Get Lost and Find Your Way Home - An inner GPS
Golden hour is drenching the city in rosy-tangerine light and quiet falls across the park as a couple strolls past me, hand-in-hand. Her perfume smells of honeysuckle and, for a moment, I forget I’m in Manhattan.
The sudden burst of a car horn, followed by several more (standard for this city) is enough to jolt me out of my peaceful daze.
It’s been two years since I left sunny Southern California for the grit and chaos of New York. Never part of the plan, the decision was swift and slightly terrifying—which is why I loved it so much. I’ve always craved adventure and moving to a somewhat unfamiliar city wasn’t a new concept.
The first time I set out for a new city and was concerned with learning my way around, my Dad gave me one crumb of advice: “Get lost and find your way home”. This was before Google maps and GPS—before your phone could navigate every aspect of your journey, including traffic patterns and road work. You were lucky to print out directions from MapQuest and hold them in front of you while squinting to read street signs. Little did I know that would be the least of my challenges.
My desire for something shiny and new consistently outweighed any fear of obstacles or loneliness. The thrill of seeing or hearing something for the first time feels like turning the page of a bestseller. You never know what to expect and you’ll never experience anything quite like it again, but that doesn’t stop you from wanting to turn the next page, and the next, and the next.
Some people consider it irresponsible to constantly seek, but it’s never been about finding something better; it’s always been about creating something bigger.
Building a community in a different city used to be simpler. You’d connect with your fellow 20-something neighbors who were seeking security, or you’d grab drinks with other servers after work. As we age and establish our careers, we’re faced with people getting married and having children, and not necessarily wanting to hang out with colleagues in the office who are vying for the same promotion.
That’s when I realized Dad’s advice transcended Google maps.
It’s easy to feel adrift in a sea of people, so how do you get to the core of “you” when everything and everyone around you feels foreign? In this moment you find your way home—to your center, to your heart.
Regardless of my age or the city to which I was relocating, I promised myself to foster relationships based on what makes me happy: the people, places, and things that bring me joy. Reaching out to friends (or friends of friends, or friends’ second cousin’s co-workers)—this is how I connect. And if you can find something in common (wine, music, travel [did I mention wine?]), you will create a base of faces that will soon become familiar--people introducing you to new pursuits and interests and, in essence, expanding on what feels comfortable.
With time, navigating my career appeared just as straightforward. Networking became my source of inspiration and a foundation for growth. I encountered people who test my thoughts and encourage me to evolve, and they became my champions.
I’ve spent so much time relishing in being lost, that this journey is my home. This yearning to create something bigger than (and within) myself is where I’m content. The transforming landscapes and revolving guest appearances and innovative challenges—they are all what make me, me.
Change is the life that breathes a heartbeat into my soul. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
About the author
Heather Ooms is a Canadian who grew up in a seaside town just outside of Vancouver. Never quite content with staying in one place, after high school she embarked on a 20-year journey through six different states, spending most of her time in California before landing in New York City in 2017.
Heather’s professional career led her to Learning and Development, where she designs core content for elevated leadership programs and executive coaching. Her passion for writing lends beyond the standards required by most global companies, so she delves into her creative side through emotional exploration and self-reflection.
The nature and travel lover in Heather means she spends most of her free time outdoors, either snowboarding or hiking or getting lost in foreign cities, where she undoubtedly finds the most eclectic, hidden spot for a craft cocktail.