Once was Lost
You should let yourself get lost while traveling, I’ve been told. It exposes you to places you wouldn’t never discovered, it introduces you to people you’ve never met. It’s all part of the experience. Some might say it is the experience. I’ve done my part in glorifying it. But getting lost can become a habit.
Who here has been through a quarter-life crisis, raise your wine glass? It’s that post-college period of your life where you are transitioning out of an academic setting for the first time and adjusting to the way the rest of your life is. You’re making new friends, trying new cities, winging new jobs. And then you realize you don’t know anything about life or yourself, and you feel a bit stupid, a bit exposed. You start making rash decisions, hoping to jolt yourself into a direction in life, but you can’t seem to find it. You date people who make you barf. You make basic professional mistakes that take you down ten pegs. You bulldoze your finances for a last minute trip to South America. You, my friend, are in the quarter-life crisis.
The generation that followed World War 1 is called the Lost Generation. Disillusioned by war and politics, wasted on an urban party lifestyle, chased by ghosts of their parent’s traditions they no longer understood or believes. No wonder they provoked Prohibition, bobbed hair, and ridiculous indulgence that led to the stock market crash. Wars and rumors of wars. Sound familiar?
They were lost. So are we. So am I.
I’m living under a wrestling match of two realities: the independent gypsy girl whose free spirit refuses to be tied to one place, to a 9-5 schedule, to 10 days of vacation a year…
And the girl who is tired. The girl who wants something constant in her life for more than just a year. The girl who wants to build roots into her community, to invest into her career, to deepen her friendships, maybe even fall in love…
I want both. I believed I could have both. And now I don’t know.
If there is one word that defines my life right now, it is conflict.
On a global sense of things––I can’t think of the horrible things happening to my country right now without weeping. I feel like every day our society takes a step backwards. I feel trust in our government slipping through our fingers like savings going toward student loans.
On a personal sense––I’ve been an expert lately at picking fights, at taking things far too personally, at making mountains out of molehills. I’m exhausting people. I’m exhausting myself. I’ve spent the better part of this week in tears. Dramatic? Sure, that’s an easy label, go ahead stick that on it. But there is something deeper underlying all this emotion. Something more important.
This conflict has set me hard in front of a painful mirror, and the girl I see right now is the one I like to forget. The ugly version I keep hidden away and forget about til she sneaks out and runs rampant, setting fire to all the relationships I value the most, like a runaway madwoman with a torch in hand.
I’ve tried taking on new hobbies. I’ve tried traveling. I’ve tried packing my social calendar to the point of exhaustion. I’ve tried pouring myself into work. Nothing breaks the storm. Nothing brings me peace.
I’m left prying and pulling and tugging at my heart. Left to wonder:
Am I actually this bad of a person and I’ve been lying to myself this whole time? Has everyone else let me believe this lie about myself this whole time?
Is anything I’ve done with my life so far of value? Or am I just making up excuses to make it all make sense?
Does my faith really matter anymore? Do I believe?
Will I ever find work that I find fulfillment in without tipping over to the side of workaholism?
Are my friends true? Am I true enough to them?
Why am I so comfortable loving my family but not spending time with them? Am I a bad daughter for being so independent?
Why do I need the approval of others so much to feel the sense of my own self-worth? If someone puts me down or insults me, why do I run to someone else to counter that opinion?
Why am I so self-aware? How can I channel all this energy used to pry and peek into my own soul into bettering the lives around me. Am I really so self-consumed? When did it get this bad?
My roommate said I had to end this post on a positive note. Ugh. Fine, just for you, Hannah.
I’m learning we are all this mix of good and bad. And sometimes we get off-kilter. Our situations pull out the bad in us more than good. But the situation didn’t create that bad in us. It simply gives what was already there a stage to perform.
Part of being a good person, I think, is knowing you are just a few snide comments, a few mean thoughts away from being a bad person. Just a few poor decisions. It keeps us compassionate, keeps us humble. And those are two virtues no one would apply to me lately. But they are virtues the world needs. Virtues I need. Could it be that by looking deeply into our darkness, we find a renewed need for our light?
Maybe it’s only by getting lost that we find our way.