Jan 2014
Josie Bungert

If Only I Had Just One Direction, I’d Be Happier Than the Band

I don’t tell many people this, but if I am going to blog about it I might as well put it all out there: I don’t know cardinal directions. Yes, I know what they are, but I couldn’t tell you, in any city, which way is North, South, East or West. It’s something that my dad and three brothers (all Boy Scouts) would be incredibly ashamed of, moreso than my inability to correctly tie knots (another point of frustration in my life: incorrectly tying my shoes).

When I first started dating my boyfriend, we lived 40 minutes away from one another, he didn’t have a license, and I hadn’t driven on the freeway upon receiving my license less than a year before. It took me MONTHS to figure out how to get there, and even longer to know my way around his city. After he got his license, he drove to my house once and had memorized not only that route, but also, after exploring town for half a day, how to navigate my city. Though okay it may seem not that big a deal, he knows directions and I don’t, but it is something that actually runs deeper than that and embarrasses me frequently.

Besides all of that, having to look someone in the face while they give me directions by saying “Go North on 8th street, continue a mile, then head East,” and pretend I know exactly what they are talking about is one of my most challenging tasks. I grew up living up the street from North Park, so of course I assumed the park was North of my house. Makes sense…right?

You may wonder how I have gotten this far. Well, now, living in a city I didn’t grow up in, I have a smart phone to constantly save the day. But growing up, I had no need to know. I knew the city I lived in and surrounding cities like the back of my hand. And when I got my license, MapQuest existed, so I printed out sheets of paper and brought them everywhere I went. The real matter is, I don’t think my lack of knowledge of these four directions is a hindrance. In fact, I think the way that I have gotten around the need of knowing them equates equally to how I live my life.

I’m a planner. I plan everything; I have since I can remember. When I was 10, I asked for an American Girl Personal Digital Organizer for Christmas, and, upon opening it, proceeded to jump on the couch, inevitably slamming my knee into the base of it. I didn’t care though, because it was the best gift I had gotten to that point. But as much as I use planners and organizers, things don’t always end up going according to plan. Hence, as much as I don’t like it, I find myself literally and also lifestyle-ly directionless.

The reason I equate my seeming feeling of lost to not knowing where I am on a map 80% of the time is because of the way I hide it. Just like when I look at the person telling me which direction to drive and nod as if I know exactly what they mean, when people ask me about my plans, I usually tend to put on a happy face and pretend like I know. You may call it lying, you may call it being facetious, but in reality, it’s just how I trained myself to react to situations I am unsure about. I’ve always found it easier to pretend I know (fake it til you make it, kind of thing) than to actually figure out the answer.

Well my friends, this is one of my major resolutions of 2014, hence why I am writing about it now: to be completely honest about things I don’t understand and not care who laughs. It’s this resolution that has me answering with “I honestly don’t know” to the question “What are you doing after graduation?” which I have been asked countless times in this new year. 2013 me would definitely say something like “Oh, I have some ideas that I’m looking into and am super excited about!” Don’t get me wrong, my close friends and family usually know how I am actually feeling about things like post-grad non-plans, but it’s the strangers and colleagues I always feel inclined to fib to. This is the year I try to suppress that – and in doing so, actually find my “direction” in life.


(Sidebar: since I said the word “direction” so much in this post, I might as well share with you all one of my fav songs from one of my fav bands as of recently. Buzzword, anyone? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzgTAyHc6PY)