the difficulty of marking “pose 1” after “pose 0.” How do you know know once you’ve fully “hit” the right pose, and is the process between 0 and 1 just as important?

For some reason, this question stuck. It snuck its way into my week, becoming my personal theory and appearing unannounced in everything I did. How do I know when I fully learned something, going from zero knowledge to a clear understanding? How do I know I’m advancing towards “step 1” and not stuck in “step 0?” Am I making progress at all? I’ve never felt imposter syndrome as intensely as I have this first month at Duke (imposter syndrome: “a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud.’”), and I believe this question had something to do with it. It drove me into passionate self-doubt and insecurity.

This fixation reminded me of the importance of goals and measuring. Because we see ourselves through all the bits and pieces “between 0 and 1,” we often fail to notice when we’ve passed our first milestone; we are unable to accurately gauge progress. I notice this most when I’m hard on myself, like when pulling together a last minute assignment or forgetting to do the dishes. The things I criticize myself over now are drastically different than the things I said to myself a few months ago. I never took the time to reflect and celebrate that. 

Now, I’m making goals. I’m reflecting on where I’ve been and where I am now. I’m taking some time to find out what does happen “between 0 and 1,” and once I do that, I’ll know when I “hit” the right pose.