When I was a kid I got lost twice. The first time I was about nine years old and I was camping in the woods with a group of girls. The troop had awakened early in the morning and we were told we would be going for a short hike. The plan was to walk through the woods and identify some of the different plants. Just a thirty to forty-five minutes’ hike before breakfast. So, we packed our things and went our way. After about thirty minutes the group had split into two groups and after an hour it was becoming obvious to us all that we were lost. Our group had slowly separated from the first group and we had no idea how to get back. It took us over three hours to find our way back to the camping site.
The second time I was about fourteen and I got left behind at a museum, which was about three hours away from home, during a school trip. I remember feeling bored when I stumbled across this piece of “art”. It was a huge piece of paper that contained prose written by some author I honestly do not remember. For some reason this thing captivated my attention so intensely, I didn’t hear everyone leaving. Something about the idea of writing exactly as it comes to mind really attracted me, so I kept reading it until the end. I was not alone though; after going downstairs looking for the group I found that two other girls had also missed the bus and we were all left behind at the museum. So, it wasn’t scary at all. If anything it was the most exciting part of the trip. They came back for us, eventually.
Getting lost these two times was great. The first time I learned to pay closer attention to the trainings I was been given during camps. This wasn’t my first camping trip and in fact it was the only one I ever attended alone, without my mom. It would have been very useful to remember at least some of the training so I could help in getting back to camp sooner. I also observed one of the leaders help one of the girls when she fainted during the hike, and to stay calm in a situation like that. Oh, and I also learned that I can’t think while hungry. Eat before leaving in the morning, always hehe. It became a funny story that weekend, we all laughed and talked about it for a few weeks. I guess no amount of lessons can make up for actual experience. After that I took very serious every single training we got.
The second time I learned to relax and enjoy the moment. Yes, it was true that I was three hours away from home with no cell phone, no ride, and maybe three bucks in my pocket, but the situation was actually an opportunity. I kept thinking “oh no, the teacher is going to freak”, “ I was not supposed to be there for that long”, “will I get into trouble?”. But these other girls, they were happy instead, they insisted that the teachers would realize at some point and come back for us. They told me to walk around with them, after all, we were alone in the city on a sunny day. They looked relax and happy. I realized now, the best parts of that trip were the interesting piece of art I had seen there and the fact that I got to walk the city for a little while. None of these things would have happened if it wasn’t because I was left behind. I had stopped and paid attention to the one thing that actually interested me in the whole place, and I had learned something.
Both these times I was brave. I kept calm and actually had fun. Is weird but I felt stronger these times than most of the time at home or school. There is something about being on your own that that I liked. There is no one to tell me not to do something, to keep me from trying something, to make me feel fragile. I liked it. That is why I applied for an engineering camp in high school, two weeks in college, I wasn’t going to pass on that (even though I really wanted to study forensics). That is also why I only applied to internships outside of the country. More opportunities, yes, but also more personal opportunities, to grow, to experience. Something that cannot be done while on a beautiful pink cage. After all, a cage is a cage, even one filled with love and hope.