I have been lost. In more ways than one, really- physically, figuratively, metaphorically, in a city that I’ve never been to before while it’s late at night and I’m by myself and there’s no taxis on the street to take me home… in the post-grad life where I have no idea what I’m doing…You get the picture.
But while that night when I was lost and alone in a suburb of Vienna was frightening, now I know that getting lost is a really important part of life and and travel and there’s a lot that can be gained from the experience.
Getting lost is a part of life, part of every journey that we need to go through, in travel, in finding a job, in relationships. It is inevitable when we take risks and work for what we want and love or to get the best travel experience possible in a new city.
So do not fret, take that leap of faith and do not be afraid of getting lost. In reality, it can be clarifying and the most important step you may take on whatever journey you are on and here’s why.
It makes you realize what’s important to you
Getting lost puts everything in perspective. It’s not until you’ve got no where to go that you realize that hey, if you get robbed, you won’t really miss your iPhone and that the euros in your wallet are just metal and paper that can be replaced.
When you’re lost without a path in life, you are forced to seek your priorities in your next step. It wasn’t until I found myself without a plan after graduation that I realized that I really just wanted to live somewhere new. And here I am, in DC figuring out life on the East Coast.
You become open to new and creative ideas
Whenever you’re lost, you always are searching for some type of way home. Whether you’re struggling with an addiction and looking for some type of help, or simply having to gain the courage to ask complete strangers if they can help you call a cab in German, getting lost opens your mind to finding solutions.
In the physical sense, you could choose to get lost in a city (please do so with some knowledge of the language and during daytime), and you could find a new restaurant trying some new local food with pig brain in it (true story). Without getting lost, I probably never would have tried the best Spanish tortilla of my life or met the incredibly funny Spaniards who worked at that small, family tapas restaurant.
You find your strength
After being lost for a great deal of time, you will find some small ounce of courage to ask for help. Even if it is in the smallest of ways, your bravery will come through in your journey to find a way back home. Sometimes you’re not the one that originally seeks the help and you have someone gently push you in the right direction for recovery.
When you’re lost in a brand new city, you have to find the courage to age to ask a stranger for directions, to walk with confidence through the city and try not to stand out as an outsider, and to find any way to get un-lost.
So my friends, don’t be afraid to get lost. To roam a city with no meaning and find a cute restaurant where all the locals hang out. To try some new journey in your life knowing that the path could become muddled and you might need some help getting back on your feet. To open that new business and be a little bit lost even though you know you have the skills and resources to make it happen.
Take chances, breathe in, and keep moving one step forward.