Why am I always getting lost?

Sign says "you're not lost, you're here"

Why am I always getting lost?

This is a question I ask myself regularly. 

I struggle to get my bearings in a large place – even if I’ve been there before.

I’m regularly late because I can’t find the meeting room.

I have to change the map settings so I’m always going forwards (irrelevant of where the compass points). 

And don’t even get me started on people who give directions such as, “I’m East of the park”!

I thought it was just me. A quirk. A bit of a joke. Something I just couldn’t learn no matter how hard I practiced. 

I would get so frustrated with myself (I still do, sometimes) that I just can’t visualize how to get from point A to point B. Even when I’ve been there before. 

But since I started working at RightHear, I’ve learned so much about what it means to have an orientation challenge. I didn’t even know I had one – I just thought I was useless with directions and wayfinding.

And there’s some real science behind my challenges. 

The science

In addition to our 5 key senses of Vision, Hearing, Smell, Taste, and Touch, there’s a sixth and seventh sense.  The vestibular sense regulates our body’s motion. The proprioception sense is responsible for our body’s interaction with our surroundings. 

Collectively these are the interoceptive senses and they give us a general awareness of where we are in relation to the world around us.

For me, these interoceptive senses don’t always function fully. I get anxious when road closures don’t show up on my GPS, and I have to figure out an alternative route. I am awful at First Person Shooter games. I have to check which direction I came from when in a shopping mall because I get confused. 

So I asked myself… is there anything I can do to stop getting lost all the time?

Can things get better?

I try to use landmarks wherever I can to help orient me. This works to an extent, but only if there’s something really distinctive as a focal point.

I can practice improving my mental-map-making skills through puzzles and games. But sometimes I need to just figure out where I am (and where I’m supposed to be) quickly and in the moment. 

Recently, I moved countries, which in itself is challenging. I’m living in an unfamiliar place, with signs and directions in an unfamiliar language. Getting around can be really overwhelming, and Google Maps only gets me so far.

I’m so grateful I discovered RightHear, which has thousands of locations in Israel. I feel like I have my own secret guide in my pocket. And it is all in English!

How RightHear works

Here’s a quick video of how RightHear is helping me get around my new city. I don’t have a visual impairment, but it’s still incredibly useful to me as someone who’s always getting lost and confused. 

What I’ve learned

I’ve really enjoyed researching and learning about orientation challenges more broadly. It’s comforting to know there’s something in my brain that’s wired a little differently. Especially as all this time I thought there was something wrong with me.

It’s not fun getting lost and disoriented all the time. But I now, finally, don’t feel quite so alone. Thank you to RightHear for helping me rediscover the joy of exploring new places!