Being okay with being lost

"Not all those who wander are lost," but maybe some are. What happens then?

This semester has seen me living a much different kind of life than whatever I'd foreseen over winter break. February has come and gone, and somehow I feel like the semester still hasn't started.

I keep questioning myself lately, more so than usual. I am so lucky. I have so many opportunities and I am in a place with so many ways to be connected to people and I have a lot of material and societal blessings. What can I improve on? How can I use it to spread it to the people around me? How can I spread it to people who are not near me? Why do I become so caught up in my own day and schedule that I waste precious moments I could spend making someone else's day better?

Life is so short. Have I really lived my life if I haven't done something truly worthwhile for others?

As everyone knows about me, I'm a relationship-based person. I love building relationships with people and walking with them on their journeys, laughing with them, crying with them, celebrating with them. Friendships, familial relationships, mentorships. All of it.

Yet only recently have I found myself trying to be a more "fun" person rather than a better person. I've gone out of my way to seek approval and friendship from people just because I think they're my close friends, as if I'm only just barely staying "cool" enough to be kept around. Beth McColl said it best in a tweet the other day: "I can't watch myself nurture a neglectful relationship, or try and cheat rejection by working harder to be liked."

...which is what I saw myself doing, and I'm done with that. Yes - I want to be friends with so many people. I want to love on my friends (almost to the extent of Leslie Knope), but I can't force that upon anyone. If you do many things for someone who wants you to be their friend, it's entirely different from someone who's wondering why you're investing in a relationship that's not mutual.

I often post about the people around me on Instagram, but the most meaningful moments of my life usually don't make it. Instagram is just a highlight reel. Substance comes from the daily conversations, the late-night food runs, the phone calls when you absolutely need someone to talk to whether it's about a sudden heartbreak or Chance's Grammys performance. Sometimes I feel emotionally closer to people hours away than people who are right here on campus with me; I have been so frightened of losing these relationships, as if I'm just not worthy of friendships where people really want me around, but for once I need to step away from being so focused on trying to see if my friends view me as a friend. The way to invest in myself isn't by gaining others' approval - it's by investing in the community I'm in and trying to make a single drop of change in this rapidly changing, occasionally frightening, always giving world. The world gives to me - I can give so much more back.

So I'll keep doing this -- this floating in limbo as I begin a new way of being part of this community. I don't know where I fit, but maybe now without searching so hard, I'll find somewhere I belong where I'm not too loud, too quiet, too annoying, too boring, too innocent, too non-innocent, too... everything. This world is wide enough.