Ask Ainsley, Student Life

Ask Ainsley: How not to get lost

Dear Ainsley, 

I write to you in utmost embarrassment. It has come to my attention that I have absolutely no sense of direction. In the past, I have been so reliant on my Maps app and my friends that I didn’t realize I had no clue where I was going. It was only recently, when I decided to switch to a dumb phone and commit myself to reading philosophy and becoming a full-time pilates instructor, that all of this hit me. The other day, I was walking to a friend’s house for her wine and cheese night,  I ended up right where I started. What should I do? Please help. 

Thank you, 

Hopeless Helen

“To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.” — Friedrich Nietzsche 

Dear Hopeless Helen, 

I completely understand where you are coming from—know that you are not alone. Follow these tips to get you out of your directionless slump. 

Acknowledge the Shame

Few speak up about their lack of internal compass due to the haunting feeling that torments us all: Shame. First, you must acknowledge that shame. Stop wallowing and get yourself out of bed. Go to the bathroom and take a good look at yourself in the mirror. Do you like what you see? No? Is it because you have deep, unresolved insecurity about your sense of direction? 

That’s what I thought. 

Repeat this mantra:

“I am Helen 

I will tell ‘em 

I will be good at finding my way 

And so I say

Hip Hip Hooray!” 

If your name is not Helen, you’ll have to think of your own mantra. I may have great advice, but I don’t have the time or energy to write a poem for every name out there.

Buy a Map

Step two might be the hardest of all: Buying a map. Not many places sell real maps anymore. But I know a spot. It’s called The Map Store*. Nobody knows where it is because you need a map to get to it. 

Once you have found the Map Store, make sure to buy the biggest and most in-depth map of Montreal you can find. My ex-boyfriend Stuart once went all the way to the map store and bought a map of Edmonton by accident. I dumped him right then and there. 

Plan Your Route

Plan a 20-minute to five-hour walk from your house to somewhere cool. I do not know where you live or what you think is cool so this is a very difficult step for me to help you with. Sometimes you have to do things yourself and can’t have a column lady hold your hand through everything. C’est la vie.

You Are Ready to Take on the Day and Go Everywhere!

Grab your map and a couple of friends and hit the road! Leave your phone at home—in fact, leave everything at home! There is literally no need for keys, wallet, water, or food when you have a map**. 

Making a Mistake

If you find that you are lost, do not back down. Do not start crying. Remember that you are Helen. You are extraordinary, and even the greats make mistakes. If you are with a group, you will have to convince them that this is where you meant to lead them. This is how I ended up playing a great game of strip poker in a retirement home. If you are alone, there are always ways to retrace your steps. That’s why I bring breadcrumbs to mark my path wherever I go, which works 100 per cent of the time, without any fault**. 

I hope this advice helps, and remember: Acknowledging your problem is the first step to solving it. 

To many more great walks,


*Not to be confused with Aux Quatre Points Cardinaux, one of Montreal’s actual map stores.

**At the behest of the law, I have been told to include The Tribune is not responsible for any mishaps resulting from the aforementioned advice.

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