How To Be Your Own Anchor & Compass
The last few weeks have been rough, riddled with the proverbial unexpected cracks I’ve stumbled over. I’ve had the distinct pleasure of experiencing the metaphorical inconvenience of getting a pebble stuck in my shoe. Yet I somehow managed to bounce back quickly and readjust my footing. The mythical work-life balance is still challenging, but I always find a way to regain my footing.
Can you really be “heartbroken” if it was a “relationship-yet-not-relationship”? If you and the other person were “on-off-on-off”? You are not a light switch; you are an entire universe with constellations and horizons constantly expanding. Don’t let them treat you like a piece of furniture tangled up beneath a winding string light with a malfunctioning flicker. Quit trippin’ over that wire.
Fast forward to today, to here, now.
I am thankful. I’ve come a long way from the person I used to be five years ago when I once hit rock bottom. I didn’t like who I was, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I was in pain, and I felt conflicted. I had invested too much in another person who didn’t give a damn about anything, rather than investing in myself. There is a reason why Warsan Shire wrote, “you can’t make homes out of human beings/someone should have already told you that”.
You can’t just bury your hopes in a stranger. You can’t build your dreams off of an idealized version of someone else. Because there is always the possibility that they might want to leave. Not because there’s something wrong with you necessarily (everyone has character flaws that they need to work on), but mostly because they are searching for something intangible that even they cannot define. Like lost vessels set adrift, searching for broken compasses. They are just blindly grabbing at driftwood instead of looking up, instead of realizing that they are their own North Star.
I had invested myself in the wrong compass, cast my anchor on the wrong shore. I didn’t realize that this wasn’t where my journey was headed. I didn’t realize that I had to be my own compass, that I needed to be my own anchor. That the decision to choose the next path was mine. That the choice will always be mine. I’m no longer religious (haven’t been for the last few years for political reasons), but there is a quote from biblical scriptures that from a literary and philosophical standpoint still carries meaning: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and steadfast” (Hebrews 6:19).
So instead of searching for a new ship or shore, I anchored myself in writing and let that compass lead me elsewhere. We have to each be our own anchors. You can’t always expect other people to save you. Sink or swim. Anchor your soul in something that brings you joy, something that gives you hope, something that allows you to express yourself fully and provides you with room for growth.
I built something out of what I love, and I met so many amazing people—friends, colleagues, professors, and mentors who are just as passionate and creative and crazy as I am—and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I re-learned that no matter how crazy or infuriating they may be, my family will always be there for me. Like the masts and the sails of my ship, they have witnessed firsthand every storm I have weathered in my life.
We take friends and family for granted most of the time, thinking that they will always be a given. But it’s because they have given so much that we should also feel grateful, that we should also feel inspired to give back, too. Every relationship isn’t perfect—I still have stupid arguments with my sisters and my father, and most of the time with my mother—but even in those difficult moments, I know I’m being tested. Each challenging confrontation is another chance to choose compassion, no matter how difficult it feels within that moment. You have to consciously choose to be a better person.
If love is unconditional, then love should mean forgiveness. If hope is an anchor, then forgiveness is what keeps us afloat. Forgiveness is what keeps us from sinking into darkness; it holds us accountable to become stronger, more understanding people.
Every relationship isn’t perfect because we are imperfect people. I myself have a lot of growing to do, and I’m thankful that I have people in my life with whom I can share that journey. Where there is compassion, there is joy, and wherever there’s joy, there will always be hope that anchors each of us together.