Can You Give Me Directions to…?

Here’s a tip: If you see me walking down the street, and you are lost, don’t ask me for directions because that will make two of us. I seriously couldn’t direct you out of a paper bag if all but one side were sealed. In fact, I would probably point you in the direction you came from and ask if you’ve tried “that way” yet.

Honestly, I think it’s something about the spatial reasoning of it all. I know people who are good at Geometry who can sort of visualize the shapes in their head, but I can hardly pick a square from a rectangle, let alone tell you where to go when there’s a fork in the road.

And as irony would have it, time and time again, I find myself walking around my complex at work and being stopped by people that ask me for directions to offices that I either don’t know where they are or I know exactly where they are and I can’t explain how to get there. (Uhm, did you try going around the circle and then taking a left after you’ve gone around twice?) And do you know what happens as soon as I walk away from their car? I know exactly how to get to their destination, and I also know the easiest, fastest way to do it. (I must be the only person on this planet that can lose someone by trying to help them.)

This is a frustrating experience for everyone involved, and I used to feel really bad about it. Until I realized that giving directions is a lot like giving advice. You have to tell someone where to go without having the same experiences or knowledge as them. So, you try to relate what you’ve gone through, how you’ve gotten there, and how if they do blank and blank, they’ll arrive there, too. (Not to mention that you may not be telling them the fastest or best way, but it’s what you know.)

And even when they ignore you and your advice in favor of their own ideas and experiences, you still feel somehow responsible for steering them wrong. Almost as if you weren’t communicating clearly enough, almost as if your path was wrong, too.

But that’s not true at all. Because from the very beginning, that person was going to do what he or she thought was best to do, no matter if they had your blessing in the form of advice or not. If he or she was driving down a road that didn’t “look” right to them, they would take it upon themselves to try a different path, which would invalidate your “directions” entirely.

You are no more liable for someone not following your advice as you are for someone following it. In the end, it is entirely up to them in terms of what they do with your information, just like when you give someone directions. You can give them step by step diagrams, and it’s possible that it still isn’t going to bring them to their destination.

Now, if you’re thinking that this has been one thought-provoking conversation after a couple of people asked you for directions, Bailey, then you’d be right.

But I think there’s a real take-away here. It’s time to de-emphasize giving advice in favor of encouraging people to follow their hearts and seek their own truths.

Okay, okay, following your heart won’t get you to the mall, but it does work anywhere else a GPS is not required.

Held Back

I’m not sure if anyone gets held back in school anymore. I feel like nowadays students can go to summer school or do some extra credit to boost their scores and keep themselves from becoming little Ferris Buellers. But once upon a time, if you failed a couple classes in a grade, then you would have to stay back until you were taught a thing or two.

Sometimes, I think life is holding me back a grade.

Why? Because I can’t seem to move forward. And I’m sure at one point, everyone has felt this way. But if you haven’t, it sort of feels like you should have accomplished so much more at this time in your life. It’s a crippling sense of your own personal failure, and it is coupled with the aromatic scent of ramen noodles and spilled beer.

I mean, I am constantly hearing how one decision someone made in their twenties completely changed everything for them. Yes, the moment I decided to live in the wilderness of Alaska is when I realized that I was meant to be a tuba player. 

So, I ask myself: Shouldn’t I be doing something…I don’t know…important? Before I get too numb to the world and start having sleep-deprivating children?

And the troubling part is every other 20-something I know (EXCEPT ME) seems like they’re moving right along in the current called life. They’ve already figured it out. They land a job, move out, and find their soulmate in about a month. And a month later, they’re pregnant. Not that I’m totally envious of all that. (I like sleep way more than I’d like a child right now. But you can eat whatever you want…)

But really, what gives?

And sure, everyone tells you that you shouldn’t rush it. You’ll get there. You’re a late bloomer. You’ll figure it all out. But I can’t help but think that I’ve been waiting my whole life to grow up. And at the same time, I’m still waiting for it to hit me that I already am.

Which is why I’ve come to the very sound hypothesis that I’m being held back a grade in life. For some reason, the universe is confident that I am not ready. And if I think about it, I think whoever is making that decision is right. I’m not ready. I need time to puzzle things out about the rest of my life, even though the calendar says that it’s time that I had everything together.

But more than that, I also feel that I have more to learn. I honestly think that life has been trying to show me, trying to help me understand, what I need to do to pass this grade level, and I’ve been ignoring it. It’s like I have a blindfold on, and I’m lifting my foot up to step over an obstacle, but when my foot hits brick, I realize that I can’t step over the obstacle because it is an entire wall that I need to scale. So, I reach out and feel along the wall and realize that I don’t have the tools for climbing the wall, either. I’m not equipped yet, and I think life knows it. But I’m also not sure when that will happen for me. So, I grow impatient, and I bloody my knuckles from hitting the wall out of frustration.

The point is, I don’t know where I’m going or what I’m doing or even when I’ll get there. That’s for life to decide. But I also need to trust in the process. Because I’ve always been exactly where I’ve needed to be before. And I will get there again, someday. And so, assuredly, will you.