Nobody wants to get lost. The idea of not knowing where you should be going poses as the control freak’s worst nightmare. A terrible sense of direction combined with anxiety usually doesn’t bode well for someone who gets lost. Yet, when I found myself in that exact situation, I knew that I needed to figure out how to make the best out of my day without getting myself even more turned around. Who would’ve thought finding myself in this situation would help my confidence flourish?
After hearing about the blooming cherry blossom trees near Embassy Row, I decided to spend my first day of spring break in search for some.
I set my alarm and woke up early enough to beat most of the crowds. I had nothing planned for the day other than this. I then took off in search for the perfect ones to photograph. I wish I realized before I left that my phone didn’t charge the night prior. I captured my photos rather happily without a care in the world only for my screen to go black. My phone died. I dug around in my tote bag for my trusty portable charger. I prided myself on remembering to bring it with me most of the time. And, of course, I forgot it the one time I needed it more than ever.
I closed my eyes and took in a few deep breaths. In. Out. Repeating that three times helped ease my worries more and calm my brewing panic attack. I engraved the metro lines into my mind to protect my own pride against looking like a tourist after months of living in Washington D.C. That thought reinstalled a bit of the confidence that I lost with my newly dead phone. I glanced around until I found the signs for the closest metro station. I strode over to the DuPont Circle station, dug my wallet from my tote bag and went to pull out my pay card as I had a million times before. I flipped it open and went to pull the card out only to see it missing. Did I use Apple Pay to help get me across the city that day and leave my card at home? Yes I did. Cue my hyperventilating.
Not only did my phone die, I couldn’t get a train or bus back to my dorm. Spring break usually means an enjoyable break from the usual stress that comes along with college and assignments, but this has me far more panicked than any essay could’ve made me. After sitting down on a nearby bench, and many moments of trying to convince myself that the world wasn’t ending, I decided to do every introvert’s worst nightmare: talk to strangers. My new goal for the day included trying to make my way back to my campus while trying to enjoy the remnants of my day.
I figured the best way to do this was talking to locals for any recommendations that would lead me towards the Brookland neighborhood of Washington D.C.
The first conversation terrified me, especially since my biggest irrational fear of getting murdered by strangers could happen at any point. But the first lady truly was the sweetest. She worked in the District near the courthouses by the National Mall. As I found myself currently in DuPont Circle, she pointed me in the direction of my first stop, Ala. She recommended I try one of their many flavored lattes as many of her friends recommended them. I accidentally walked by it a few times before I found it and stopped in. I ended up trying the lavender latte, which helped calm my nerves. The light floral notes melded perfectly with the strong espresso. It gave me an extra boost of energy for the rest of my journey
This extra kick of courage helped when I asked my next local where I should head next. They waited alongside me for their own coffee, which helped me strike up a conversation. This time I found myself guided towards the National Mall. The recommendation took me to Duke’s Grocery, already one of my favorite restaurants in the area. I hadn’t realized how close I found myself to it, thanks to my terrible sense of direction. I stopped in and had their scrumptious truffle macaroni and cheese. The crispy crust of the breadcrumbs on top melted into the blend of cheeses. My wallet ached from the two purchases, but the joy reignited in my heart.
I knew enough that I found myself close enough to the National Mall. Tourist watching always helps me feel better. Seeing everyone’s face light up once they see the monuments for the first time warms my heart in a way I can’t properly describe. It didn’t hit me that I slowly turned my rather sudden misfortune into a decent day. Perching myself on the steps of the Lincoln Monument, I sat and watched the tourists go by for an hour. The air around me felt much warmer than the winter months and the sun peaked out from the cloud-cover. I basked in the rare rays for the time I could. After I got my fill of tourist-watching, I stood and slowly began to make my way along the National Mall.
My journey took me towards the United States Capitol building, a path that I had taken many times before. I realized then that the panic lingering in my chest from earlier completely disappeared. I hadn’t noticed the weight of it lifting initially, but now I found myself truly having a good day.
This gave me the final boost of confidence to ask one more person for a recommendation before actually trying to find my way back to campus.
The last recommendation brought me farther north to Compass Coffee. I recalled seeing an ad for their Cherry Blossom Cold Brew on Instagram. I pushed aside my wariness at the thought of any overwhelming sweetness, as it tends to have me gagging, and took the dive to try one. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will ever top that drink for me. I crave it now, even as I live eight hundred miles from Washington D.C. The extra boost of caffeine put a huge smile on my face as I finally tried to make my way back to my college campus. With the help of a few more kind strangers, I found myself back on Michigan Avenue and managed to get back to my college’s campus in one piece.
By that point, I had completely forgotten the panic I felt a few hours before. I found myself visiting a few places I never would’ve without the guidance of locals who knew the area better than I did. I realized then that putting myself out there reaped great rewards. I didn’t often step out of my comfort zone back then. I probably never would’ve done so if my phone dying hadn’t forced me to. This kickstarted my spring break of adventures in trying new places and experiencing new things. So while I do recommend bringing a portable charger with you everywhere you go, I promise the world won’t end if your phone dies and you don’t have access to it for a little while. Who knows? Maybe you will find yourself on your own little adventure.