Anonymous (1994): German
1- What do you understand under feeling lost?
For me, there are different types of feeling lost:
- Feeling lost in a city because you do not know how to navigate.
- Feeling lost caused by uncertainty regarding what to do (for example with your life or what step to take next).
- And feeling lost because you are in a place or around people where you do not feel comfortable, thus not feeling at “home” (whatever home might mean to any specific person – for me, feeling home is a setting where I can be exactly who I am without worrying).
2- Please, describe a specific situation when you felt that way?
When I returned from 9 months abroad in Central America I felt especially lost. It was the cliché of “post-travel depression” one could say, in addition to ending a relationship and worrying about where my career should lead me.
I felt lost back at home but all the wanderlust to go somewhere else disappeared as well. I was almost done with my studies and I did not know what my next step would be.
In order to be more focused, I dropped two courses of my degree. I spent time with myself when I felt like being alone and I spent time with friends when I felt like being pushed out of my loneliness.
I tried not to pressure myself to do anything but to find my inner self – by myself. I figured out that it is okay not to get all the things done I planned and not to let myself be pushed by others. My parents wanted me to do things differently but I didn’t.
3- Which three tools helped you to overcome or to deal with those moments?
A jar of happiness
Friends gave me a “jar of happiness”. I was asked to write down notes with everyday moments when I felt well and “like myself” and throw them in there.
Whenever I felt lost, I could read through those little notes and remember, that feeling lost is not the only state that I know. What is more, there are so many little moments of “feeling stable” yet to come.
In general, writing and collecting ideas, thoughts, and aspects of what I wish for helps me to get my head around what I really want and then feel less lost.
The concept of mindfulness in terms of emotions is a tool for me: the acceptance of my emotions – negative and positive.
We are not made to always feel at ease with our surroundings or with ourselves. But being aware of this fact and accepting it helps to overcome those moments easier.
Sit down and tell yourself “I have a rough day / I feel alone / nobody understands me” or “I am sad/angry/ lost” – “and this is okay!”. I allowed myself to be lost. I allowed myself to take time and be slower than I wished to be.
4- Which main lesson or result did you get out of those more challenging times?
When being lost, at some point it is necessary to find yourself again. This is the obvious circle of life – nobody can be lost forever! It takes time to find yourself, your place and who you are but it will happen.
5- What could be done to help somebody who is feeling lost?
When you notice that a friend of yours is feeling lost, the best thing to do is giving him the opportunity to share his experience. Let this person express his or her feelings, thoughts, worries and uncertainties – and also his or her goals, successes and wishes.
Show this person, friend or stranger, that you are there to help them find a way back to themselves. In the end, everybody has to find his or her path by him or herself. Still, to be taken by the hand and to have some company makes the entire situation more comfortable. Maybe, you even start feeling secure and supported instead of lost.
6- Is there anything else you would like to add regarding this topic?
If we are honest with ourselves, the reason we can feel lost is that we have so many opportunities. We have the privilege to get lost, go out and find ourselves.
We are not pressured towards a specific way of life which would equal to a given path where nobody would have the chance to get lost. Being able to step away from our current path is a gift. New friends, experiences, places to explore and fulfilling yourself is the outcome of taking that step.
Nevertheless, feeling lost is the price we pay for this luxury of abundant opportunities. But in the end, loss and reward balance out and what we receive is freedom. Freedom to decide who we are, where we go, who we want to be and who we want to be with.