Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Scenic Route

As I was learning my way around a new city this summer, I got lost quite a bit. What can I say? I don't have a good sense of direction. I didn't mind getting lost, though, partly because I knew it was inevitable, and partly because I know that is how I orient myself in a new place. I remember that last time I got lost because I went past that corner instead of turning, so this time I know better. Oh, I see that road ahead? That means I already went too far. My map was my best friend: I would consult it several times in one trip, because I couldn't hold its contents in my head for long enough.

Of course, later in the summer, I knew the city a lot better. I knew the shortest, straightest ways to the places that I went every day, and I didn't have to get lost, not even necessarily if I was going somewhere new. A good look at a map beforehand and I was probably going to be OK. Still, I wanted to see more of the city, and I wanted to see just how good my newfound sense of orientation was, so I found myself turning off on unfamiliar roads and trying to find new ways to get to the same places. And when I did that, I realized that taking the long way, while less time-efficient and more confusing, was an excellent way to see things that I otherwise wouldn't see and, well, generally enjoy life more.

For someone who has repeatedly found herself taking the long-drawn-out route to everything from graduation to getting over illnesses, and has always therefore felt as if she was a bit backwards and stupid, this was an amazing revelation. OK, so I graduated high school later than the average. So I'm not where the conformist in me thinks I should be considering my age. Aren't I in a really good place right now? Haven't I made friends that I wouldn't have made if I'd started college a couple years sooner? Haven't I learned things that I wouldn't have learned if I'd accomplished things more quickly and easily?

Maybe I shouldn't give myself such a hard time for being "slow". Maybe slow and steady really does win the race, but, even if not that, even if I can't tell yet if it's going to be a path to success, why can't I just think of it as taking the scenic route through life?

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