When I went to the store the other day, I almost bought a necklace that read, “get lost.” To some people, the phrase is an insult, like “go away,” but I don’t read it that way. To me, “get lost” is a motto. A mantra. A blunt, honest reminder. The exact kind of reminder I need.
I’m constantly focused on what’s going on in my own world, and much of my “own world” is actually my email inbox and my twitter feed. I never unplug. I never take a break. In some way or another, I’m always working or thinking about working or at the very least thinking about how I should be working. I spend hours a day searching through internship and job opportunities. I’m always searching for job titles and bylines and whatever else I can find that seems like a concrete stepping stone toward my career. If I take those steps, then I will somehow “find myself.” Find my true passion or purpose or calling.
But why are we so obsessed with this idea of “finding ourselves?” And why do we try to make it into such an orderly, step-by-step process when we’re clearly complex individuals?
When I try to “find myself,” I discover what words to write on my resume. I determine what classes to take and what internships I want and what clubs to join. I find job titles and labels and descriptions that could never possibly describe all of who a person is or what she has done.
Nothing amazing has ever come from trying to “find myself.”
All of the magic I’ve discovered and created has come from getting lost. Losing myself. Stumbling from those seemingly concrete stepping stones that my mind built for me when I was too concerned about what the world thought of me. When I was too concerned about how it would all look on paper.
I lose myself in music and my writing and beautiful books and inspiring magazines and places that seemingly spin the world around and make you question everything you once thought you knew for sure. I can spend hours working on a story and completely lose sense of time. Time does not exist when real stories are happening. Resumes do not exist when you’re out there truly learning and bettering yourself. Your overflowing inbox does not really matter when lyrics and poetry and beautiful, interesting people are sending you real messages: the kind of messages that you try endlessly to remember every word of, but you can’t. You can only remember nostalgic snippets of how you felt when the words hit you hard. You don’t even think to look at your phone during these moments; you are just there, drowning in a story that touches you deeply as you dive into the indefinite waves without the concern of how it will look or what people will think or exactly where it will take you.
You’re just there. Lost. In the exact place you should be even though you never thought you needed it.
The moments that impact us the most aren’t ones that we can plan. They’re not ones that we could ever anticipate mattering in the way that they do. We never expect one sentence or one film or one city or one person to change us entirely, yet they can. But only when we let go a little bit. Only when we realize that “get lost” is the exact opposite of “go away”: stay awhile. Take the world in. Lose yourself in the music. It won’t be concrete, but it’ll take you somewhere.
And more often than not, somewhere is a lot better than where you intended on going.