I love getting lost. Most people don’t like losing control of the situation, feeling disoriented and not knowing where they are headed. I find it fascinating.
There is this specific mix of feelings that overtakes me: confusion (from not knowing where I am), aloneness (from having only myself to rely on) and self-reassurance (from knowing that I’ll eventually find my way back). But the most important thing is that when I am lost, I’m absorbed by profound thoughts. Internal conversations are shaping up in regards to what street to take next, whether I should walk straight or take a turn. If I encounter a beautiful sight, I wonder whether I should pause and enjoy it. I can’t decide if I should ask a stranger for directions or trust my guts. I am both strictly focused on finding my way and distracted by the many thoughts running through my head.
I think my fascination with getting lost started when I was a kid, growing up in Bulgaria. Two of my favorite children’s stories were “Alice in Wonderland” and “Pippi Longstocking.” I longed for the adventures Alice & Pippi had embarked on. I was ready to follow my white rabbit into unknown lands.
As a kid, I spent a lot of time in the countryside with my grandparents. I walked the dusty streets of the village and wandered around in the woods. I enjoyed not knowing where I was or, more precisely, being away from the familiar.
I also found joy in people’s attempts to “find me.” Once, my grandparents missed the evening news because they were looking for me outside, by the lake near our house. Another time, my getting lost forced them into ending an old argument with a neighbor in order to recruit her to the rescue team. I distinctly remember my feelings when I was “found.” I was calm and happy. After all, I usually came home having made new friends and discovered new places.
The idea of new friendships and new places was probably what drew me to America 12 years later. The apparent reason for my move to the States was pursuing my undergraduate education at Mount Holyoke College. But the underlying reason behind my decision was that I was ready to get lost again, in a land that offered new adventures.
Here, in the States, I embraced this feeling of being away from the familiar, and with it came the same wave of confusion, aloneness and self-reassurance. By placing myself in a different environment, not only did I encounter more adventures, but I also continued building my identity, which was shaped by new stories. In the classroom, I sat next to women from Brazil, Vietnam and France, all passionate about making a change in this world. I learned about their families, religions, social struggles and academic successes. Outside the classroom, I started recognizing the smell of the New England fall and the curves of the mountains nearby. Away from the familiar home back in Bulgaria, I found another center of comfort behind the gates of Mount Holyoke.
So you might be wondering—now, in my life as a responsible working individual—do I still get lost in efforts to find new adventures? The more I think about it, the more I realize that HubSpot was my new adventure. I intentionally chose to be part of a company culture full of challenges and excitement. My thrill-seeking personality gravitated towards a fast-pace industry that feeds on enthusiasm and creativity. I chose to work with people almost as colorful as the characters from my favorite childen’s stories.
Yes, I am literally still gettng lost. Only a month ago, my roommates and I moved to a new place in Somerville and I had the good fortune to get lost twice. The first time, I got off the bus too early and had to walk in the rain to get to our house. The second time, I completely missed my stop and waited on the bus to return. The whole experience felt so much like “me,” that I had a big smile on my face. I enjoyed that rain. I made friends with the bus driver. I laughed over my silliness…
And so continues my fascination with getting lost. I just cannot afford to miss the white rabbit when it shows up.