The Deception Of Direction
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Health and Wellness

The Deception Of Direction

The lies we tell ourselves about direction in our lives.

The Deception Of Direction
Leah Raaflaub

“You have a brain in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”

Dr. Suess

I’m not one of those girls who dread Birthdays, nor the kind that cringe at the thought of becoming a year older. I never have been and I hope I never am. However, as 30 is right around the corner for me, I will admit there are more questions swarming through my mind than ever. I’m convinced it’s some sort of quarter life crisis hitting me late…and let me tell you, it’s not that fun. The biggest question amongst everything bouncing around in my head, seems to be that of direction. Being at an age where my friends seem to be all over the grid, doing all sorts of different things, I start to question the direction I, myself, am headed in. I’ve been thinking very hard about what it is exactly I want, and if I’m headed in the right direction for obtaining it. After a good amount of time swimming in this territory, this is what I’ve concluded as far as direction.


Let’s just get this straight: almost all of us feel like we are lacking direction. Don’t get tripped up on the idea that everyone else has it all figured out and you’re the only one drowning in doubt asking these sorts of questions. It’s not true. The truth is no one has it all figured out. People search for direction in all sorts of ways, on all sorts of different levels. Some are just better at projecting that they’ve got it all together than others. The ones who appear to have it all figured out on a surface level, are sometimes, surprisingly, the ones who feel most disoriented and tangled up inside. Most people I speak with are in the same boat I am, whether they are younger or older. Whether they are studying in school or already in an established profession. Whether they are settled down with a family or single traveling around the globe. All of us, through different environments, situations and sentiments are searching for direction in one way or another.

Don’t knock yourself. The fact that you’re hungry enough in this life to search for direction speaks volumes. It’s okay to feel lost, you’re most definitely not alone. When you feel that you have no direction, the beautiful reality is that you can move forward in any direction you please.


Oh, how glorious to have the possibility of moving forward in any direction… and oh, how very daunting as well. It’s an overwhelming blessing to have so many options available. My advice? Jump in.

This is coming from someone who weighs pros and cons as if all humanity depended on it, and has invested the time equivalent of receiving a master’s degree in over analyzing… jump in.

I have too often made the mistake of judging labeling and predicting a situation or outcome before I have even tested the waters. At times, I’ve mentally over processed jobs that I haven’t even applied for, predicting outcomes and painting false what-if portraits before I have even given chance to the experience. In these instances, I discard incredible opportunities all because I think I know best. I don’t. I never do.

I’m not saying throw out all common sense and dive into any shady situation that presents itself… but take a chance every now and then. We so often get caught up in the larger picture of life, of the big goals that we want to accomplish, that we forget the teensy tiny, maybe even seemingly insignificant steps. What we forget is these small steps are the ones that lead us to those enormous dreams, and without them there’s no chance of achieving anything…no matter how small or grand.

In having no direction, the world is your playground. You can literally try out whatever you’d like and get a taste for exactly what you want and where you are headed. A few years ago, I was offered an internship at one of the biggest television networks in Denver. I predicted and envisioned this fabulous experience where I would be following reporters in breaking news situations, eventually being in the right time at the right place. One thing would lead to the next, and wah-lah, I would become the next Diane Sawyer. Obviously, right? Yeah… not so much.

The internship turned out, in fact, to be making sure the lighting was right and the reporters didn’t trip over stage cords. I kid you not. The closest I ever got to any famous reporters was being barked at to hold the light reflector higher so they looked good. Let me tell you… there were no ‘Diane Sawyer’ moments.

When I discouragingly reported back to my professor about how the internship was going, I was on the verge of tears.

“I seem to be adding more to the list of what I’m sure I don’t want to do rather than the list of what I do want…”

He laughed. “Leah, that’s half the battle… finding out what you don’t want. It’s just as important as discovering what you do want. How would you have ever known this was something you didn’t want until you actually tried it? Many things that seem glamorous on the surface, are truthfully not. On the contrary, many things that you’d be ready to discard because they seem mundane and boring…are really exciting and fun.”

My point? Try it out. You never know until you try. Within time, you will start to have a rough draft of things you like and don’t like, which will make finding a direction smoother. Listen to your intuition, get scared, get excited, and jump in. To anything. To everything. Open yourself up and learn. You really, truly have nothing to lose.


While I’ve circled around in this seemingly directionless territory, I’ve been given a lot of advice. The people who have listened to me rant about my current situation can easily be divided into two categories.

There is the group that stresses upon action, emphasizing the importance of taking matters into my own hands. This group believes destiny is decided by the individual and is a direct result of hard work and persistence.

The other group tells me to calm down, to breathe, and to allow life to unfold as it should and will regardless of how much I try to control. This group believes in a higher power of some sort, feeling that our destiny is already in the books, so not to squander our precious time worrying about finding direction. It’s easy to say the first group believes in running head first into a direction or decision, while the second group feels that direction will make its way to you, regardless of how much worrying you invest in it.

My take? You’ve got to find the sweet spot. It’s a balancing act. Action is a must. That’s not even a question. But there is a point, I believe, after all your hard work is put in, where you must accept the fact that you cannot control everything. Meanwhile, sitting back and waiting for direction to find you, with no effort put in whatsoever is useless. How paradoxical right? I believe it is a perfect mixture of your actions and destiny melded together. Put the work in. Open your eyes and be sure to see how life may be guiding you. Remember above all, that there are certain things you cannot control…and it does no good to waste energy on these things. Life has a funny way of showing you the way when you’re willing to work towards it.


I do not want to contradict this entire article, nor do I want to undermine my words. But… if you take only one thing from this reading, please let it be this: There is no wrong direction.

We often trick ourselves into thinking we are headed in the wrong direction or lacking the right direction. A lot of the time I think I should be confidently set out on a clearly marked path where I don’t question any of my actions. Newsflash: This scenario doesn’t exist. Even during the chance that you find a direction and move confidently forward, you will always have questions. It’s human nature to be hungry, for life, for the next step, for bigger dreams, for bigger goals. We are human and we will constantly seek improvement through all aspects of our lives. Am I doing the right thing? How can I be doing better? These questions are good… they are stimulating. It’s when we begin to question and doubt ourselves that it can evolve into an evil force.

The thing is: Right versus wrong direction is completely determined by you. No one is watching and penciling in your score for where you’re at and what direction you are headed in. Everything is decided upon, within you. You know YOU better than anyone out there, and you’ll feel it in your gut if you sense you’re headed in the wrong direction. Just as your intuition will let you know when something feels right. Your direction is 100 percent yours and no one else’s, what might be a great direction for you might be awful for another, and vice versa. Jump into the direction that’s right for you, and be fearless. The worst that can happen is you find that it is possibly not the direction for you, and you set out to a new one. No experience is ever lost, I truly believe that. Every experience teaches you something, whether good or bad, and adds layers to your being. Remember that you are exactly where you are supposed to be right now, and it’s a blessing to able to choose which direction you’d like to take in life.

Jump in.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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