Lost in direction

As long as I can remember I have been bad with both following and giving directions. I forget the way to a place even if I have been there many times. I have never really been able to follow google maps to the point.

In the past six months I had been to Nagdaha, a sub-urban lake in Lalitpur four times. One day I had to be a guide to get there. On a bike the route should take less than an hour from my home. But more than two thirds on the way, I managed to get us lost for an hour. Eventually, had to take directions from other people because I couldn’t even convey google map directions. On a separate occasion, I was given a location to an office which should have taken me 5 minutes from the bus stop but it took me about 45 minutes to reach there as I kept circling the location.  

Studies have associated spatial cognition like these with the hippocampus and the nearby entorhinal cortex but I am not going to measure my brain size for this. With regards to me the reason might not also be hereditary thing because my parents especially my dad is really good at it.

It had taken a toll with me once. I would coax myself for being so stupid and then in embarrassment, I tended to be worse with directions.  

But now I tend to see getting lost as an adventure. Sure, it’s not easy at that point but as I reflect back on the experience, there is always some element of adventure. Like on the way to Nagdaha we took a crazy off-road track taking through semi-rural Lalitpur. Or once in Panauti it took me to pretty fields when I missed the mark to the municipality office. It really seemed like I had been to a rural village.

I do not know for sure why am I so bad at directions but one thing I know for sure is I am done feeling bad about it. It is just something I will have to accept and I hope people will forgive. Why I cannot guarantee for sure I can overcome nervousness on site, I know that I will find humor in my flaws.

And this loss of sense of direction has translated into my career choice as well. Well back when COVID hit, I had no work. I got two freelance gigs which prevented me from asking my parents from pocket money but it was a scary time. I got into survive mode and it seems to survive to this day. I started doing anything that came my way – writing blogs; conducting literature on a range of issues – agricultural transformation, waste management, disaster risk management, using AI in disaster risk reduction; calculating phenological metrics just name it. I just did everything that came my way. And as I near my Master’s graduation, I am directionless in this aspect as well. I do not know what I really want to do but I do have options to work in a range of things. I cannot seem to choose and this has caused a lot of anxieties. Do I start another Masters in a completely different field like environmental modeling, currently I am completing my Masters in Environmental Science? or do I take the best good job I get.

Recently, my good friend also suggested that I quit research completely like a swift bandage because while my heart is set in research, I wouldn’t get me as far as I should be. I hold no anger towards his statement but I don’t think I can ever give up the thrill I get going to field work, I feel the most alive while I get to do research – finding something about an issue, finding ways to solve a problem gives me an adrenaline rush. And the other plus side of research I also get to meet people from all walks of life, interact with them, hear about their stories, observe the condition of people in different parts. This is just too good to give up and while I do not know what career direction, I will take next, one thing I do know is I am not leaving research permanently ever.

Anu Rai

I am an aspiring environmental researcher.

Leave a Reply