We often rely so heavily on routes specified by others, that we lose sight of where we really are

SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO  - Samantha MonelloPrior to obtaining my driver's license, I relied on my parents for transportation, often accompanied by the familiar automated voice of my mother's phone navigation.

"Nancy the Navi" — as my sisters and I came to call it — was instrumental in directing us from point A to point B. That is, unless her "GPS signal was lost." I can remember one day on the way to a soccer game when we were pressed for time, and were erroneously directed to a dead end street. My mother quickly called my father, unsure of where she should go. When he asked where exactly we were, my mother had no answer. In a moment of profound discomfort, I realized that in the absence of the voice telling us exactly where to go, we were lost. My immediate stress may have been primarily concern over the consequences of being late, but later, the moment took on a much more significant meaning. We often rely so heavily on routes specified by others, that we lose sight of where we really are and without this broader understanding, course correction is difficult, if not impossible.

Whether it is a set of required classes or a strict athletic regimen, life is a series of often prescribed individual routes. We are told what we need to do to get from point A to point B by coaches, teachers, parents and other figures of authority. We are urged and influenced down particular paths by peer pressure, social media and other similar forces. But if we delegate our life's journey to all of these external navigational apps and suggestions, we run the risk of ending up on that same dead end street without the means of finding our way out.

Not only should we be constantly questioning the route we are told to travel, but also how and why that particular route fits within the map of our lives. Navigating our lives cannot be dictated by a "Nancy" or by any other voice of authority.

While guidance from others is helpful and oftentimes desirable, we cannot find ourselves relying on these inputs as our only source of direction. We simply cannot surrender navigational control. Moreover, life is no more a compilation of forecasted routes than a city is the collection of all the routes specified by navigational apps between its various points. To properly chart the map of our lives we must maintain a perspective that is much broader than the individual routes we are traveling. The influences on where to go and how to get there are many and varied, obvious and subtle. I often find myself, in the wake of a particular decision, wondering whether I truly made that choice or whether I simply succumbed to the instructions of an unseen "Nancy" whispering in my ear.

Samantha Monello is a senior at Wilsonville High School.

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