GET LOST And Let Your Dreams Grow
By Abigail Johnson
When I was a kid, maybe eight or nine, I wrote my mum a book. I taped some paper together, filled them with a story and on the final page I wrote an ‘About the Author’ section: “Abigail is a student, she loves to dance and sing … she wants to be a film star, model, singer, dancer and writer. Will she cope?”
When I started uni a decade later, I’d narrowed it down. I’d be a writer. I would graduate by age 20, pump out my first novel by 22 (or 23 at the latest,) after which I’d pick up a series deal.
Suffice to say, none of that happened. Something better did – I learned to let the fuck go.
If there’s one thing uni will teach you, it’s how to be looser with your plans. How to be flexible and how to embrace lostness. A group project will certainly teach you to loosen the fuck up. If you don’t, you’ll crack.
The thing about loosening your plans is that it doesn’t mean giving up on your goals. It actually means you’re expanding them. Get lost in the slog of university. Take random, interesting electives. But do the work. Volunteer for scary clubs. Go to raves. Become a TikTok legend. But do the work.
This type of lostness is synonymous with wonderment: Wanderlust. The other type of lostness is synonymous with ‘laziness’: Depression. And that happens too. Trust me, I’m acquainted.
The first type of lostness, the happy type, prepares you for the other. When you find yourself at the cold, concrete floor of a depressive spiral, give yourself space. Give yourself rest and give yourself looseness. Embrace the lost as a way back to your found. You might find that your found looks different. And you might find that that’s fantastic.
When I was doing my bachelor’s, I changed my minor three times. During those lost times, I didn’t feel like a wonderer nor did I feel like a wanderluster, I felt like a loser. I felt like I’d lost everything. And the only thing that helped was reaching.
Reaching out to speak to my lecturer. Reaching out to speak to my paper administrator-person-thing. Reaching into the fridge for a third Red Bull. I always found that when I pulled through those lost times that my goals looked bigger, not smaller. I discovered that, after coming out the other side of those university struggles, I’d found out that little bit more about myself.
It’s more than okay to not know what you want to do with your life, especially if you’ve just started uni. In fact, I encourage it. Your life is a hell of a lot more than a checklist and it’s doubtful you’ll regret not being married by 22 when you’re on your deathbed. You’re far more likely to regret the risks you didn’t take. The bicuriosity you didn’t explore. Or whatever.
So let go of the rigidity. Loosen your grip on the timeframes. Knuckle down and do the work, but do it with a keen sense of wonder, a loose sense of the end-goals and with a flexible approach. And when you fuck up, which you will, let it fucking go! Your life is your life and as far as we know, you only get to do it once. Ironically, the tighter a grip you keep, the more you lose out.