We agonize over our lostness. We lament over our lack of direction. We aim and aspire to find our ways toward better futures, but here is what we fail to acknowledge: being lost is the easy part.
Being lost is a directionless wasteland where no turn is the wrong turn because no coordinates chart your course. Being lost is stressful and frustrating and ceaselessly inconvenient but it also possesses no real threat. When you’re astray, you have so little left to lose. Staying lost is the easy and effortless part. The hardest part – the part that nobody ever talks about – is letting yourself remain found.
The hardest thing is arriving at a present you may never have expected or wanted. The hard part is giving up your aimless wandering and conceding to live right in the middle of your new reality, with your ties to the past lying severed and the whole future stretched out before you. With just your two shaking hands on the steering wheel and no front-seat driver to guide you. The hardest thing is refraining from turning that car around at the first sign of inclement weather and heading right back to the wasteland you came from. Because that’s what they don’t tell you about being found – it means you have to weather so many storms to stay put.
So what do you do, when you know where you are but not quite where you’re going? How do you stay found in a world full of twisting roads and unnavigable jungles? How do you commit to this present that you do not entirely want and a future that you’ve not yet arrived at?
Here’s the thing about staying found:
You stay found by accepting that everything’s changed. Not just by subtly acknowledging it but by actively reminding yourself, every single morning of every single day until it finally starts to sink in – things will never be the same as they were. You let the words “different” and “never” sink under your skin; infiltrating your bloodstream and poisoning every last hope you once had for the past to carry on. You let the intense discomfort of loss and uncertainty become you, taking up residence inside your heart.
You stay found by refusing to look back. By reminding yourself that where you’re going is more important than where you’ve been and that you may just have to blindly believe that for as long as it takes. So when you’re scared, you look forward. When you’re uncomfortable, you look forward. When you’re at a loss of what to do or where to go or what to hold onto next, you look forward. You look at what you could have, not at what you’ve lost. You move closer to who you could become, when you so desperately want to regress into who you have been.
You stay found by mapping your own coordinates. By telling them to friends and loved ones, “I am here. I have marked my new territory and I have decided that this is what matters to me now.” You stay found by accepting that new things are close to your heart now, regardless of how terrified or out of control that makes you feel. You accept that you once again have things you could lose and that losing them would hurt. But you’re going to take a chance on them anyway. You’re going to decide that the risk is worth it one more time (and always one more time).
You stay found by investing yourself. By not shying away from new people, new experiences, new chances, new ways of life because they don’t measure up in every way to what you left behind. You stay found by accepting that ‘different’ is not synonymous with ‘inferior’ and so you let differences make their way into your life. Let them change you. Let them become the entirety of what is coming next.
Because the thing about staying found is that you have to commit to it. You have to let the new place you’ve arrived at be uncomfortable and scary and a little bit sad sometimes, too. You have to remind yourself that the pain of growing into bigger shoes beats the pain of cramming your feet into ones that just no longer fit you. That one pain is going to make you better, not stunted or held back.
You stay found by letting the past fall away a little bit more everyday and by letting the present take its place – by letting the good of what is replace the painful nostalgia of what’s past.
You stay found by keeping yourself diligently and deliberately invested in whatever life you’ve chosen, even on the days when you want so desperately want to fling yourself back into the no-mans-land of being lost. Because the truth is, being lost is the easy part.
It’s staying found that takes strength.
It’s the sticking it out that takes strength.
It’s the daily commitment to the new, uncertain life that you’ve chosen that takes every ounce of energy you have left inside you.
But it’s that same energy that grows you. The same strength that begins mapping your course. The same perseverance of character that makes the no-mans-land you once arrived at someplace comfortable. Some place familiar. Some place less like a random set of coordinates and a whole lot more like home.
If you can just stay found long enough to let it be.