This I Believe

Amanda - Iowa City, Iowa
Entered on December 7, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

I am often lost. I have been lost in every major city that I have ever been to – from I-35 in Minneapolis to St. George’s Castle in Lisbon, Portugal. I was lost trying to see pandas in San Diego and looking for fake Prada purses in Tangier. I always carry a map, my car has seven. I have learned to embrace being lost, to enjoy the journey while it lasts.

My two brothers and I have been to our grandparents’ home over one hundred times. Last time, we missed a turn, suddenly adding about fifty miles of two lane road. We could have turned around; we recognized that it was wrong almost immediately. We didn’t. Instead, we played “Who is Andy’s high school sweetheart?” in a rousing 20 questions. We debated grad school vs. traveling a seventh continent. We predicted the length of the chore list waiting for us when we arrived—probably growing by the minute. We laughed as we tried to think of the last time we all went on a road trip, and decided it should happen more often.

If life is a journey, I am lost on this one, too. I am in college, trying now to find my way into a future. I have declared three majors at different times; I have completed one semester at each of three schools. I may be taking the long way through this, but I have experienced incredibly diverse classes and people that I never would have met if I was focused on an unwavering goal. If I hadn’t thought that being a doctor was in my future, I would not have taken History of Medicine and learned about Hippocrates, and how our theories of medicine and physiology change over time. If I hadn’t dreamt of being a social worker, I would not have read Anne Fausto-Sterling, or created a photo essay about my community’s issues. I am now studying English with some vague goal, I have learned about the intense and complex way that authors communicate with their contemporaries about their works: the correspondence of Ellison and Wright amazes me.

Every time I start out toward a new destination, in a car or in my life, I set a path, look at a map, but I do not worry if something gets in the way. Sometimes a bump in the road is the best part of the school bus’s trip to school, especially if you are sitting in the back with your best friend. In life, any unforeseen turns are not necessarily wrong turns. These turns reveal an alternate route, maybe a new major, an internship, an opportunity to study abroad. I have found that it is the unexpectedness that makes life wonderful – the “wrong turn” can be the best change. I am always open to a new place, a new way, to enjoy the journey, no matter how it surprises me. I believe in embracing an unexpected turn.