Anthony Bourdain on Being Wrong

I consistently have the nagging feeling that I've done everything wrong - I didn't go to the right college, I didn't choose the right major, I didn't take the right career path, I didn't focus with the right intensity, I shouldn't have bought a house so soon, I shouldn't have been so stubborn in that argument, etcetcetc. Too many decisions and too many possibilities often overwhelm my thought process.

My only real peace with this is to tell myself that no matter where I've been or what I've done, I have to focus on actively putting myself on the path I want to be on - sometimes this means getting up earlier than I would like. Getting to write for real publications is the right path - I know this like some people know they have soul mates, or love mashed potatoes. I know I needed to leave Arkansas for a while and be on my own, although the "on my own" part I'm just now getting to.  My biggest regret is not having more confidence when I was younger.  I always thought I was too young to do something well, and as I got older, I thought I was aging too quickly to do anything significant.  I'm learning to shake both of these beliefs.

I'm not the only person who devotes a large part of my thinking to questions about being wrong - Kathryn Shulz of Slate is writing a series of Q&A's about people's relationships with being wrong. Recently she interviewed Anthony Bourdain, and I love him, so I wanted to share a couple of my favorite snippets from the interview.

"Travel has made me more optimistic. I believe now that for the most part, the world is filled with people doing the best they can under the circumstances."


After a whole lot of years in New York kitchens, you're suddenly traveling almost all the time, largely overseas. In my experience, that's an incredibly good way to be wrong pretty much hourly.

It's the most exciting thing about travel to me. You're constantly wrong. You're constantly challenged by your own preconceptions. You're forced to relearn such basic, basic things. Words you thought you knew the definition for become completely changed: the word work, the word hunger, the word generosity. Or you think an entire country's going to be one way and then it's another way. I like being wrong in that respect.



I also had no idea he was a heroin addict, I suppose I should do more biographical research about my few favorite celebrities.  It's nice to know if you can turn your life around from being a hard core drug addict, I can probably make a few positive modifications in my career trajectory and inability to fight nicely so that when I turn thirty I feel a little more confidant in my standing.

Other words that need new definitions: success, need, expectation, love.