What It Feels Like to be Lost

Sarah Benes // As told to by Sarah Benes

“Four years of high school feel so short when you’re the one living them, so make the most of your time,” wise words from an old friend. As I entered Antioch Community High School at the start of my freshman year, everything was a blur. I was the definition of lost both mentally and physically. Dwelling on the idea that if what my friend told me was true, my introduction to the real world of jobs, after high school and college, would be here soon. If that was the case, I would not be prepared at all; I mean, I still had to hype myself up in the mirror before classes each day.

I was in denial of what my friend told me for a good amount of time. There was simply no way that high school could fly by at the snap of my finger. Boy, was I wrong. Two years have gone by since freshman year, and it still feels like it was yesterday. Now, I am in the home stretch of my junior year, just as lost as when I first arrived.

Most of my life has been spent trying to find my passion, the thing that will keep me going, my purpose. Junior year hit so hard in that way. This past school year has made me question so many things about myself and what I dream my future to be. I went from having the basics of my future planned out in early high school to mere conflicts. When I say this, I mean I completely started over.

Everything I possibly thought of for my future was wiped, and I had to go on a long search for what I want and my interests. I reevaluated each aspect of my life, from sports to career path. I developed a love-hate relationship with the sports, cross country and track and their unknowingness of what opportunities I may or may not have to play in college. My aspirations in the creative job field, challenging the old dreams of being a lead doctor in medical breakthroughs like my past family was—the growing lack of motivation to follow through on just about anything I find joy in. Bouts of depression and stress came with the start of 2020, restarting my thoughts on the ‘perfect life’ I had planned for once I graduate. With the restart of evaluating what it is I wholeheartedly want to do, came some self-reflection.

You go through four years of high school only to go to at least four more years of college and then we are off into the real world. So many things are bound to happen in what will feel like such a short span of time. How am I supposed to plan the entirety of the next chapter of my life right now? There’s so much to consider: finding my right college fit, trying to get scholarships, looking at playing sports in college, determining my major and more. In all honesty, life got ten times more challenging when I realized I don’t have any clue how I want to go about the categories mentioned earlier. Family and counselors told me I didn’t need to have my mind set on anything regarding post-high school plans until the summer/the beginning of senior year. That, I have learned, is so incorrect.

What they should tell you is you need to have an idea of what fits you best, where you are interested in going and what job you want, by junior year. Otherwise, you’re left scrambling, like me, to connect the dots of your future. Wasting unnecessary amounts of effort worrying about what I want for my future and if I will truly enjoy it. Time is terrifying, to say the least. With every day that passes, I am one step closer to the day I will need to make the decision for my future.

The troubles brought with being so indecisive in post-high school plans have come at ease in some ways, although it is most definitely still a work in progress. For the time being, I have kept a firm grasp on the stuck-out branch in the midst of raging waves trying to sweep me away. I have read so many novels with views like that. Life is a river; some days it’s calm, some are continuous waves, one crashing in after the other. Sometimes there will be conveniently placed branches, a temporary resting point, before facing issues once again. In this ongoing process, I have learned that understanding what impact you want to leave on the world will help you gravitate towards the path of making your dreams (career-based or life-based) come true. It’s kind of a trial and error process to see what will help you stay the least stressed and the most efficient in planning out a possible idea for your future. This could mean conversations with parents, school counselors, siblings, or just taking the time to look through things by yourself.

The most useful thing I found has been doing my own research, hours of digging through information. While searching through data on different universities, majors, future jobs, and more, make sure to keep a loose focus on a few various characteristics like locations and costs, so you’re not aimlessly searching. Take your time, do some self-reflecting to get an idea of what you really want your life to look like, and do not rush.