When I was a graduate student at Yale, I quickly came to realize that everyone around me was very busy pretending to know more than they actually knew. And once you realized how the pretense worked, you could see that they were investing a lot of energy in the deception. Intellectual posturing, or posing, in service to pretending, was one of the main activities on campus - at least, among my fellow graduate students at the time. No one would ever say, in class, "I'm not sure what you mean. Could you say more about that?" No brave soul would ask for a repetition or an elucidation or an explanation. Everyone made it seem as if he, or she, understood everything perfectly, on a first hearing, or even before. There was an enveloping fear of asking questions and thus revealing a weakness or gap in knowledge or understanding, which, of course, merely perpetuated every such weakness or gap there was.
And I came to realize, quickly, that one of the best things anyone concerned with excellence can do is to ask questions. It sometimes takes courage. It can be a heroic act of bravery in certain situations. But questions are breadcrumbs to truth and real understanding.
The most important thing I learned at Yale was to ask questions when everyone else was afraid to do so. And that's when I started to learn lots more.
So, ask. And ask again. Boldly, bravely ask, without a care as to what others think of you for asking, and thereby improve what you're able to think.