You’ve stepped into the wilderness of adulthood, and suddenly you find yourself lost. You’re not sure where the trail is. The trees are so high around you that it’s hard to get your bearings. Meanwhile, it seems like other explorers just keep jogging past you with lighter backpacks and a strong sense of purpose and direction. You want to ask for help, but the words don’t come out. All you get is a smile and they definitely all look like they are having more fun than you.
Help, I’m lost!
Does this feel familiar? If so, you’re not alone, although it sure feels like it doesn’t it? Making your way through your early adulthood years can truly feel like navigating the wilderness. Everyone else has a map, cell service, and a traveling companion. All you have is a walking stick you picked up on the trail, and you are running short on water.
Here are some of the ways people can feel lost as they navigate adulthood:
- Uninspired. Life is kind of boring, it’s not as fun as high school or college.
- I don’t want to be an adult, this is hard and I don’t see the benefits.
- It’s overwhelming! There’s so much to figure out from finances, renting an apartment, picking insurance, or doing taxes.
- Adult friendships look different and it’s hard to make new friends as an adult
- Everyone else has it figured out. I don’t even know what direction to go, and what if I’m going the wrong direction?
- There’s no one to tell me what to do, and that was nice to not have to think so hard before I was an adult.
So, here you are, in the wilderness of adulthood, a little lost, feeling alone, and no map telling you where to go next.
How do you find your way through it?
We all know leaving breadcrumbs along the way didn’t work out so well for Hansel and Gretel. Here are 9 tips on how to get unlost as you navigate the rivers, woods, and mountain peaks.
- Appreciate the journey. It’s a cliché, but adulting is really a journey with no destination. While you’ve been feeling lost, have you missed what’s around you? The creek meandering next to you, the wind blowing through the trees, and the quiet crunch of your feet on the pine needles. Stop for a minute, and instead of panicking about whether you’re on the right path, take a look around and soak up the beauty of where you are right now.
- Triangulate your map. Say, what? This is a technique used in navigation.
- Identify the features or landmarks – Where are you right now in life, what is around you that is working, what is not, and what do you want to change?
- Prepare your map so it’s facing true north- Map out some options on where you want to go in life. Emphasis on the word options! Give yourself 3-4 paths that might be interesting for you. It’s ok to have multiple goals, but set some goals so you have something you are moving towards. You might change them along the way, and that’s just fine.
- Take bearings to the landmarks- Given what is around you and where you are right now, what are some different routes you could take to make your way towards those options on your map? There probably are a few routes. Does one of them seem more efficient or direct? Or does the one with the great views seem appealing?
- Get curious about the good parts of being an adult. When you’re in college or high school it might be carefree and fun, but do you want to live under your parent’s rules your whole life? You can’t have one without the other. Check out this article about 6 reasons it’s great to be an adult.
- Discover the fun of personal growth. As a kid you were just learning how to function and eventually take care of yourself. As an adult you get to dive into the interesting stuff like understanding yourself better, appreciating your strengths and recognizing your weaknesses. It’s really cool to understand yourself more and work to become a better human. You will become more confident in your skin as you explore this, which is a great feeling.
- Create your own version of what grown up looks like to you. Adulting doesn’t have to be a boring or miserable slog. Sure, there is a lot of hard work and it’s not always unicorns and rainbows, but how can you make it fun and embrace the freedom to make your own choices?
- Put one foot in front of the other. It’s daunting if all you can see is the distance between where you are and the peak you want to climb. It’s good to get an idea of where you want to go, but instead of setting your sites on that far off destination, break it down into smaller chunks. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other, and celebrate the little wins.
- Get out of your comfort zone and try something new. Sure, it was easier when you lived in a world that you knew well, but do you remember the confining and stifling parts of it? This is your chance to try something new! It may be uncomfortable, but there’s so much to explore in this world, so set out on a path you haven’t been on before, try jumping into the high alpine lake of life–it’s cold, but so exhilarating!
- There isn’t one path in life. Although society often tells us there is only one route to the peak called success, that is far from the truth. As long as you’re working towards something then you’re moving forward. In fact your path might actually lead to more vistas, wildflowers, and helpful people along the way.
- What you do now doesn’t have to define what you do later. Choosing your destination and your path does not lock you into that route for your whole life. There is always time to branch off onto a different trail, and you have no idea what you might encounter along the way that opens up opportunities to explore new terrain in 5, 10, or 20 years from now!
Adulting can be hard, but the journey has so many great parts to it. Lace up your hiking boots, and remember you’re crushing it just by showing up on the trail!
If you enjoyed this post, check out the one that questions whether you can have it all or if that is an adulting myth. And for fun nuggets with images and videos that will make you happy, follow me on Instagram. or sign up for the monthly newsletter created to stimulate your thinking and put a little inspiration into your life.