When I was in high school, my team traveled to OU every year to compete in the state speech and debate tournament. My first time at state was really the first time I had to navigate without my parents, and I was absolutely hopeless at it. I couldn’t go anywhere alone, because I would inevitably turn the exact wrong way once I left the Union. I literally needed a map to get from the Union to Felgar and Devon, okay? I meant it when I said I was hopeless.
Flash forward three years. Once I actually started attending OU, I was surprised by how easy I thought it was to navigate. Wow! I thought. It’s so linear. Campus is on a perfectly aligned north-south axis! How did I not realize this when I was a silly high school student?! I genuinely thought I had finally overcome my directionally challenged nature. I got to know campus and Main Street like the back of my hand. I even managed to spend a day on vacation in downtown Chicago by myself, and I only got lost once. (Come to think of it, it was the Trump building that was my reference point. I’m just as disgusted as you are.)
Anyway, I was wrong.
I’m basically a walking comedy of errors, and honestly, that’s fine with me. I screw up. I make silly mistakes that I can use as fodder for my signature brand of self-deprecation. However, when it’s your second full day in a brand new country where you don’t feel confident in your linguistic abilities and you take the bus approximately twenty minutes in the wrong direction after spending forty minutes unable to find the bus stop that’s actually only three blocks from your campus, it’s a lot less funny and a lot more exhausting.
I did make it home. I didn’t get mugged, kidnapped, or even catcalled. (That I know of. Like I said, I’m not totally fluent.) I didn’t even cry! I’m going to mark the entire experience down as a moment (give or take three hours) of personal growth. And you know what? Today I made it to school and back without a single hiccup, except for the times I had to sprint across the street because a bus was approaching me at full speed. I also made at least two friends today, which I’m pretty dang excited about. I know I’ve only been here for two days, but I’m loving every bit of it so far. And really, on a serious note, I am pretty proud of myself. I might not have the best – or any – navigational instincts, but after years of coming to terms with my mental health, I think I’ve finally developed a level head.