“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” ~Helen Keller
I’ve always loved a good adventure, especially exploring trails off the main path. That is, unless I get lost. Like the time I got lost deep in the woods with two friends when I was 15.
An Adventure in Getting Lost
I remember it perfectly. We are exploring uncharted land behind my friend’s apartment. (There are worse things a teen could be doing!) The sun is getting closer to setting, and my friend wants to take a “short cut” back to the apartment. Yet, instead of getting us back quicker, we find ourselves surrounded by a wall of trees – in a forest we never knew existed.
Darkness begins to fill the spaces between the trees. Thorny plants pierce our legs with weeds halfway up our bodies. We can’t see what we are walking on, but know we need to keep moving. Hours pass, fear sets in, and we have absolutely no idea how to get out of the woods. Everything looks exactly the same in the dark.
After walking many miles away from home, we see a faint light in a clearing. It is a house sitting on a long driveway. We bravely knock on the door and ask how to get back to the main road. (After all, cell phones hadn’t been invented yet!)
We are surprised how far we have traveled in the dark and discomfort, but we are proud of the scars from our adventure.
Usefulness of Being Lost
Have you ever been really, really lost? I don’t mean lost physically, but lost as to how to solve a problem or face a challenge. Did you freeze in fear or renew your determination to keep moving?
I find feeling lost and unsure very frustrating, but I also find it very motivating. My discomfort activates me to push myself and keep moving. I reflectively search myself for answers until I am back on track.
“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” ~Henry David Thoreau
Feeling lost helps us retreat, reflect, and restore. In fact, some researchers describe “depression as a natural restorative process after a sustained stress response” (Dr. Daniel Papero). In this way, feeling lost is a time to recharge by taking extra good care of yourself.
Turn Feeling Lost Into Motivation
Let the dark-woods seasons of life restore you. If you feel lost, let your fear and frustration motivate you instead of paralyze you. Instead of getting angry at feeling lost, you can:
- Look after your body with enough sleep, exercise, and nutrition
- View feeling lost as part of the journey
- Remember that you hold the answers, even if it’s hard to find them
- Know this too will pass
- Connect with others along the way
- Focus on sureness (goals) more than your unsureness (anxiety)
You don’t need to have all the answers to free yourself, or to find your way back. But, you do need to believe in yourself just long enough to see you can and you are.
When has feeling lost motivated you to keep moving?
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Photo Credit: “Evening Sun in the Woods” by Per Ola Wiberg