I feel so lost.
I hear this phrase a lot. And typically it gets me really excited!
No, I haven’t been drinking. Or at least, not any more than normal.
You see, I’ll be at a speaking engagement and someone will come up to me afterwards and say, “I have no idea where I’m going in life or what I’m doing. I want a clear path to go down, but instead I feel completely lost.
Who can blame us for feeling directionless? With some major challenges facing Millennials, there’s a lot to feel lost about in your 20s.
Right when it was Millennials turn to grab hold of the “American Dream” it was exploding right in our face.
For years in my 20s I felt lost too. As I wrote in my book All Groan Up:
“For years I wanted a dove to fly down with a scroll in its beak and drop it into my hand, tipping its little dove hat and saying, “Good day, sir,” like a friendly 1950s mailman. I’d open the scroll and read God’s handwritten, detailed map showing my step-by-step progression for the next fifty years.
Someone must have shot that dove because I still haven’t seen it.”
Now when someone tells me they feel lost, I tell them, “That’s amazing. I’m so glad you feel lost!”
Because as I wrote in 101 Secrets For Your Twenties,
“Being lost might be the exact spot that you will be found.”
You can’t explore if you don’t first get lost
I think as a generation we want to find our purpose.
We want to do something that means something.
We want our life and work to matter.
Yet, we subconsciously expect the path to our purpose to be straight-forward. We want to walk down a well-lit path with a cascading waterfall clearly in view from the start. At least, that was me in my early 20s.
If we can’t handle ambiguity in life, we won’t do anything great.
We have to get lost if we want to explore.
Sure, it might feel like you’re going through a quarter life crisis.
But maybe feeling lost is a healthy, important part of going through a transition.
Exploring and being lost are pretty much the same thing.
All explorers have to first get lost. (click to tweet that)
That’s a big part of the job description.
The biggest difference with just being lost and exploring is that explorers get lost on purpose with purpose for a purpose.
Explorers have a general sense where they’re going. They have guides to help them along the way.
They’re not out there all alone.
Yet, the exact destination and how they’re going to get there is completely unknown.
Explorers don’t follow a map, they make the map as they go.
For many of us, this concept of being at peace while feeling lost is a complete mind-explosion. It definitely was for me in my 20s.
Because we grow up with clear, concise instructions on how to be successful.
We’re given the syllabus at the start of class.
We have a college counselor lay out the next four years for us to graduate with honors.
Yet, Groan Up life is messy, full of zig-zags, start-overs, and “what were you thinking?“
The path to your purpose is rarely straight-forward.
The only way you’ll find a clear direction is by first allowing yourself to get lost.
6 Important Things That Happen to Us When Feel Lost
1. When you’re off-trail, your creativity is put to the test.
When you have to blaze the trail, you have to get creative.
Your genius is stoked when you’re forced to actually use it.
Your creativity grows because you’re forced to use it.
2. There’s a bit of healthy danger that makes your senses come alive
When you’re off-trail, your senses are functioning at a higher level.
You’re hearing more.
Smelling, tasting, and touching in a way you can’t, and won’t, do when you’re on a familiar path.
You take more in because you have to.
Sure you’re afraid, but you move forward anyway.
You move forward in spite of the fear, and then the next time it’s a little less frightening.
3. You’re ready and capable of experiencing life’s unexpected surprises
You can’t be surprised if you see everything clearly laid out in front of you.
4. You don’t get the right answers. You get the right questions.
Succeeding in Groan Up life is not about always finding the right answers. It’s about asking the right questions. And when you’re lost in your 20s, you have no answers.
When you’re lost you’re ready to ask good questions because your life depends on it.
5. As you explore new territory, you find new parts of yourself
Character is rarely developed sitting at a luxury resort.
If you’re surrounded by every resource imaginable why would you go searching for anything beyond?
Your character is being built when everything around you feels like it’s crumbling.
Humility. Perseverance. Faith. Insight. Context. These aren’t refined and defined when everything in your 20s makes complete sense.
When you don’t know where you’re going, you understand more about where you came from.
Ambiguity in life stokes clarity in character. (click to tweet that)
6. Your purpose is found in the struggle
Purpose is rarely honed in the clear-cut. We don’t find our purpose in spite of the struggle, we find it smack dab in the middle of it.
It’s Really Important that You Don’t Always See “The Path”
As I look back at my 20s, I realize now that God didn’t hide the blueprint to my future because he was uncaring to my prayers.
God hid the blueprint it would take to hone my purpose so that my purpose could actually happen.
As I wrote in 101 Secrets For Your Twenties,
Thank God He didn’t show me the syllabus for my 20s.
If He would’ve showed me all the assignments my 20s were going to entail, I would’ve been crushed by it. I would’ve dropped this whole decade like a calculus class and never returned.
God gives us what we can handle, and sometimes that means not giving us the exact thing we cry out for the most.
God keeps our purpose in tact by not letting us see what it’s going to take to get there.
Do you feel lost? Congrats. You’re officially exploring.
Take one step. Then another. You can’t see what’s up around the bend until you get there.
And hey, I’m here to help along the journey. Because you’re not alone in this.
I’m a few steps ahead. I’ll wave you forward. I’ll warn you of the dangers. And I’ll keep encouraging you every step of the way.
When it feels like you want to turn back, remember — The most exciting part of any journey is when you go off trail. (click to tweet that)
What do you think? I’d love to hear from you within the comments on this article on allgroanup.com.