How to Find Your True North? Throw Away Your Compass

What one man learned by letting it go and letting Wanderlust happen.

Interested in throwing away your compass? Join us at a Wanderlust Festival this year!

On the final day of Wanderlust I was asked how I found my „true north.” I’d gotten used to seeing the words “Find Your True North” throughout the festival. They were draped across the musical stage in block letters and hashtagged beneath all things #Wanderlust. Yet, by the time this question reached me, the phrase had become much more meaningful than a company tagline.

As I saw it, the idea of finding your true north—at least at an event—has to do with what you hoped to gain from the experience of being there. One of the many elements that make a Wanderlust Festival unique is that everyone arrives with this hope alive and well, in search of some form of growth. I could see it in their eyes, the overwhelming sense purpose and presence. I was initially intimidated by the certainty of purpose with which others answered this question.  Everyone seemed so clear on what they wanted; so clear on what they needed. They moved with an angelic grace hellbent on self-actualization and it stirred me with inspiration and envy.

My feelings would change by the end of the festival as I discovered, standing proud at my own Ursa Minor, that my answer to finding true north is simple: Throw away your compass.

Starting as an Observer

The start of my Wanderlust journey was that of an observer. I came to accompany my fiancé. I was her plus one; a proverbial fly on the yoga mat. I mistakenly felt that this put me at a disadvantage, that perhaps my wristband should have been a different color.

“So what brings you here?” I hoped nobody would ask me.

But by the end of the first day, any vague sense of skepticism I had smuggled onto the grounds melted away and I began to drop my guard. What I didn’t know at that point was that soon I would be hurled from my cliff of mental comfort and into the thicket of a personal abyss I hadn’t planned on visiting.

Now, I should point out here, that this wasn’t my first dip into the pool of physical or spiritual fine-tuning. I can usually play along and enjoy the view from my comfortable cliffside—I’ve always been skilled at latching onto what’s convenient to hear and keeping what isn’t at an arm’s length. I don’t know what’s down there inside of me, but I have a solid hunch that it’s coiled and ready to bite. Past stints into the realm of personal development had made me proficient at avoiding the things I needed to face the most.

As in: New meditation tactics? Yes, please! More self-love? I’ll take a side of that, sure. Oh… You want me to untangle the webs of what I didn’t enough of in my childhood?  I’m good, thanks.

Until Wanderlust.

Unraveling the Coiled Biter

Despite the mental jiu-jitsu I’d cultivated to protect that which is broken, the groundswell of Wanderlust energy washed over and removed me from what they like to call “the comfort zone.” The speakers, so spot on, cut through my walls. The yoga classes twisted my body like a sponge, exfoliating tarnished insides. By the time I laid down for breathwork, my heart and soul couldn’t fight against what would become over-oxygenated exorcism of self.

It was all of this—the people, the talks, the waves of positivity—that broke me down and opened me up in the ways I’d needed for so long. And the beauty was that these same elements which knocked my lights out also shined upon a new path. The festival pushed me over the edge and gave me a parachute to safely land. It gave me the tools I needed to face the aftermath of self-discovery and the courage to do so.

I can’t claim that a personal transformation happened with totality. It didn’t disappear and re-emerge through a thick mist of change. And that’s because one’s true north is not a finish line, it’s a path. What Wanderlust gave me was a new compass. A compass not rusted with old patterns and calibrated for dead-end shores.

Uncertainty May Be the Answer All Along

It was when I walked back to my campsite for one last night under the stars, emotionally torn and resewn, that I realized it was through my lack of definition for being here, my uncertainty of purpose, that I was left open to find exactly what I needed.

My advice to those who truly seek self-discovery should refrain from setting their course towards what they think they need. For if they knew what it was they lacked they wouldn’t need to leave home to find it. Rather, throw away your compass and arrive at your own personal true north stripped down and surprised. You may be surprised that it was in you all along.

All you need to find your true north is the courage to face what lies within.

Corey McComb grew up playing guitar in rock bands and touring the country with my best friends, leading him to music journalism. He considers himself lucky to have the opportunity to cover music festivals and some of his favorite artists, as well as large-scale alternative news publications. He’s worked in advertising, in parking garages, as a sales trainer, and in international resorts. He learns from his mistakes, and currently writes about the sweet spots in life where travel, love, and personal development intersect. Check out his website for more information.