Have you ever had to ask for directions in a foreign language? You end up using enough incorrect phrases and wild gestures to appear completely inept and ridiculous. Even the most sane individual becomes a lunatic in these scenarios. It’s kind of hilarious when it’s not you.
I’ve faced this more often than the average wanderluster because I have NO sense of direction. None. And early on I was so afraid of being vulnerable or looking dumb that I refused to ask for help. I wasted hours literally wandering in circles.
It’s a scary feeling to be completely out of your element and unable to find your way (scarier if you’re hungry and/or need to pee). But these humbling experiences helped me realize two important things: 1) I don’t know everything, and 2) It’s ok to trust others and accept help.
Those six people who all pointed up the same hill when you busted out a map? Go that way–they’re not screwing with you. This territory is more familiar to them and you’re not gaining anything trying to blaze your own trail.
I learned this lesson all over again when I became a mom. Everyone has advice for new moms (seriously, even our mailman), and early on I teetered precariously between being too self conscious to ask for help and overly skeptical of advice I did request.
I was so frustrated. I felt like I was being scrutinized every time someone offered me more advice. Until it finally dawned on me that it wasn’t about ME; everyone was just trying to help…to point me in the right direction…not tell me that I was doing anything wrong. Many people around me had been down this road before and were simply offering me directions.
I gradually stopped resisting well-intended suggestions in a neurotic attempt to create my own, “better” path. I fell into one that was a comfortable combination of seasoned advice and my own instincts, with plenty of hilarious mistakes along the way, and that’s been the real path of least resistance.