The Question That Shaped It All

Last month, we read an inspiring On Being column by Courtney E. Martin about the very first ‘big’ question she asked in life that got her thinking on her own. It was the first big question she posed to tackle life’s challenges as a child, and through the years to follow. Whether consciously or not, this question has defined the choices and decisions she’s made throughout her life.

This prompt sparked a fascinating group discussion with friends and colleagues about what our first big questions were. For a friend who liked to push the limits, yet grew up with very strict parents, she questioned, ‘But why?’ when the answer was no. For the youngest, often overshadowed sibling of five, a colleague remembered asking ‘How can my voice be heard?’ Witnessing her parents go through a messy divorce, a friend often questioned, ‘Why is it so difficult to tell the truth?’

For Courtney, she uncovered that to some degree, she’s always asked ‘How can we wake up from our delusions of perfection?’ These big questions have shaped the stories of our lives, and we can’t wait to hear yours. What was your first big question? Send them to us at

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