By Claudia Lee

The stereo is maxed out while we drive down our roads. The roads we grew up on, the roads we know the contours of and detours through. We know the slopes of these hills. We know the tall grass on the bend. This town hasn’t changed, but we certainly have.

What happens when we are so familiar with our hometown but no longer with ourselves?

We’re going into our last year of high school. We’re burnt out from the copious amounts of what seems like pointless work. We’ve woken up at 7 a.m. for 540 days. We’ve gone to our first party. We’ve played with the unknown because we’re young and inquisitive. We’ve come to the realization that the four walls that surround us in school suffocates the mind. It doesn’t teach. The only real teacher is living.

Being 17 means stressing about what we’re going to do with the rest of our lives. It means driving around aimlessly down these familiar streets in an attempt to find ourselves. We’ve hung up missing flyers on every street corner utility pole. Are we dug deep beneath the hot sand? Maybe we’re in the ocean at sunset. Are we in the gaps of tree leaves? Are we hidden in a stealthy corner of the basement with all the old remains of childhood us?

We don’t know. And we won’t ever know unless we look around places we haven’t seen before. We need a place that makes us vulnerable. We need a foreign place that holds secrets to share and lessons to teach us. Do we know how we react to getting lost? To have no help from others? What it’s like walking into a room full of people we don’t know? To watch a different kind of sunset—the kind far away from home that makes us feel so small?

When’s the last time we tried something for the first time?

We are pressured to go to college — to make something of ourselves. We are rushing around trying to figure out the rest of our lives — but don’t we have the rest of our lives to figure it out? Life is not structured with a set plan. Random things will happen, some good and some bad. We can’t predict the future, so the plans we have in mind are arbitrary to some degree. However, being guided by intuition to do what we truly want — that’s not an arbitrary plan. It’s not a plan at all, it’s something else. It’s the parallel universe that exists when we’re following the arbitrary plan. While we are wrapped up in the ideal — going to college, coming out and working right away, then getting married and having children — our parallel universe has us doing what we truly wanted. Cliff diving in Greece, taking pictures of thick jade colored forests with monkeys, seeing all the native and different people in countries we’ve only heard of on TV.

We don’t deserve anything. We make choices. There are consequences to every choice, so it’s a matter of where we want to look for ourselves—through an arbitrary plan or through that parallel universe guided by intuition. Neither choice is better than the other, but we will find that each choice’s outcome will mold us into different people.

Claudia is an aesthete and will be going to school for English-Lit in a city. 

Image: Jay Mantri

Love this? Want more? Like Soul Anatomy on Facebook.