Cartographer

The 20s are all about embracing uncertainty. Society grooms us to always be planning our next steps. We're supposed to be preparing for the future, prepping our next move and crouching to be ready to pounce. If you don't know what you're going to be doing five or ten years life, your life is apparently a mess. I'm here to tell you that I don't know what I want to do tomorrow much less next week or next year even. That's too damn real. It's okay to not know. Stop and read that again - I'll wait. It's time to change mapmakers. It's time to chart your own path, in your own time. It's time to become your own cartographer.
 
The first time I ever heard the word cartographer was in the context of this infamous level of the smash hit first-person shooter Halo: Combat Evolved that came out in 2001 (right in the childhood). I never really processed fully what it meant to be a map-maker. Maps have always just seemed to be there. Remember the days when you had to print out your directions on MapQuest whenever you'd go somewhere new and your parents would make you sit up front with them and guide them? Then came those Garmin GPS navigators that people clipped into their cars which coined the most dreaded phrase ever "recalculating" aka your ass was straight lost. Nowadays most cars have built in navigation systems and you sure as hell know your smartphone knows exactly where you are at all times. When I first moved to Ohio in third grade people had a tough time finding our house, even when Google maps blew up. We hadn't been mapped out and weren't listed (probably because we were literally the second house in our neighborhood to be built). Looking back now, what an interesting thing it was to be "off the map."

Now to me it means that while some people are okay with following maps designed for them, taking into account the perspectives and intentions behind them (case in point the distortion of the United States to look bigger than the entire continent of Africa when the continental contingency is no larger than the Sahara Desert), some people change the entire process and either make their own maps, or don't even use/need one at all. Maybe we've become too reliant on others to tell us where to go, what we should be doing, and how to do it. Did we forget we have our own inner compasses that almost always point us in the direction we need to go ... our hearts? It's okay to be lost. Scratch that, I encourage it. Get lost. Get lost in your life. Get lost in love. Get lost in passion. Take note of what are the things that take your full attention. Take time to reflect on when you're most present and actively engaged. Realize what exhilarates you. What keeps your attention captive like a classic Hook-style pirate on the sea? When do you get so enthralled in something that you forget to eat, ignore those damn red notifications, and forsake your schedule? That's what your heart beats for. That's what gets your going. That's what you're sailing towards. That's the treasure. That's the prize. Listen to your heart, and I promise it will tell you where you should go, if only you'll be wise enough to take heed. Your heart is your cartographer, take notice.

This week has been absolutely chaotic with trying to balance all the different aspects of my life. it's one thing to have to get my regular work done for my classes but another when exams, midterm portfolios, and my seemingly gargantuan 20-page senior research paper is looming over me. I am struggling to find time to finish all my homework, and catch up on some missed work but to keep up with all my extracurriculars (even though I've downsized - miss that show though WEtv #FTW) and even more so all the people I've chosen to have in my life. On top of all that is the big question of "what will I be doing next year?" Will I be doing a fellowship in DC or starting graduate school for journalism? Will somehow I still go to medical school and become a doctor? So many questions that I don't have the answer to yet. Applications, recommendation letters, and deadline abound - it's a lot to handle. I guess I'm back to feeling lost and shipwrecked once more. Senior year is so different than I had imagined it to be. I feel like I've followed my heart in mapping out who I want to be for this last year, but that's all within the context of my college experience. Who am I going to be in the real world (hey MTV cast me for season 31 - that'd be good reality TV)? I'm finding it difficult to make time to just sit, be, and listen. I understand my heart is my cartographer but father time is tapping his foot too.

What I can say for sure is that the little things that make my days manageable have become even more important. I put up this chalkboard vinyl wall decal in my room that I erase every couple of days and draw on. The process of just coming up with things to put on it, the physicality of using chalk, and even the sound it makes knocks me out of my head and back into my heart (ignore my inner religion major talking - sacred space is everything). Listening to music puts me in a special place, and as always writing takes me all the way there. Typing has it's perks but using a pen or pencil and being painstakingly intentional in my lettering makes it so much more visceral. I know I just need to put utensil to paper and write my heart out unfiltered, unbridled, and unmediated. I need silence and I need time. I know my heart is ready to guide me where I should go but it's waiting for the rest of me to give it that much deserved time to draw it all out. Cartographer, go to work.

My blog post question for the day is ... when was the last time you sat in complete silence? I don't even remember. I do walk and ride the bus around campus without my headphones or looking at my phone to force myself to just listen, breath, and taste my surroundings. It's refreshing.

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