“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” ~Henry David Thoreau
Another day, another class missed, another alarm turned off. No motivation but to turn the pillow over to its colder side and lay there half asleep, unanswered questions gliding in and out of my mind.
This was how most of my mornings went in my last days of college. I had never been too motivated by the promise of college, even in high school, but it had always been set in my head that a college degree was my goal, my path to that elusive happiness we all crave.
It was my belief, and perhaps my parents’ as well, that I would head off to have the proverbial college experience and in the process I would become a lawyer or some sort of government official. That I would just wake up one day and say, “Aha! I know what I want to do for the rest of my life!” But that morning epiphany never came.
All that happened was a continuous cycle of partying, all night study sessions, followed by a complete and utter lack of fulfillment. So I dropped out. I moved back home with no degree, disappointed parents, and a deep sense of failure and confusion.
It was one of the most trying times in my life simply because I realized that my life had been on autopilot.
Everything about my future was ambiguously assumed. I would get into debt by going to college, then I would be forced to get a job to pay off that debt, while still getting into more and more debt by buying a house and a car. It seemed like a never-ending cycle that had no place for the possibility of a dream.
I wanted more—but not necessarily in the material sense of personal wealth and success. I wanted more out of life. I wanted a passion, a conceptual dream that wouldn’t let me sleep out of pure excitement. I wanted to spring out of bed in the morning, rain or shine, and have that zest for life that seemed so intrinsic in early childhood.
We all have a dream. It might be explicitly defined or just a vague idea, but most of us are so stuck in the muck of insecurity and self-doubt that we just dismiss it as unrealistic or too difficult to pursue.
We become so comfortable with the life that has been planned out for us by our parents, teachers, traditions, and societal norms that we feel that it’s stupid and unsafe to risk losing it for the small hope of achieving something that is more fulfilling.
“The policy of being too cautious is the greatest risk of all.” ~Jawaharlal Nehru
Don’t take me wrong though; taking a risk is still a risk. We can, and will, fail. Possibly many, many, many times. But that is what makes it exciting for me. That uncertainty can be viewed negatively, or it can empower us.
Failing is what makes us grow, it makes us stronger and more resilient to the aspects of life we have no control over. The fear of failure, although, is what makes us stagnant and sad. So even though I couldn’t see the future as clearly as before, I took the plunge in hopes that in the depths of fear and failure, I would come out feeling more alive than ever before.
And I did. It took some time and some unwanted introspection, but out of the loneliness of my parents’ dark basement, I came out with a bright light of creativity and personal understanding.
I had always loved writing and telling stories, but the task of writing a book just seemed too daunting and cumbersome for a nineteen-year-old kid. So I began writing poetry, playing with metaphors and smiling at similes. And then I slowly began incorporating my poetry into songs, and my passion for songwriting was instilled.
My experience doesn’t entail that you should immediately drop out of school or quit your job.
What it does mean is that if you feel lost, just take a deep breath and realize that being lost can be turning point of finding out who you truly are, and what you truly want to do.
I still struggle, I still feel lost at times. I’ve cried and I’ve felt embarrassed. I’ve felt like a failure and I’ve felt pity from others and from myself. But I’m at peace with myself more and more every day and now I don’t even need an alarm to get up in the morning.
I just fall asleep thinking about the people I hold close to my heart and my music, and that brings me more excitement than anything I could have ever imagined.
Life is amazing. I believe we’re here to find happiness, and when we do, to share it with everyone we meet.
So don’t be afraid to lose yourself. The individual that comes out of the maze might just surprise you.
Photo by /Sean