Sometimes you’ve got to take the scenic route
I’m in Russia at the moment, St Petersburg to be specific and it’s truly beautiful. Today we went to see one of the palaces off on a little island. Actually it’s a massive island and very easy to get lost since it is hard to differentiate between trees.
Towards the end of the day, we were trying to find our way back to the pier, when I insisted I knew the way back (of course, I did!). I knew the general direction, more to the left and more towards the sea but wasn’t 100% sure on the path.
As we were walking, it hit me how similar this was to my life. I knew the general direction, but didn’t know exactly how I was going to get there, nor did I care. I didn’t care how long it took, as long as I got there in the end… (And before the ferry left!).
My mum is a very different person. She made a decision at 17 years old and has never wavered from it. She likes to get from A to B, in the fastest way possible. So did I, a few years ago. Until I figured out life didn’t work that way for most people and a couple of detours, landed me lost.
I had to find my path back, and to do that I had to settle with not always knowing all the information, or precisely where the destination was. All I had was a general direction and the hope that it would work out.
So here we were, walking in the right general direction, my mum blindly trusting that I knew as much as I was letting on. 15 minutes later, I start doubting my instinct and it suddenly dawned on my mum, I might not have been as certain as I was conveying, and that we had been taking the scenic route. At this precise point, out of nowhere, a clash of thunder and the heavens opened, chucking it down. It turns out those extra 15 minutes were the deciding factor between us getting soaked or not. We ended up in a coffee shop waiting for the rain to pass, looking out of the window seeing all the people who, unlike us, had made it to the ferry on time and that’s when I realised how very similar my last two years have been.
The moment I doubted myself and lost faith in ‘the general direction’ approach, was when the world chucked everything at me. Almost as if it was punishing my lack of certainty. Testing to see how much I would bet on my belief in myself. At times, these tests got to much, and I took (more than a few!) unexpected coffee breaks from life. I regrouped and then continued on my way.
Once you are at the destination, it’s easy to look back and smile at your adventure but when you are in the middle of a rain storm, it’s hard to think straight or maintain your confidence. When you are sitting in the coffee shop, and all the other people in the world seem to be at their destination, it’s bloody hard.
But as long as you get there in the end, does any of it really matter? We got there in the end, and that’s all that matters. It didn’t affect our day because we were laughing the whole way and enjoyed our coffee break. The problem isn’t the detour, it’s how you view the detour.
Take as many coffee breaks as you need, in your career, in your relationships, in your life. You will get there in the end.