Editor’s Letter: On Being Lost & Finding YourselfBy Angelica Malin
I’m writing this week’s Editor’s Letter in bed, which is totally breaking the rules. I’m starting to wonder whether rules exist at all anymore.
Yesterday I had a white chocolate Magnum for breakfast.
I go for walks for the sake of walking, rather than the reward of purchasing a latte.
I sometimes stop work in the mid-afternoon, and just sit, staring into the midday sun.
Jobs, identity, relationships, plans, travel… Everything is changing, the tectonic plates of our lives shifting underneath us, whilst we wile away the hours baking bananas into bread and watching Tik Tok.
The papers are full of productivity tips. Everywhere you look, there’s a wellbeing expert offering tips on how to work from home successfully and create structure to your day. I can feel the collective desire to make sense of things at the moment. To fill each hour, as if that’s our roadmap back to safety.
But let’s dig a little deeper: why are we so obsessed with creating structure and routine? Why do we feel the need to create boxes of time around ourselves right now? Why are we even striving to be productive? Is it in the hope that structure will help us feel calm and ‘normal’? Is it meant to quell the constant bubble of anxiety in our chests?
Here’s a thought: maybe we’re scared of what the empty space will reveal to us.
We’re so used to rushing – to meetings, to plans, to restaurants, to the last tube – that we race through life, often distracting ourselves with material things and overlooking the interior.
Because sometimes we need to get lost.
Being lost is actually about accepting that there is blank space in your life.
Yesterday I got very lost in Hampstead Heath. I wandered around, without a hint of a plan, appreciating spring in all its blossoming glory.
There’s a great line in Holly Bourne’s novel How Do You Like Me Now which I think about often: “It’s better to be lost than stuck”
It’s better to be lost than stuck.
That sentiment resonates with me so much right now, because being stuck at home, ironically, is making so much of our lives un-stuck. What’s happening, without the busyness of the outside world to distract us, is we’re being forced to confront so much hard stuff – about our own lives, happiness, relationships. The experience is uncomfortable, painful at times, but it’s wholly valuable.
If you’re willing to lean into that discomfort, you’re basically becoming your own therapist.
Whether it’s work, relationships, family, priorities… so much is shifting right now. Our lives have become fluid, some things are falling away, other things are replacing them. How many people have you seen talking about how they’ve realised who their true friends are now. The same is true for me – it’s like oil and water, our lives are being broken down into their essential parts.
Change will inevitably follow this time. I think to make that change as positive as possible, first you must resist the urge to create order right now. Don’t run from feeling lost.
I know you’re scared. I am too. I see that and I honour it. It’s easy to feel lost right now, overcome with the fog of panic in the air. But there’s opportunity here, too, to take stock of our lives & really question things – what and who matters to you? What’s not serving you? Where should you put your energy?
If you do one thing today, get a pen and paper and figure out right now what’s worrying you. Write a list, find all the edges of your pain and sadness, and vow to actually listen to yourself. You really have no choice now, because you can’t lose yourself in the office hum drum, a noisy bar or a sticky dance floor at 3am.
You were never going to find the answers in the bottom of a bottle of Tequila or in the arms of a stranger, but now you don’t even have the choice.
Write a letter to yourself. Treat yourself and your worries with compassion. You don’t have to make friends with uncertainty, but you can make peace with it.
Sometimes life is about letting go. The more lost you let yourself feel, the more freedom actually you’re acquiring to let your life go down a new path.
Allow yourself to get lost. You might just discover at the end of the journey, you find yourself.