How Two Boring Sentences Helped Me Stop Feeling Lost

A story about navigating uncertainty and living the questions.

Stephan Joppich
8 min readAug 8


Photo by Sami Aksu

“Can I be frank?”

The lady across from me looked up from the forms in her hand and peeked over the half-moon glasses that throned on her pointy nose. I stared at her like a deer caught in headlights, petrified. After an awkward silence, she allowed herself to proceed.

“You seem a little…”

Oh no, please don’t say it, I thought while she searched for the right word to describe my resume. Please don’t say it. Our eyes locked. Please don’t say —


I slumped deeper into my chair. Lost. Thank you very much. I’d sought out career counseling for encouragement, direction, and answers. But instead, my advisor injected insecurity into my veins.

“Believe me,” she said, “becoming a writer is risky. It rarely works out. Hasn’t worked out for me, either.” She then suggested that I should follow “career trends” and do something “reasonable.”

After the session, I felt dizzy. As if I’d lost the grounding beneath my feet. As if I’d entered a zone of zero gravity, lost in space and time.

The only thing that kept me grounded was the heavy stack of papers my counselor had handed me as a consolation prize. Job offers, flow charts, and fact sheets were waiting to be read, studied, and implemented. “Heck, maybe she’s right,” I thought. “Maybe this is what it takes to stop feeling lost. Maybe I just need to follow a reasonable career rather than squeeze money out of my written words.”

I walked on concrete, directionless.

A few minutes later, I couldn’t take it anymore. I was determined to end my uncertainty. And so, I popped into the next-best cafe, where I would apply to these “trendy jobs” to have a somewhat secure career path — and that would be the end of feeling lost.


“So tell me,” Ms. Strauss said once my classmates had left the room, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”

I always felt nervous when I was alone with Ms. Strauss, mostly because she loved to point out every little flaw in my assignments…



Stephan Joppich

Engineer turned philosophy student • I write about loneliness, minimalism, and books that changed my life • More food for thought →