My boyfriend broke up with me. When I asked why, he said that he had “followed me off his path.”
He was mistaken.
And if you feel like you’ve wandered off your path, you are mistaken too.
This is because—despite what society leads us to believe—there is actually no path to follow. In fact, it’s the opposite: the path follows us, and for this reason, we cannot stray from it.
Most of the time, our path is a simple continuation of the way we think we’ve been going. But, at times, it isn’t. Sometimes we will find an insurmountable obstacle blocking its way—a metaphorical rock wall with no footholds, a cascading waterfall, or a dead end—which forces us to choose whether to turn around or face a challenge.
When this happens, know that either option will be fine. Regardless of our decisions, the path goes on.
Sometimes, our path makes circles, and this is nothing to fret about either. Even if we end up where we started, we have moved forward. Any direction we walk will be full of experiences we’re “supposed to” have and people we are “supposed to” connect with. This is how the world works.
Everything will always work out—it can’t not—and opportunities will constantly present themselves. There’s no such thing as a life without activity. We can attempt to do absolutely nothing every single day, and this nothing will become something, and whatever something we are doing or not doing will help us to grow.
Furthermore, another person can’t change our path or lead us astray. If two people are together, their paths are together. If they are apart, their paths are too. The decision is ours to make, and regardless of what we choose, your path is with you as mine is with me.
At times, it may not seem like it, but these paths are always right and never wrong. We will ceaselessly direct our lives toward the things and the people and the values that we care about, and we will never stop following our dreams, passions, or intuition—even if we’re not aware that we are doing so.
During those times that we feel like we are drowning in a sea of possibilities, we must remember that our decisions can’t cause us to lose or change paths. We can remind ourselves that life has no trail maps—no solid lines for paved roads, no dotted lines for footpaths. There is no compass, no scale of distance, no indicator of elevation, no weather forecast, and no GPS to provide us with an estimated time of arrival for our destination. There can’t be, since we don’t know where we’re going.
Once we realize that we can’t decipher the shape of the path ahead of us, our perspective changes. We can see that each decision we make now is nothing more than something that we’ll eventually look back upon in the future as a part of who we are. We can trust in the endless opportunities to learn about ourselves and our environments, to grow and evolve, and to enjoy life’s challenges without trying to figure out the ifs and whys.
And yes, this may seem overwhelming—but rest assured, when you do look back at your path, you won’t think, “Why did I walk that way?”
You’ll think, “I can’t believe what a journey it’s been!”
You’ll think, “I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Author: Rachel Markowitz
Image: Andrej Lisakov/Unsplash
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina