It is a telling commentary on our pop-culture lifestyle that I graduated high school and set out on a mission to “find myself.” My only problem was … where did I lose myself?
I stepped out of the doors of an oversized gymnasium with my diploma in hand, and two things came to mind. First, I paid for a hat that I was supposed to lose, and now what? And then, I have a feeling I’m not alone.
So I did what any other red-blooded, American 18-year-old does—I went to Europe. I’m not sure how the idea got embedded in my naïve brain, but I was certain I would find myself there.
I gamely stepped into the antiquity of the old world. I gazed at the works of Michelangelo. I was brought to my knees by Donatello’s handiwork. I wandered the countryside of Tuscany, where all the varieties of green cannot be found in the largest of crayon boxes. I jumped in glee with my fellow Englishmen as we thwarted the Germans in the World Cup. (Yes, I was being a poser.)
And when it was all said and done, I came back to the U.S. with a few unidentifiable pictures, a rosary supposedly blessed by the Pope and no progress in finding myself.
A year went by, and I was still wondering where I misplaced myself. I had to take the next step; I had to find my American roots. I grabbed a ’96 Ford Taurus, my check-card and a best friend and drove the East Coast. As we set off on our adventure, I assured myself that this is where I was going to find “me.”
We drove and drove. We found beaches, beer and makeshift restrooms that were made from Mountain Dew bottles. I have never been to so many malls in my life. We made it all the way up to Canada, and as a last hoorah—because I could—I gambled the rest of my funds.
With no money in hand, we made a 23-hour trip back home. As I took one of my shifts behind the wheel, I decided that I had definitely found myself. But a month later, I got lost again.
So I took a totally different approach. I stayed home and played as hard as I could. I would wake up at noon and go outside where my buddy would be waiting for me. After an overpriced lunch and meaningless yet earth-shattering conversation, we would head to the lake where we would spend hours swimming, wakeboarding and soaking up the sun. We spent the next few months repeating this pattern over and over again. Occasionally, I would find time for work, fireworks, road trips to “life-changing” concert destinations and late night Boones Farm-soaked “spiritual” conversations. By the end of the summer, I looked back, and I still could not find what I was looking for.
I sit here now, looking back at that time in my life. I can’t help but chuckle. It seemed like I was going through such a “quarter-life crisis.” Where was I going to find my identity? I don’t have an exact answer.
I do have this idea though. I am thinking I never lost myself— I was just lost. And I think it’s OK to feel this way. When you are lost, you are forced to step forward brazenly and boldly, and just move forward. There is no way I would have pegged out the direction of my life and where it lays now.
I’m not going to get into theology or predestination, but I do know my Savior is in control. The idea in 2 Timothy of “fighting the good fight” and “finishing the race” requires me to keep living. No matter if the fight has been already won, I’m still required, as the fighter, to fight. You and I will never, “find yourself.” However, if we just keep living, we are doing what we’re called to do. Live this one life you’ve got.