Tell Me About It: I don’t know how to keep navigating living when I’ve nothing that I want
PROBLEM: I don’t believe I can have what I want in this life and not sure if I can keep going indefinitely.
I’m in my late 30s and have always struggled with ‘what is the point of it all’. I originally studied something to (essentially) make my parents happy (and as an attempt to incorporate my own artistic learnings whilst still being able to get a “real job”) and did it for a few years until the recession and that industry collapsed.
Then I “retrained” in something I wanted much more (writing) but what I really want I can’t make money at. I have a job writing content but want to write books/screenplays but it’s almost impossible to be paid to do that.
I just don’t know how to keep navigating living when I have nothing that I want or would hope to have, or believe might give some purpose to life (family/partner) and can’t seem to get what, or to where, I want no matter how hard I try. I’ve tried gratitude. I’m in therapy. I meditate. I can’t shake the pointlessness of it all.
I’m tempted to run away and start all over again but am worried about funding that. I’m stuck.
ADVICE: You sound very despairing and have had this feeling for a very long time, and so it is not surprising that you are feeling stuck. Yet, you have managed to do so many things that might be expected to work: meditation, therapy and you have a job doing some level of what you are interested in. From your letter, it seems that you have some idea that having a partner and family might provide a reason for living and this desire is a good one, in that it pushes you into wanting a bigger life for yourself.
However, you may be in a pattern of negativity that is constantly reinforced by the sameness of the pattern, so making a change might be a good idea. Of course, we know that we mostly bring our issues with us when we move away but getting a break from the “stuckness” of your life might offer some relief and it just might open some possibilities.
Confidence means to have faith in yourself and this does not mean to just self-analyse but to take actions that are good for you and that support your wellbeing
Your skills (content writing and an interest in screenplays) might be something that could be useful to voluntary bodies, both at home and abroad and it might be worth considering either taking a year off to explore this or join a charity at home.
The reason for this is twofold: you would get to share your love and knowledge of writing and also expand your life to include others. Moving the focus away from your perceived lack of achievement might offer relief and there is nothing more confidence inducing than being seen doing something you love and are good at.
This then brings us to the need for connection and relationship in your life. You are at your most attractive when you are feeling confident and people will be drawn to you and your love of your subject. Confidence means to have faith in yourself and this does not mean to just self-analyse but to take actions that are good for you and that support your wellbeing. This might include exercise, eating well and getting sleep but it also includes spending time with people you like and admire, and this might require some courage as we are often afraid of rejection.
When you embark on change, further change becomes possible and so that first step is key to breaking the stalemate
Locating these people is often a source of stress but you already know that you are searching for purpose and meaning in your life and there are many people also pursuing this goal so look for groups of people who are interested in philosophy and you might find that some of your deepest questions are the topics for discussion.
Many people put the goal of career success or money as the aim of their lives and this is because of the belief that this brings happiness and satisfaction. Research shows us though, that happiness is much more complicated than that and many people who, for example, have come through cancer or a huge setback, often report that they are happier than they were previously.
This is because of a sense of appreciation of every day. You are already practising this but perhaps discussing this and sharing your experience in a group might offer more enlightenment for you. So, whether you move away for a year or choose to stay in your current position, there is a need to enlarge your life and this requires courage and change. When you embark on change, further change becomes possible and so that first step is key to breaking the stalemate.
Plan one change or risk a week – this might mean talking to someone new, checking out a charity or going online to organise a date – and this will lead to pushing the boundaries of your life. Remember that success is in taking the risk and not on the outcome. Do not be daunted by setbacks; this will require an attitude of confidence and you should practise this attitude until it feels natural.