I got lost today, only briefly, but being geographically lost felt like nothing in comparison to how far I had strayed inside from my comfort zone. Before I left Austin, when I went skydiving, the cameraman gave me some simple advice. “Just live each moment by itself,” he said, trying to assuage my jittery left knee. It’s not always practical advice for a highly introspective thinker. And deep introspection had always been my flaw. I thought if I looked deep enough inside myself, I’d have all the answers. I couldn’t let go of the fact that sometimes the answers are outside your reach and that I won’t have all the answers always, as much as I’d love to be omniscient.

Traveling has forced me to come to terms with that. I am used to being respected for my intelligence above anything else. But when I am abroad, I am absorbing more than outputting and I long to feel like I am making a contribution, like I matter. I know that every bit of data formed, every observation I make, every challenge I face… is making me into the person I want to be, that I need to be. But sometimes in the moment, I get impatient. I don’t know everything now. But I’m trying anyway, because I want to make an impact. Because I want to give.

But breezing down a bumpy dirt trail, lost in a forest, branches snapping against my arms, rays of sunlight poking through treetop canopies shining on my hair, feeling alive… I remembered something my oldest friend said to me last October. “Don’t rush to the end of the story, it’s blank paper.”

I have a task in my todo list app which I added as a joke. “Don’t give up.”

I can’t. I won’t. I never will.