I Can’t Follow Directions

Kalu Ci

I mean this in every sense of the phrase.

I have an astoundingly poor sense of direction. My childhood home resides in the cookie-cutter definition of a suburban bubble in Connecticut, and despite nothing major having changed since my family moved there in 2002, I still don’t know how to get anywhere. I really love long and aimless drives (it’s the one thing I miss most since moving to a city) but I never pay attention to where I’m going or how I got there. But my mind is never more at ease than when I’m driving for no reason—it’s the closest I feel like I will ever get to experiencing meditation properly without wanting to rip my eyelashes out.

I’m also a terrible cook—which is really offensive to my mother and paternal grandmother, who exchange, like, handwritten chili recipes and opinions on risotto. I get impatient with following the instructions. I was always that annoying kid who read ahead in school and that oddly translated to me never being able to read any form of directions thoroughly enough. I go into cooking thinking I can just skip steps 1-5 and start at step 6 and I probably don’t really need to include eggs even though the recipe requires it.

I paid my friend in promised future drinks if he would put together my IKEA furniture. It was partly because it was Los Angeles in September and my apartment didn’t have air conditioning so I was already uncomfortable and sweating, but mostly because I haven’t met an instruction manual that I didn’t blindly throw out immediately.

Impatience used to charm me. I always thought it was somewhat symbiotic with ambition—it kept you going and going and going and going. You were never bored, you were never stuck, you were never safe. Impatience drove me towards accepting change in large spoonfuls that would force me to overcome my fear of anything unfamiliar.

Last summer, I overheard a friend of a friend describe someone as “being comfortable in uncomfortable situations and uncomfortable in comfortable situations.” I have this crippling fear of forgetting things—I make meticulous lists all over the place—and have a log of quotes in my phone. I remember writing this one down.

The problem with living impatiently is when the high wears off. I easily become bored with people. My brain shuts off during conversations sometimes. It takes very little to dwindle my excitement about something I felt psychotic about only a week ago. I feel out of place. I resent the present.

The problem with living impatiently is that I’m always expecting there to be a Next Step or Solution that will fix everything. That there must be some kind of place or person that will step into my life and finally finally finally everything will click and make sense.

I’m obsessive with that idea—that eventually the need to be impatient will go away and I will be at peace and feel calm and suddenly everything will be quiet. Because I get bored with my own impatience.

The problem with living impatiently is that I feel so determined in my need to continue ignoring directions. I see all of these articles about what my 20s are meant to be like and feel like and I get irritated. I become passive when I’m explicitly told “this will help you.” I don’t like being told what to do. I get impatient with the numbered list of things I’m supposed to follow to get out of this—don’t those lists always seem to be written in a menacingly calm voice? As if it’s the easiest thing in the world to follow?—and I just can’t help but look at them and start reading from step 6 anyway. TC mark

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