Let me start by saying that it’s perfectly alright to feel lost. It’s alright not to have the latest gadgets and gizmos. It’s alright not to be doing what everyone else is doing – or even wanting to do what everyone else is doing. It’s alright to feel as though you’re drowning in a world of expectation. It’s alright to want to travel instead of going to university. It’s alright not to do either of those things. It’s alright to want to better yourself. It’s alright not to become a part of the societal norm. It’s alright to feel lost.
I’m lost. I have been for a while. I spent much of my teen years and early twenties denying who I am. I denied what I loved in exchange to be welcomed and accepted into the community of those who valued the “traditional” life.
From time to time, I had moments where I knew this was not the sort of place I belonged, but I frequently denied any kind of question about how I was living my life. After all, I was at university getting drunk with friends most nights. However, I also had a job while I was working towards a degree. I was building my future! Wasn’t this what life was about?
After university, I joined the rat race and got myself a job. I even bought a car on finance. That’s what we’re supposed to do, right? Pay extraordinary amounts of money to show off to others how privileged we are and how well we’re doing?
However, that feeling of wondering where I belonged and the question, “What am I actually going to do with my life?” was unrelenting. Not only was I asking myself that question, but so was everyone else around me. They’d ask when I was going to get “serious” about my life. In other words, when was I going to settle down and have a family. My mum still asks me when am I going to have children at least once a week.
I found myself getting tired of modern world pressures, as well as its values and rules about what makes me successful, and how we we’re all supposed to live. Eventually, life became so unsatisfactory that I found no joy in my day-to-day business. My days were empty. I felt empty. I was tired all the time, I complained about everything, and all I could see were the flaws. I was on autopilot wondering when the hell
life would get its colour back. I knew I needed to get out, but I couldn’t see the path. I’d wake up in the morning and find it such an effort to get up out of bed. I was slowly being eaten up by who I was supposed to be. I didn’t like it.
Questions kept cropping up, like: “What am I doing?”, “Where do I belong?”, “What am I here to do?”, and “Am I actually achieving anything?” I’d see other people around me achieving so much and I wondered if I was living life wrong. Is there a wrong way to live life? The answer to that is no, but it’s extremely frustrating seeing others sailing through life with ease while I felt like I was caught in a rip-tide of confusion, expectation, and a desire to do more.
It was then that I realised I was lost. I had been lost for all that time, but to admit that to myself would mean I’d have to actually change my life and admit that I was quite simply unhappy! I’d have to take a bashing to my pride. Who wants that? However, ever since I admitted it, I’ve been slowly carving my path the way that I want it to be.
I’m still feeling lost, but it’s not as suffocating as it once was. It usually becomes unbearable when I start looking towards the future and I have a momentary panic about what I’ll be doing in five, ten, twenty years. Then I remind myself, I’m here in this moment and not there in the future. I try and remember that I need to concentrate on the beauty of the present moment.
Below, I’ve compiled a list of seven realisations I had about why it’s alright for us to feel lost. I find these are especially helpful to remember when I’m having a particularly bad day.
1. It’s an opportunity for you to reclaim your life
This is a time of empowerment for you. You get to decide what’s best for you. YOU. No-one else. And no, it’s not selfish to want great things for yourself. I often found that I used to feel guilty for wanting to do things differently to the norm because of how it might make others feel, but then I realised that it’s alright to do this for myself. I came to see that it was other people’s expectations that let them down, not me. You can’t sacrifice your happiness for someone else’s expectations. Take back your power and reclaim your life!
2. Your life becomes an open book for opportunity
Yay! You’re now open to everything in life! What makes you feel good? What makes you feel bad? What makes you burst with excitement? Avoid what makes you feel bad, find what feels good, and pursue what makes you burst with excitement.
The thing about being lost is that the universe has now got the chance to send you all kinds of opportunities. Some of which you may not have even previously thought about, but now you suddenly find yourself discovering that same opportunity showcased a talent you didn’t know you had! While the universe sends these opportunities, it’s up to you to decide whether you take them or not. Do you like to write? Draw? Paint? Make games? Cook? Skateboard? Act? Whatever it is you love, keep persisting with it. Johnny Depp lived out of his friends car and sold pens before he made it as one of the most successful actors. Let being lost take you to places you never considered.
3. It’s an experience
Like everything in life, being lost is also an experience. It’s different for everyone, but we all ask the same questions. The joy of it is we all arrive at different places with amazing stories to tell that may one day inspire and help someone else on their journey. Once you accept being lost, you enjoy being lost. What?! Enjoy feeling this way! Are you mad?! Perhaps, but it means I have no-where I’m rushing to be. I realise I’ve taken the pressure off of myself. I can see what life gives me and decide whether or not I want to pursue it. Remember, you get to determine what kind of experience this is so make it a joyful one.
4. You realise how much love you have to give
That’s why we become lost in the first place. We care so much about making our lives matter that we start to question what we’re doing. In the process, we find ourselves unsatisfied. We find ourselves wanting to feed the homeless, rescue animals, construct sustainable buildings, and fight against GMO’s. Maybe you want to recycle unwanted clothing into blankets for the poor, give food to the food banks, or read to children one afternoon a week. Whatever it is that we want to do, the driving force is that we want to give a part of ourselves to other people. In the emotion of wanting to give so much to others, we can learn that part of feeling lost is realising how full of love we are, and how ready we are to give that love away.
5. You’ve reached the peak of who you’re told to be
You’re lost because you don’t want to be the person who works 9-5, or who works to pay the bills. You need to be so much more than that. You’ve realised there’s a bigger reason for why we’re all here on this Earth. You just want to play a role in creating an extraordinary world to live in. Suddenly, average doesn’t feel like enough for you anymore.
This is a massive chance for you to ascend towards being your true self. It’s a chance to really focus on yourself and discover what really enthralls you about life. You know that you don’t particularly want what everyone else wants for you. Now, you’ll have time to slow down and think about what life you want to create for yourself. You’re evolving and that’s incredibly exciting!
6. Don’t ever be afraid to feel lost or to admit to feeling lost
Honestly, it’s so freeing and refreshing once you admit to yourself that you feel lost. It’s kinda scary too, but in that moment when you finally say, “I’m lost”, you give yourself the power to change your perspective and your life. I understand it’s hard to admit something like this in our world, especially when we’re taught that we must remain strong and we must know the direction of our lives. Where is this place we are all going, anyway?
7. No-one has all the answers
Yep, even all the self-help books, all the philosophical teachings, and everyone I’ve spoken to; they all make one thing clear: no-one knows it all. This is very reassuring for me because at least I know there’s not one absolute answer that I’m meant to be finding. It makes me feel more connected to others, so I don’t feel as lonely.
Maybe life isn’t always about rushing to and from some place? Perhaps, feeling lost is a chance for us to be still for a while? Why not take a little breather from the rat race? This is a chance to stop and observe the world, a chance to smell the roses, and a chance to just be. Do we need to be heading anywhere?
In ConclusionI’m 26 and I still don’t know where I’m going. However, I know that I’m trying and I’m moving. I might be moving at a snail’s pace, but it’s still counts! Don’t ever feel guilty about “floundering”. I don’t. At least we know we’re lost, which means we can start to take action.
It’s alright for me and you to be lost because we’re collecting moments and experiences about ourselves and our world. We are each trying to make a meaningful positive difference in the world. For that, we can pat ourselves on the back. We’re not complacent, we’re not lazy, and we’re not expressionless. We are, by far, quite the opposite. Our minds and hearts are busy conjuring up ways to make our world a greater place.
I’m not going to say it’s easy, but it’s a necessary process. At the end of the process we can say “we made it” with a sense of fulfillment and joy. I’ve figured that in the meantime we’ve got to roll with life, take our sweet time, and enjoy discovering new parts of ourselves each and every day.
I know it sounds incredibly cliché, but in this process of feeling absolutely lost, I have found pieces of myself. Even better, I’m allowing myself to put the jigsaw together to create an even better me. I will never complete the jigsaw, but that’s now become part of the fun.
How much more of myself is out there to discover? I don’t where I’m going, but I know where I’ve been, and that’s an excellent place for anyone to start.