The One About Feeling Lost

By Dakota Divinity

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More often than not, I’ve found myself aimlessly wandering and feeling as though I do not have even a singular clue as to where my future is headed. Absolutely zip, zilch, zero. Everything is foggy and unclear. Not an inkling of a hint to be found in the near distance.

This feeling literally drives me up the wall and likely contributes to my anxiety. I’m very much the type of person who likes to have absolutely everything planned out, to the finest details. If things aren’t planned and mapped out, I tend to hyperfocus on the potential negative outcomes that may result from that very lack of planning, with any potential positive possibilities being thrown right out of the window.

I’ll admit it, I catastrophize the unknown with a quick snap of my fingers.

The pre-college graduation version of myself ignorantly thought that they had their entire future figured out. I figured that I would graduate, find the perfect place to live, find my dream writing/communications job, and live happily ever after only a mere three months later. Of course, none of the above happened, because I was too concerned with absolutely everything being perfect and trying to be a people pleaser. I followed what others wanted me to do, instead of creating my own path. I let fear rock my world and the visions that I once saw for myself.

While spending a large chunk of time beating myself up and worrying about the expectations of family, it absolutely did zip for improving my mental health, as

one can imagine. I was completely depressed and tried my best to hide it from everyone. I didn’t want to let anyone in on my secret of not having a single clue as to where my life was headed. I distanced myself, stopped reaching out to loved ones, let texts go unanswered, and began to engage in unhealthy behaviors from my the past. Being almost three hundred miles away from my hometown with no nearby friends or family made it even easier to disappear and disconnect. Most didn’t even notice that something was definitely up, because of the distance. I just played it off as being “busy.” Terrible, I know. I feel incredibly guilty about it now, but it is one of my unfortunate pitfalls as a human. I shut down and disconnect. We all have our own.

I couldn’t bear the thought of being a disappointment and that very fear dictated nearly every decision that I would make. I nearly never took into consideration what it was that I wanted. If I did, I would then second guess myself for even daydreaming about it and write it off as myself just be stupid and unreasonable.

The only truly stupid thing however, was me writing myself off. Deep down, I think I’ve always had a decent sense of what I’ve wanted to do. What’s that, you may ask? It may seem ironic, but writing and/or working within the field of communications. Preferably a mixture of the two.

Here’s where that doubt and fear of failure comes in, though. Growing up, I was your kid who would hide in the back of the classroom, avoid eye contact with practically everyone, and wouldn’t dare raise their hand to speak. In fact, I would do anything possible just to avoid been looked at. I was highly insecure and unsure of my place in this world after the rocky divorce of my parents. Kids in middle school were (and still are) downright cruel and elevated that insecurity further by spreading nasty rumors around that they had heard from their parents about my family. This was devastating. So, staying to myself continued. For me, it was a form of ultimate self-preservation in living within a small town.

I never once told my parents the truth of what was truly going on everyday at school. If they happen to read this piece, it’ll be the very first time that they’ll find out. My family just figured that I was extremely shy and happy to be left in my own bubble. That wasn’t necessarily the case. I just didn’t want to add on to the already existent stress at home by creating another problem that needed a solution.

Once high school hit, breaking the bubble slowly began to take shape. I was desperate to have some sort of connection with others in my peer group, despite my previous efforts to avoid being seen. So, I joined MCJROTC, chorus, and theater. All three of these activities forced me to break out of my comfort zone, as they put me in front of others in the varying positions of center stage and as a Lance Corporal assisting in leading a student platoon of underclassmen.

In college, the growth continued to progress. I took part in multiple leadership and mentoring programs, served as a secretary of two on-campus human rights clubs, and busted my ass to get good grades, which turned out in my graduating a year early. I also completed two communication and photographic journalism related internships as well.

Out of college, I have had a few notable successes. I’ve been published twice in a magazine and have been granted the opportunity to write for some incredible sites, such as this one!

All in all, I haven’t been giving myself nearly enough credit for my accomplishments. While I may still have moments where I feel lost, I know deep within my heart what I want to do, after observing my long established patterns. I want to connect with others. I’m drawn to the complexity of language and the possibility of the connections that can be made with mere strangers, on a global basis. Funny thing is, I’ve actually been forming connections all along, both inside and outside of writing. I’ve just been too caught up in my own doubts to realize it.

If you have taken anything from this piece, I truly hope that it is to learn how to appreciate yourself and how far you have come, and that the future is yours to create.