Sometimes you must get lost to find yourself, but what if you feel lost all the time?
One of the first things I invested in during my college days was a passport, believing if I could just let my wanderlust out I wouldn’t feel so lost anymore. I earnestly believed that I had to see and do everything, to find what was out there, before I could figure myself and the Big F out — the future.
The best thing you could do for yourself is to lose the map and learn to trust your inner compass. There is something to be said about getting lost to find yourself. If you’re stuck in the same humdrum existence, you need to change that pattern.
It doesn’t necessarily mean skipping off to Italy or France to see master paintings or finding inner peace at an ashram in India or Nepal. Sometimes, it does, but all it takes is one little change to shake your life up enough to gain your balance again. It’s taking a painting class or learning to swing dance when you swear you have two left feet. It’s going to a new coffee shop, and literally opening a new door to a place you’ve never been before.
New discoveries will scare you, excited you and confuse you, and you know what — good! These experiences calibrate you, and help you understand what you want, need and don’t need in your life. You learn to trust your inner compass through discovery.
Explorers only guesstimated where they would end up. And we all know that Christopher Columbus experienced a major oops when he was aiming for the West Indies and landed on the North American continent instead. Oops.
We all have our “oops” moments in life, our ups and downs. There is no given map about where to be, what to do, what to say or how to be yourself. There’s only “supposed to” and “should.” Those words come with too much societal, familial and personal pressure. Learn to replace them with how you feel, how you could, and my personal favorite words: yes; no.
These pressures make you sweat, make your heart ache and break, and it’s hard to understand what’s going on. Do you really want to go to law school? Do you really want to go to school at all? What if you don’t get that artist residency or have enough money?
What happened when explorers ran out of goods or money? They did their best and learned to use the resources around them. It’s okay not to have it figure out. Forget the five-year plan, because sometimes three weeks is all you need in your business and personal life. Remember that plans are for planning, not what will be.
Cartographers just drew what they saw as they experienced it and based off of the information and data gathered by their peers and predecessors. Look to the experiences of others for guidance and wisdom, but remember that you have to claim your own experiences. No one can live your life for you.
Others tell you what to do. They ask where your plan is. You grit your teeth and catch your mind repeating the same broken record of questions, guilt-tripping yourself with the barrage of questions:
The questions sometimes get meaner, especially when you are your own worst critic. It’s okay to be lost. It’s okay not to have it all figured it, and it’s okay to get a little sassy with yourself and say, “I don’t know. That’s the beauty of it. Now mind your beeswax, brain.” Ask yourself “What’s next?” and “What if?” within a positive frame of mind.
With others, it’s tougher to develop boundaries with societal, familial and personal pressures about what’s supposed to happen in your life. Like the way you learn to walk, it takes one step at a time. Going to a new coffee shop, taking a swing dancing class, or letting wanderlust rule you one summer and getting the heck out of dodge.
Do invest in a passport, but give yourself a personal passport to get stamps on new experiences, to see regular things in a new light. So, what if you don’t have it all figured out! That’s the beauty of this thing called life.