Written by: Ling Xin Sia
You’re going to need a girl who reads maps. A girl who has no qualms trying to find her way around a strange city. From afar, you admire the spunk for being on her own, but remember, she doesn’t feel alone.
The girl who reads maps knows she has a guide to wherever she’s trying to go, and they can take on the world together. This girl refuses to give up; she does not tap the shoulder of the next person who passes by. The girl who reads maps is confident she can find her way.
Yes, the girl who reads maps does not know everything, no matter how strong or independent she appears. In reality, this girl does not know a lot of things. She might not instinctively know which way West is, even as she holds her map up to shield her eyes from the sun that is setting right in front of her. But in time she will learn, and if there is one thing the girl who reads maps is capable of doing, its learning.
You need a girl who reads maps. This is a girl who can navigate streets and alleys and districts and countries and the world. This is a girl who figures out her way around towns and rivers and valleys, and even if she is sometimes unsure of where exactly she ended up, she always finds something else worthwhile on her sojourn. When the girl who reads maps travels- and you can bet she travels a lot- she goes where she and she alone feels an irresistible pull. There is never the need to find a ‘travel buddy’- the girl who reads maps is self-sufficient.
A girl who reads maps knows the importance of plot, of context, of preparation. This girl understands that a great idea by day can become seedy and dangerous and downright stupid by night. This girl won’t blame you for not wanting to head out at 2am to look for an obscure bar in a strange city. The girl who reads might have even presented the idea and offered to go along with you. In this case, say no. She may not even realize it, but she’s testing you. The girl who reads maps knows what’s good for her, and she won’t be hoodwinked into staying with a bad thing. The girl who reads maps has got her stuff together.
The girl won’t bore you with her incessant whining, or complain about the GPS malfunctioning. The girl who reads maps has long learned that a map can get you from Point A to B, but sticking too close to that may cause you to miss out on beautiful things. If there’s anything she hates, it’s the map-sticklers who only care about ticking landmarks off their so-called bucket lists. They are ‘People Who Use Maps as Check-lists’. They are an entirely different species.
The girl who reads maps won’t dump all the responsibility of finding a way out of a tricky situation on you. This girl takes charge, and she delves, wholeheartedly, into conversations with people she meets on the way; she is a keen observer of sights and sounds and smells as she makes her way down winding streets. She knows it’s not the landmarks on the map that are important, but who and what she learns along the way. To a girl who reads maps, there is no such thing as a wild goose chase. Maps exist to show her where she is, but maps do not dictate her journey.
The girl who reads maps might sometimes be late for a date. She might have been too preoccupied by a discovery she made while heading to the restaurant. But the girl who reads maps is eager to share, and if you are gentle and sweet and kind and chivalrous, she might loop her arm through yours and allow you a tiny glimpse into her world after later in the evening.
The girl who reads maps knows when to plan, and when to be spontaneous. She knows the best sort of experiences is usually out in the corner of a street, sometimes on a rainy day that happens to be her birthday. She might have carefully painted on startlingly red lipstick and slid into a slinky dress that’s now dampened by stray rain drops. She knows it’s only with great luck and serendipity that you would bump into a delicious smelling Kebab stand as you two stand huddled under a leaky umbrella. She won’t turn her nose up and insist on the table she had reserved months in advance. She will laugh at your soggy dress shoes and tuck the rain-soaked map into her bra then tuck into the skewered meat.
When years down the road she sees the map, wavy in its waterlogged history, she won’t feel disappointed that that birthday was anything but glamorous. She knows maps and guidebooks and five-star reviews can only mean so much. A girl who reads maps knows how to live in the moment.
The girl who reads maps doesn’t scoff at history. She knows the importance of those who discovered a place before her; she doesn’t seethe with jealousy knowing that others have already been there. The girl who reads maps likes to explore, but she doesn’t make it her goal to simply be the first. She will not begrudge you for having other adventures without her. Everyone deserves a vibrant life.
The girl who reads maps won’t resent a rave-reviewed museum that dropped the ball, or a once-fabulous hotel for not making it through a fire unscathed. Instead, she will take a deep breath and revel in the tales that had started, continued, and ended right where she is now standing. She will write a chapter of her own story there. She knows sometimes, it’s more important to be happy than have a perfect record. The girl who reads maps understands that there is beauty in things that have gone awry.
The girl who reads maps is responsible—she takes care of herself and everything around her. This girl won’t go around dumping litter into the ocean. She will keep plastic bottles for as long as she can, until she sees a recycling bin. The girl who reads maps understands that there will be others beyond her, and she will do everything in her power to nurture and protect what she recognizes as extraordinary beauty in everything.
A girl who reads maps is strong, and smart, and hopeful. And even if she’s not a skilled navigator yet, she is trying her best. A girl who reads maps because she has learned that one simply cannot predict how life turns out, and she is open to truly living. A girl who reads maps is plotting out her future even as she’s living in the moment.