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Day 1: Directions Are Your Friend

Jeff Bell

It’s funny how sometimes we can feel lost in a world where we as individuals are so intricately connected to everyone around us. You’d think with all this technology, bringing people thousands of miles apart and separated by oceans together, would make us feel the exact opposite. I’m sure this has been documented by people much smarter than me with a wall of degrees that I can never expect to match-

Man, I wish I had a wall of degrees. Actually, my pretty sweet wall of pop-culture artwork is an okay substitution.

-but I believe it all comes down to this desire to be what everyone else expects you to be. I know this isn’t a new concept because people have been attempting to live up to others expectations ever since the first caveman invented the wheel and the Neanderthal in the next cave over was forced to invent fire*.

*EDITORS NOTE: I did not look up to see what order the wheel and fire were invented. Maybe if I had one of the aforementioned degrees or 30 seconds to Google the answer…

This desire has only increased 1000 fold (an actual unit of measure…he lied) with the invention of social media where we went from seeing our classmates once every 15 years to knowing exactly what they had for brunch yesterday when visiting their Aunt Mertle.

This constant connection and “one-upping” another person eventually leads many to a place of uncertainty in their life. A point where they’ve tried so hard to be someone that they no longer know who they themselves are.

And it’s a scary feeling to suddenly lose your identity.

Not like the movie¬†THE NET staring Sandra Bullock from 1995, though that is pretty entertaining if not dated film…

When someone doesn’t know who they are anymore, they’re left in a state of uncertainty where they don’t know if decisions they’ve made are correct or if friends they have are real. You stand there on a balcony overlooking the city and all you can think to yourself is “Who am I?”.

But that’s not the worse of it. For some, that’s as far as they go. They stay in that state of uncertainty and abandoned-like feeling for the rest of their life, grasping onto other people’s personalities and piecing together a kind of Frankenstein-like emotional monster.

I haven’t gotten that far but I’ll honestly say that I’ve lost myself, however, mine stems back to a period before social media was a big a thing. I lost myself during college as the result of a few decisions that changed my life in a way that I wasn’t expecting and ultimately destroyed my “perfect plan” of a life I had before me. Once I wasn’t able to get my dream job after college and resorted to working at a retail store for a handful of years, I found myself unsure of what to do next. This ultimately lead me to start thinking that maybe the vision that I had for myself growing up was wrong which gradually caused me to start abandoning the parts of my personality that I deemed “wrong”.

As time went by, I held close the few pieces of who I truly was and still believed in, but amped up their strength to cover the areas of my personality that I was lacking. This…is no good.

It’s like trying to paint the Mona Lisa but using only greens, reds, and a little gray. You end up with a finished piece that resembles her but isn’t the true artwork.

This lost feeling continued for the next 10 years of my life, never quite knowing who I was but having a moment here and there where I was reminded of a good aspect of my former self. I’m now sitting here, looking at myself, and not liking this uptight, “by the rules”¬†shell of the guy I was before college. I know I need to be better. I know I need to relax and to find ways to open my eyes to the world around me instead of letting it pass by.

And the woman in my life who I trust and love the most suggested an idea. This idea is to spend 5 days straight focusing on a single sense a day and writing down all my thoughts in regards to it. This allows me to accomplish a few things, first and foremost practicing to open my eyes to other experiences in the world, ones that most people take for granted. It also causes me to slow down from my often hectic, fast paced thinking and focus on a single thing. It’ll also benefit my vocabulary and writing skills which, despite the masterfully written blog post you’re currently reading, have been a bit lacking as of late.

I’ll be keeping a pad of paper with me every day at work and at home and will write down these thoughts and senses as the day goes by. I plan on including my daily findings here on my blog as separate posts so you can check out my progress. I have no idea how well this is going to work for me, but giving me something to do like this will hopefully be a step in the right direction of rediscovering myself and making me feel like a whole person again.

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