“There is no exercise that is either feeble or more strenuous…than that of conversing with one’s own thoughts.” -Montaigne
It was the final day of the Wanderlust Festival in Oahu when I was asked the question, “How do you find your True North?”
I’d gotten used to seeing the call to action, Find Your True North throughout the festival. The words 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 more meaningful than a company tagline.
One of the many elements that make a Wanderlust Festival unique is that everyone arrives in search of some form of growth. I could see it in their eyes, the overwhelming sense purpose and presence.
Another question festival goers were eventually asked, by a speaker, an instructor, or new friend was, “What do you hope to gain from your experience here?”
There was a certainty in purpose I overheard others answer this question with that intimidated me. Everyone all seemed so clear on what they want. So clear on what they need. 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 the answer to, “How does one find their True North?” is simple: Throw away your compass.
The start of my Wanderlust journey was that of an observer. I came to accompany my fiancé. I was her plus one; a 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 smuggled onto the grounds had melted away and I began to drop my guard. What I didn’t know was that soon I would be hurled from my mental cliff of comfort and into the thicket of a personal abyss I hadn’t planned on visiting.
Now, I should point out, that this wasn’t my first dip into the pool of physical or spiritual fine-tuning. I’ve been around the wellness block and 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.
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 get enough of in my childhood? Thanks, but I think I’ll wait over here…
Perhaps it’s because of my past stints into the realm of personal development that I’d grown proficient at avoiding the things I needed to face the most. 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.
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, twisting my body, exfoliating tarnished insides. By the time I laid down for breathwork, my heart couldn’t fight against what would be an 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 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 Festival gave me was a new compass. One not rusted with old patterns or calibrated for dead-end shores.
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.
Reflecting on my experience at Wanderlust, my advice to those who truly seek self-discovery should refrain from setting their course towards what they think they need. For if they really knew what they lacked they wouldn’t need to leave home to find it.
Rather, they should throw away their compass and arrive at their True North stripped down and surprised. Surprised that it was in them all along. Surprised to learn that all one needs to find their True North is the courage to face what lies within.
Originally published at coreymccomb.com on March 14, 2018.