I’ve always been terrified of direction. Direction means following the path that somehow springs us from pre-K to university to a real, adult job in the likes of twenty years. Direction assumes that we have some sort of general idea where we are going or where we might end up, and sometimes does not account for the falters that we face as human beings. Some people praise direction because it allows them to slither away from the responsibility of deciding who they are with a lack of their prerequisite path. I fear direction for that same reason.
Back up to seventh grade of middle school. My best friend and I pledged to dye our hair blue and red and wore turquoise eye shadow while donning all black ensembles because we wanted to be “different.” Being different was not the problem that we faced. The problem was the means we took to be different and the way that we decided would be best to make it clear that we were not like the “popular girls,” or the “athletes.” Add up a few too many lengthy letters to boys that did not know me that I swore I loved, a hormone imbalance in my piqued brain and a disheveled household and the result was simply, horribly, me.
Direction led me down a spiral of pain and hatred. There was no cure when I looked for it, so instead I was brought down a yellow brick road of means that no one should have to take. There was no fear in a razor blade and a day gone by lacking the necessary nutrients. There is no use in explaining further, because this path continued bringing me further. I found comfort in people with these same habits, people who would walk down this nightmare with me instead of show me out of it quickly and elegantly. They say that misery loves company, but I never believed it until I saw it firsthand.
Then I was flown south to Louisiana to explore the mighty New Orleans with my still volatile family. I remember some sort of comfort in the muggy weather because it gave me a valid excuse to wear sweaters that would cover my secrets, my escapes, my unsound addiction to a razor blade. I can clearly remember sitting at lunch, forcing bits of laughter out of my weak body when the first Band-Aid peaked out of my striped navy sweater. My sister locked eyes with me, pulled me into the fancy bathroom and threatened to tell my parents if I didn’t first.
The rest is history because that’s when direction finally took a turn and did its job for me. There is living proof all around us that we can survive adversity, but somehow the rocks before our survival approaches are not considered in the path that we are assumed to walk on the very day we are born. I inflicted pain on myself for five years of nineteen and starved myself for three. My fear of direction is somehow intertwined.
After our family vacation to hell, I met with several therapists, eventually found the right match and eventually walked myself off of the yellow brick road that had brought me into the horrifying lifestyle that I had become too comfortable with. I began to understand my path, I began to want to live for tomorrow, for education, for a family and for myself. There are days or weeks or years that aren’t considered in the depths of our stories or paths because accounting for rocky roads is something we would prefer to mask ourselves from. Adversity is not scary, it is realistic. Adversity is part of my direction and without it, I would not be passionate, I would not laugh at myself every time I walk into a room and I would not understand the importance of truly being strong.
There is no real, pure direction in our lives. Any second of any day can change your direction or bring you into a new place or a new mindset. But direction is unfalteringly what we have to thank for our lives, even if maybe we would be better off without it. It’s okay to lose yourself in it, but don’t forget what route you’re really here for.