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When You Feel Purposeless and Fear You’re Wasting Time

Feeling Lost

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” ~George Bernard Shaw

I wanted a guarantee.

I wanted to know for sure that if I tried to do something, I would like it; if I devoted my limited time to it, I’d end up somewhere good.

I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and I felt certain this was a phenomenal failing—because if you don’t know right now what you need to do to make your life count, life will pass you by before you’ve ever had a chance to do something meaningful or valuable. At least, that’s what I thought back then.

So I sat around thinking, analyzing, trying to identify something big enough or good enough, terrified that maybe I’d spend the rest of my days feeling purposeless, useless, on the fringe; doing the same thing in my professional life as I’d always done in my personal life: feeling like I was on the outside looking in.

When you’re sitting amid a vast expanse of possibilities, in the pressure cooker of expectations and impatience, it can feel almost paralyzing.

What step do you take when you have a hunch but no solid sense of direction? If it’s only a hunch, then maybe it’s the wrong direction.

And what if you go in the wrong direction? Then you will have wasted time, and time is finite. And everyone else is so far ahead. Everyone else seems happy and successful. Everyone else is climbing the ladder, earning more money, making a difference, mattering.

What if you never matter? What if you never do anything important? And worst of all, what if you never have more than a hunch about what’s important to you?

What if you never feel a spark, a purpose, that elusive “why” that so many people write about?

What if you never care about anything so strongly that it becomes the bliss you have to follow?

Sitting in the Times Square Internet café over a decade ago, searching Craigslist for jobs and gigs, I felt a sense of panic and urgency. I needed to figure it out, and fast.

I was blinded by the fear of never finding what I was looking for, and that made the looking awfully ineffective.

I thought there was something wrong with me for being so uncertain, so resistant, so unable to identify and commit to any path.

In retrospect, I see there was nothing wrong with me, or where I was in life. And there was nothing wrong with living in the maybe, looking for new possibilities.

I wasn’t ineffective because I didn’t yet feel a strong internal pull. I was ineffective because I consistently marinated my brain in anxious, self-judging thoughts.

My biggest obstacle wasn’t that I felt lost; it was that I felt I shouldn’t be. I felt I should have known, right then, not only what I wanted to do but also how I was going to do it.

Because without knowing those two things, I felt adrift and incredibly out of control. How can you let yourself ease into the moment if you can’t be sure it’s leading to a better one?

If I were to walk into that Internet café and approach my younger self, she would probably ignore me, immersed as she was in her frantic searching.

But if I somehow had the power to command her attention, I’d tell her a few things that maybe, just maybe, could relieve her constant worrying and provide both of peace of mind and focus.

You’ll never be effective if you’re convinced tomorrow needs to be better than today, because this belief stems from resistance to the present—and the present is where your power lies.

If you’re looking for purpose from a place of inadequacy, you will likely be too overwhelmed by the need to do something big, that matters to the world at large, to identify what matters to you personally and start taking tiny steps toward it.

Instead of looking for a guarantee that tomorrow will be valuable, know that today is valuable—that you’re not wasting time because you don’t yet feel a sense of purpose. You’re using time well by starting (or continuing) the process of discovering it.

There’s simply no shortcut to “figuring things out”—for anyone. Instead of being hard on yourself for not having clarity, be proud of yourself for moving forward on a foggy road when you could easily find a cloudless, well-beaten path to follow…to certain dissatisfaction.

There’s no set timeframe for doing anything.

You truly can do things in your own time without having to worry about being “behind.” Sometimes it’s the things we do that feel like “stalling” or “getting off track” that end up being the most helpful for our growth.

And besides, what story will be more interesting to flash before your eyes in the end: one that unfolded in ways you never expected, with unique twists and turns; or, one that followed a specific, predetermined timeline with predictable steps from milestone to milestone?

The best way to find direction is to trust your instincts instead of forcing yourself to do things because you think you “should.”

Your intuition is a powerful compass, and even if you think you aren’t making progress, if you’re following your instincts, you are.

There are always going to be opportunities that look good on paper, and that little, scared voice within may tell you that your life will only matter if you take them.

Other people may also tell you this, if not directly, indirectly; or, you may assume they’re thinking this, when really, they’re too immersed in their own confusing journey to pass judgment on yours for long.

But sometimes the best opportunities are the ones you don’t take, leaving yourself open for choices that better align with your own values and priorities.

I know this may sound as impossible as growing another lung, but try not to worry so much about what other people might think. They may have expectations, but they aren’t living inside your mind, or feeling your instincts.

The only one who can make wise decisions for you is you. And even if it makes you feel anxious at times, you will eventually thank yourself for being brave enough to follow your heart, not someone else’s head.

When it comes to creating purpose, there truly is no “wrong” decision.

You may think you only have one purpose and that you need to push yourself to find it. And you can continue thinking this, if you’re okay with feeling chronically pressured and scared.

Or, instead of aiming to discover the one thing you’re supposed to do with your life, you could focus on discovering the one thing you want to try right now, knowing that you can change direction any time. And that changing direction won’t be something to be ashamed of; it won’t mean you failed at discovering your purpose before. It will mean you had one purpose then, and now your purpose has evolved.

It will mean you’re brave enough to let yourself evolve, repeatedly undertaking the sometimes terrifying process of discovering what else you can do.

Maybe that in itself can be a purpose—to live life in that vulnerable, uncertain place where you’re not boxed into one way of being; unencumbered by the need to define yourself and your place in the world; free to roam when it would feel much safer to tether yourself to one role.

Ten years ago I thought I was a failure because I hadn’t done anything that felt important. I now know it was all important, and not just because it brought me to this site.

All those steps were important because those steps were my life. And my life is valuable and worth enjoying regardless of what I do professionally.

Ironically, adopting this mindset makes it so much easier to create meaning in life, because suddenly it’s not about what you have to do. It’s about what you want to do. It’s about where your heart’s pulling you in this moment.

And that’s what it means to find direction—to follow those pulls, without a guarantee, knowing that the goal isn’t to end up somewhere good but to learn to recognize the good in this very moment.

This moment isn’t merely the bridge to where you want to be. This moment—this crucial part of the process—is a destination in itself, and now is your only opportunity to appreciate it, and appreciate yourself for living it.

Photo by h. koppdelaney

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha's Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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  • expectancy

    “When you’re sitting amid a vast expanse of possibilities, in the pressure cooker of expectations and impatience, it can feel almost paralyzing.”

    OMG!!! You have totally nailed it!!!

  • yesudas

    Very aptly written Lori… Like you were reading my mind…Thats probably I am in this current situation exactly thinking this, having quit work and finding the direction and purpose… Thanks for sharing this Lori!!

  • Really great post Lori! I particularly like your line “when it comes to creating purpose, there truly is no “wrong” decision. I like your choice of the word creating. Too many of us are trying to find our purpose. So we waste time, hoping that somehow that purpose will somehow magically find us. Meanwhile we could have been creating our purpose this whole time.

    And as you say, there truly is no wrong decision. What matters, in my opinion, is that we commit to our chosen purpose and put energy into making it work. All the while holding loosely so that we can change direction if/when the need arises.

  • This is such an amazing post! I was just thinking about how I have achieved nothing in this summer vacation but it’s because I was always living in the “tomorrow” trying to figure out what big thing I can do and change my life. I forgot to live in the present! Although now I can change me mindset thanks to this great article. Thank you so much Lori xxx

  • Amy

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for these words this morning. It truly resonated with me in the most profound way.

  • Anonymous

    Wow Lori. I feel like I could have written this article. I’m going through this process right now, and it’s even worse because I feel like I’ve already found my passion (singing) because nothing else has ever made me feel the joy I feel when I’m performing, and yet…rejection after rejection, for over a year now. I’m almost at my breaking point and I feel a mix of resentment, defiance, and yet resignation. To be honest I can’t even picture a future without the stage, but circumstances seem to be forcing me to explore other options. In some way I think that this hurts even more than being directionless-being able to see your vision so clearly and yet having it be out of reach and watching others grabbing opportunities that you KNOW you could excel at.

  • Anon

    THANK YOU!!!

  • Thank you for this amazing post.. a great read..

  • bellie

    Hi Lori, I’ve been an avid supporter of tiny buddha, the articles contributed here have helped and support me in ways that you can’t imagine, & I only wish that there’s such a platform when I was younger with depression. And this article in particular has prompted me to comment and share with you how much your writing tugged my heart and at some point made me tear. The vulnerability is so familiar that it still haunts me. This year has been full of surprises so far, i lost an important relationship, still can’t secure a job after 6 months of job-hunting, and losing myself. Even though I have the other articles to accompany through my doubtful times, none have been as accurate as this. Thank you, for writing this, for letting me come to terms, and giving me the courage to step into the unknown after seeing how successful you are. I am going to quit my job end of this month and embark on a solo europe trip. I’m not sure what lies ahead, but I know it’s better to move to the unknown than remain comfortably with a steady but doubtful job, waiting in the fog. Thank you once again, Lori.

  • Michael Scott Dembesky

    This was beautiful, thank you so much… & great timing for me to read it…. as its said, there are no accidents in the universe. I know all too well that sitting in the cafe & trying to figure it out feeling…. thanks again, this was amazingly powerful in so many ways.

  • You’re most welcome, Krishna! I hope you have an enjoyable rest of the summer. =)

  • You’re most welcome. =)

  • You’re most welcome!

  • You’re most welcome, and thanks!

  • I’m sorry to hear about what you’ve been going through. The entertainment business can be so tough. What is your vision?

  • You’e most welcome. I’m glad you found it helpful. =)

  • I’m glad this resonated with you!

  • You’re most welcome. I’m glad it helped!

  • Thanks Ed! Regarding the pursuit of “finding our purpose,” I liken it to the hunt for our “one soul mate.” Whenever we convince ourselves there’s only “right” choice, and we may somehow fail at finding it, we create immense pressure that shuts us down to the many possibilities available to us. Ironic, for sure, that looking can be the barrier to finding.

    Hold loosely is wonderful advice! We are ever evolving, so it makes sense that our values, priorities, and desires would evolve, as well!

  • Hi Bellie,

    I’m so glad the site has been helpful to you. You’re most welcome. Congrats on your decision and the adventure ahead! A solo Europe trip sounds amazing. =)

    Lori

  • Gabriel

    what a beautiful article, rang plenty of bells… Thank you. I agree with you: listening to that inner voice, and discerning it from all the “should’s” one can be brought up with, that is the key.

  • Anonymous

    I just want to be of service, really. By living my passion and inspiring others through my work, my life story, helping others to identify their higher purpose, to help them heal…so many things. I see myself being a healer, perhaps a motivational speaker, a trainer, a teacher, and also a performer. I can’t shake the deep knowing I have inside of me that my gifts play a big part in what I’m here to do, so that’s why I’m having so much trouble accepting this stagnation.

  • hopefull

    I just lost my job and am taking two days to myself before trying out at a new place, and I was feeling as though I should be doing it RIGHT NOW, and that I should have more plans if each job I try to get fails, which could go on forever! This post is just what I needed right now! In this uncertain time of my life, there is nothing wrong with not knowing where I’m heading or not jumping to it right away and wasting time. It makes me feel as if I’m not a failure

  • Sarah

    This is lovely, Lori! Thank you. I always enjoy your posts and the guest posts on your site. Today your post here is special. It speaks directly to where I am this very moment. Thank you for the hope you have given me today! You are a blessing to the universe! Love and light to you! ~ Sarah

  • Hamza

    Thanks so much for this Text Lori, every Single sentence is relateable and you really understand what it feels like, i find Myself in This Self Judging Situation right now and you’ve really helped me taking a burden of my shoulders 🙂 i really appreciate the time and Effort you put in This Text and thank you sincerely, i wish you only the best <3

  • Emily

    “And that’s what it means to find direction—to follow those pulls, without a guarantee, knowing that the goal isn’t to end up somewhere good, but to learn to recognize the good in this very moment.” . . .OH such profound words! I enjoy all your posts Lori but this one is so timely for me at the crossroads I’m at with my life/work. For years I have been directionless because I was too afraid to follow those pulls because of the unknown tied to it. But here I am now, realizing my fears have stifled my growth and passed opportunities to the good in the very moment. I will not dwell in the time wasted, but take now to act upon all the wondrous opportunities I still have available to me. Thank you for your inspiring words!

  • _iv

    how do we share through tumblr?(:

  • Tim

    I recently sat down and wrote something similar to this in my journal. I felt it pulling, tugging on me. I’ve recently been neglecting the present. I found myself falling back into the trap of continually second-guessing my actions. Critiquing my life and decisions. Nothing is “good enough” I told myself. “There’s so many terrible things in the world and I need to prepare for them ALL. Imagine not being able to eat. Remember when we lost our house to foreclosure as a child?” On and on I would ramble in my head. I brought myself to the edge. Then it dawned on me all one day. I was running from the Now. I forgot the purpose and value which living in the present can bring. Some might say, “a peace that surpasses understanding.” To live with faith that there is value in my experience and even though I might have some debt, I choose not to allow negatives define me. My child’s mind is back online and I see with the eyes of imagination and possibility. I will no longer second guess my narrative which I’ve constructed to make sense of the world. There is value in the mystical experience and I will not judge myself for acknowledging this fact. Passion and purpose will lead me into deeper discoveries about myself and I will engage others on their own path in hopes that they, too, might begin to see themselves for who they truly are.

  • Carolynne Melnyk

    Wow, this took me back! It was only when I was “brave enough to let yourself evolve, repeatedly undertaking the sometimes-terrifying process of discovering what else you can do.” I finally came to the point where I realized that life was a grand series of experiments that I learned to embrace the moment. Then life became joyful and more fluid! Thank you for this lovely article.

  • Love this! Those darn ‘shoulds’ get me every time ;p

    Coincidentally, a friend shared an Eckhart Tolle quote with me today that goes perfectly with this:

    “Life will give you whatever experience is most
    helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is
    the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having
    at the moment.”

    🙂

  • Are you doing anything now to be of service and help others in this way? Or do you have any thoughts about how you could start doing this? (Feel free to not answer if I’m prying too much!)

  • I’m so sorry to hear about your job. Taking some time to yourself sounds like a great idea. You’re definitely not a failure. We’ve all lost jobs before, and we’ve all felt uncertain at times. I’m glad this helped–and I wish you much peace as embark upon this next chapter in your life!

  • Thanks, Sarah, and you’re most welcome! Love and light back to you! =)

  • You’re most welcome. I’m glad I’ve helped lighten your burden a little. =)

  • Thanks, Gabriel, and you’re most welcome!

  • What a beautiful quote! It’s such a relief to consider that there’s nothing wrong with wherever we are–and that maybe, it’s exactly where we need to be.

  • You’re most welcome! I love that–a grand series of experiments. I think of life in a very similar way. I hope to look back on my life and see a melange of different places, different experiences, and different people. That’s what matters most to me: that the adventure continues, and I continually live in the question of what could be.

  • I need to add a tumblr button with the other social media ones–thanks for reminding me!

  • Thanks so much, Emily–I’m glad you enjoy my posts. And you’re most welcome. I’m excited for you and your new possibilities! =)

  • GodsChick

    Great article Lori. Very encouraging!

  • Thanks so much!

  • Becca

    You totally read my mind with this post Lori – it’s exactly how I am feeling and the place I am in now! I’m going to print it out and keep it – thank you!:)

  • You’re most welcome!

  • shanna

    Thank you soo much for this article. Everything you wrote is exactly what I am experiencing right now. I am so thankful to you for writing it, because it lets me know that im not the only one experiencing these feelings. I felt a sense of calm as soon as finished reading this. thanks again and god bless.

  • You’re most welcome! You’re definitely not alone. I’m thrilled to know this helped you in this way. =)

  • Carmen

    Everything we do matters.
    Sometimes we don’t have the energy for giant leaps.
    We need a break.
    Zoom out. Let the little things matter for a while.
    It’s the little things that fill in the cracks.

  • Keryn

    Loved this post, especially –

    “But sometimes the best opportunities are the ones you don’t take, leaving yourself open for choices that better align with your own values and priorities.

    I know this may sound as impossible as growing another lung, but try not to worry so much about what other people might think. They may have expectations, but they aren’t living inside your mind, or feeling your instincts.

    The only one who can make wise decisions for you is you, and even if it makes you feel anxious at times, you will eventually thank yourself for being brave enough to follow your heart, not someone else’s head.”

    I was offered a job last week, I’ve been unemployed for 3 months and studying psychology. I needed that job, but something screamed at me, don’t take it!! It was a very strong feeling. I asked myself, would I want this person to be my mentor, is their practice the way I would want my practice to operate, feel and present. Is it what I would want the first impressions of my practice to be? My answer was no to all of those questions. So, I said thanks, but no thanks and back to the drawing board for me. Everyone was saying “just do it for the experience, you can leave when you’ve had enough or don’t like it” but the feeling of no was too strong for me. The relief I felt when I told them, was enough for me to know I made the right decision for me. I’m in the second year of a six year long road to changing my career and life purpose (at 39 yrs old!) and it’s articles like these that keep me going, and know that I am on the right path. Thanks Lori.

  • Makayla

    “This moment isn’t merely the bridge to where you want to be. This moment—this crucial part of the process—”

    When I feel like I’m just sitting here… making no improvements whatsoever, hoping that my attempts will succeed, I think of it as the time that needs to pass for me to get where I want to be. It’s so hard for me to enjoy THIS moment, when I feel it’s not good enough… not where I want to be. Of course, this stems from my thoughts that everything has to be “perfect.”
    If only I can learn how to live in this moment….living it just as happy as I would live the moments in my life of success & contentment… I would enjoy life so much more and realize ‘now’ is where I’ll always be.

  • Kevin

    Wow. Talk about hitting home. I need I be easier on myself and stop worrying about reaching that “place” that does not exist. I need to really find a way to lose my anxiety about the past, future, and my current place in life. Thank you for easing my mind some on a very long, stressing day.

  • Ambar

    Hello Lori,
    I am currently facing a difficult situation dealing with my future and career.This article describes some of my current feelings. You mentioned that sometimes we don’t need to know our destination in life and just be present; that we have unlimited time to change and evolve. I must admit that I am so scare of failure, to the point that I sometimes force myself to do things just to prevent the pain that it might cause me, and I feel that to so many of us money and other social factors limit our evolution. Now I feel that my calling has evolved and my interest do not match my “calling” which I have known since I was a little girl. I am currently in college and as you now most of the time as student we live in the future. My question is, what can we do ( like a daily exercise) to let go of these bad behaviors and ideas? How do I surrender the future and let go of the image that I had for myself?
    Thank you very much, it is a difficult process but your article helps a lot 🙂

  • Hi Lori, Thanks so much for a post that gets right to the heart of why it’s so easy to NOT move forward. ‘I wanted a guarantee’ – BOOM! that’s it – right there.
    Beautifully written. Thank you again!

  • Hi Lori,
    Nice and thoughtfully written post. The quote by George Bernard Shaw fits so perfectly for purpose of life. It’s not about finding the purpose of life, its about creating the purpose. Thank you for insightful article.

  • Great post. I have come up with a thousand different configurations and directions for my life, and at the end of the day, I just have to accept that life is messy. It’s not always perfect. And be ok with that. I’ll land on something good someday. And learning to feel your way through life is important important too, it kinda takes the pressure off your mind!

  • Thanks Vijay, and you’re most welcome!

  • Thanks, Cat–I’m glad this spoke to you!

  • Beautiful advice. Reminds me of this quote: “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”

  • Hi Ambar,

    Do you meditate? That’s the best daily exercise I know to help you stay in the present and access your intuition. Yoga has similar effects. In fact, it was yoga that eventually helped me find clarity and direction during my time in New York, because it enabled me to find mental stillness and get out of my own way. Both of these practices help tremendously with letting go and moving beyond the ego.

    You can find all kind of guided meditations on YouTube by searching for “guided mediation” and other keywords, like “acceptance,” “anxiety,” etc.

    Of course, you may still deal with these very normal fears at times, but making time for a daily mindfulness practice will go a long way!

    Lori

  • You’re most welcome. I know it’s not easy to let that anxiety go. I’m glad this helped. =)

  • As a fellow perfectionist, I hear you! One thing I realized in New York is that I would only appreciate purpose/success, if and when I eventually experienced them, if I learned to be happy with myself and my life independent of those things. I had to get to the root of my inadequacy issues first, both to enable myself to create a purpose that wasn’t based on my fear of not being good enough, and to ensure that when I chose a path, I was actually able to appreciate and enjoy it.

    I’ve known so many people who imagined life would magically change when they reached their professional goals, only to one day realize they’d accomplished everything they hoped to, but still felt lacking–and a sense that life was lacking.

    Have you ever seen the movie Memento? (*Spoiler alert*–if you haven’t seen it and would like to, stop reading!)

    In it, the main character has short-term memory loss, and he’s on a mission to find out who killed his wife. We eventually learn that he actually already solved the case–but he destroyed the evidence, knowing he would forget, so that he could keep looking, because that looking gave him a purpose.

    I think that same thing happens to us. We get addicted to the searching, looking for something to fill an emptiness. And even if we eventually find “it,” we may still feel empty.

    So this is my long-winded way of saying we can save ourselves a lot of disappointment by using the road to purpose and success not just to get where we want to be, but to heal ourselves so that when we get there, it adds to our life, instead of magnifying the underlying issues we never addressed.

    When you think of it like this, it can almost seem like a blessing to have that time that needs to pass, because it’s an opportunity to work on the internal before the external changes.

    I hope this helps a little!

  • That’s wonderful, that you were able to follow your instincts–and with so many other people encouraging you to ignore them. You’re most welcome. I’m glad this reinforced that you’re indeed on the right path. =)

  • Fooshnik

    Hello Lori, It seems that any Tiny Buddha post I see on a given day directly relates with a current challenge that I struggle with. This one especially! Thank you for sharing your story and perspective as it has given me a new awareness and relieved some of that pressure.
    Cheers!

  • You’re most welcome! =)

  • Chi

    This wonderful post truly resonated with me. I’m living in a new chapter of my life and your words helped me to hope and have courage again. Thank you Lori!

  • You’re most welcome. Congrats on the new chapter–and new adventure. =)

  • John

    A superbly written article. I am shocked at how accurately it portrays my own feelings and experiences. Thank you.

  • Thanks John, and you’re most welcome. =)

  • bananaspy

    Thanks for the article. I’ve gone back to school for a second degree after working only a year in the field of my first degree and now I feel lost. While I’m doing well in classes, I often question the real world aspect of my pursuits (audio engineering) and start to experience terrible doubt or fear that I’m making yet another choice that’s not going to satisfy what I think I’m supposed to be. The only days I feel confident about it are the ones I choose to enjoy the pursuit of the passion instead of dreading failures that may or may not happen. Finding other people that feel lost in some sense eases up some of the despair of it.

  • angie

    I discovered Tiny Buddha in the last couple of months and it’s been a real inspiration to know I’m not alone in my struggles with finding purpose and passion.
    I’m currently at a crossroads in life which some may call “mid-life” crisis I expect (crikey, how did I get to be “middle aged”?!!) after throwing in my job of 15yrs and doing “nothing” but reading, walking, chilling, taking up yoga/meditation,a wee bit of casual work and getting to know “me” over the last 6mths. It’s been hard – firstly really leaning into my emotions rather than escaping them and secondly not being pulled into what some (including me) might think I “should” do – like get another fulltime permanent job, study, travel, etc.

    You’re right about being patient with ourselves and our current path even when it feels we aren’t on one. I’ve had to remind myself of this at times when I feel the pressure to do something else:
    “The only one who can make wise decisions for you is you, and even if it makes you feel anxious at times, you will eventually thank yourself for being brave enough to follow your heart, not someone else’s head.”

    Thanks for your encouraging article!

  • Omar Vargas

    Great read, Lori!

  • Thanks so much. I love what you wrote. I know how hard it can be to accept that life is messy–but it certainly becomes much easier once we do!

  • Thanks so much!

  • You’re most welcome. You are definitely not alone with these thoughts and feelings. Wishing you many more days or enjoyment and passion. =)

  • Jeevan/Mirthu/Gupt

    Same here…but you seem to be quite aware of your own thinking patterns & what seems to cause you pain…most people don’t even realize that until the last of their days & even if they do; aren’t willing to admit to even themselves! The mere fact that you know what you need to work on to find more contentment is a positive step in trying to get there…One of the things I try to remind myself even when nothing seems to get me out of my emotional monkey chatter is, “This too will pass…” Just hang in there!

  • Jeevan/Mirthu/Gupt

    Loved this blog, Lori Didi…beautifully written & one of the most insightful blogs that hit me to the core! Really needed this with a lot of the hopelessness I been feeling lately; thank you so much for sharing your words of wisdom & really glad to see one of your posts again…:).

    Btw didi; what do you think about maybe starting a page in Tiny Buddha for movies/tv shows & trying to analyze the messages that we can take out of the stories & characters, for our own lives..? Just a food for thought, from a fellow movie buff…:P

  • shishir

    Thank u for sharing this. God bless

  • Makayla

    Thanks so much for your support! I never thought of it as a good thing to be aware of what has been causing me emotional pain, now I can think of it as a foundation.

  • Makayla

    I relate to this all too much! I have achieved what I’ve been so determined to, but in the end, it’s not the goal at all, its the feeling of success..only to set a higher standard. Thanks for your advice!

  • Hi Lori!

    Thanks for writing this beautiful article 🙂

    Very timely. This is what I’m going through right now.
    But I’m learning to trust that each of our experience is exactly what it needs to be and it’s molding us for the greater good.

    I love what you said “And that’s what it means to find direction—to follow those pulls,
    without a guarantee, knowing that the goal isn’t to end up somewhere
    good, but to learn to recognize the good in this very moment.”

    Very powerful and reassuring 🙂

    Thanks Lori 🙂

  • Jeevan/Mirthu/Gupt

    You are most welcome…I understand what you are going through, since I’m in the same boat as well a lot of the times. The two people whose writings that have helped me particularly in here are; Lori Deschene & Lisa Esile…Try to read through a lot of their previous posts, I think it might help you a lot as well.

  • Casey

    This is beautiful. It was like I was reading the story of my life. And it’s reassuring to know I’m not the only one travelling down this “foggy” path. Just excited to reach the light at the end of that tunnel, however I get there and wherever it takes me. Thank you for writing this.

  • Thanks Jeevan, and you’re most welcome!

  • You’re most definitely not alone, and you’re most welcome. Something potentially corny just came to mind that I feel the need to share, because I think there’s truth in it: Though we seek the light at the end of the tunnel, there’s also a light right where we stand, the light that’s in each of us. Maybe it’s in realizing this that we’re able to find our way to that other light. (I know, I warned you it would be corny!)

  • You’re most welcome. =)

  • You’re most welcome, and thanks for commenting! I had a feeling this would resonate with you given the post you recently shared.

  • You’re most welcome, Angie. I’m glad Tiny Buddha has been helpful to you!

    Sounds like you had a nice window of time to reconnect with yourself. That’s great! I think so often we feel tempted to rush from one thing to the next, when a little break to reassess can make a world of difference.

    I wish you much peace and joy on your new path. =)

  • Thanks Rahul! I think that’s a great way to keep yourself motivated. Thanks for sharing what works for you. =)

  • Anonymous

    Yeah I’m studying to get ESL certified now, I’ll see where that takes me. No idea what’s gonna happen even a month from now, and that scares me because I always have a plan. It’s been a lifelong struggle learning how to live in the present moment, but I guess this experience is forcing me to do that!

  • That’s wonderful! (The ESL certification part, not the being scared part–though that’s actually a good thing, too, since it means you’re outside your comfort zone.) I hope the upcoming months are full of wonderful surprises and many beautiful moments. =)

  • It did and is helping me a lot. Thank you so much…..

    I didn’t get a chance to say how happy I am for you, that you’re now living your purpose and doing work that makes a difference in people’s lives. And for all the blessings you’re receiving. Really happy for you… 🙂

  • You’re most welcome, and thank you! =)

  • Stacey

    Lori,

    Every sentence of this post had me thinking, ‘Yes, that’s exactly how I feel!’ It’s like you took the thoughts from my mind and translated them into words, and then added your own wisdom. It’s such an overwhelming reassurance to know I’m not alone in this struggle. I intellectually know that there are others feeling the same way, but this post makes me feel it and believe it to be true.

    I can’t express how much this resonated with me – it would take many pages. Your words reached out like a hand to hold my own; that’s how much comfort and understanding it brought for me. All I can say is thank you for sharing your experiences so openly and eloquently. You change lives every day with this website, and that’s truly amazing.

    This post is one of my favorites and will be read many times. Thank you for everything you do. You help people every day, and I’d say that’s the best purpose there is.

    Stacey

  • Oh I love this post, this speaks to my heart well and truly, thanks so much for sharing Lori. I will share this on.

  • You’re most welcome. I’m glad this spoke to you!

  • Hi Stacey,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write. I’m thrilled to know that this post was reassuring to you, and I’m touched and grateful for your kind words. You are most welcome. =)

    Lori

  • Thank you, I shared it on. Great site you have.

  • Thanks so much. =)

  • travelmol

    This is a great article, Lori. Thank you! I recently stumbled upon your
    site and am so happy I did. I’ve been struggling for years now to find
    my life’s purpose after having to leave behind my 16-year creative
    career in 2004 due to repetitive strain injury (RSI). Since quitting my
    “day job,” I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world twice for extended periods of time
    with my husband (14 and 16 months, respectively) and have amassed a
    wealth of amazing experiences, but somehow I’ve returned home to the
    U.S. in November 2013 after our last adventure feeling even more
    unfulfilled and lost than ever. Your article was the first thing I’ve
    read that really inspired hope and a new way of looking at my situation.
    Thanks again – I’m off to read more on the Tinybuddha site.

  • travelmol

    Hi Bellie,
    Just had to comment since I posted right above you. Congrats on the decision to travel. I champion it wholeheartedly, having done so several times now (not alone these past few times, but for long periods). It’s liberating and life-changing and scary and amazing all at the same time. I wish you well!

  • Lin

    So glad to have stumbled upon this article. Reading it really helped me put a lot of things in perspective; a reframing of the mind much needed at the moment since my anxiety these days seem to mostly stem from the feeling that I’m not doing what I’m ‘supposed’ to be doing in life – whatever that is! Am learning to live fully in the present, one day at a time, from hereon. Thanks for sharing, Lori. 🙂

  • You’re most welcome, Lin. I know that dreaded “supposed to” all too well. I’m glad this helped!

  • Lee

    Hi Lori, Wonderful article! Every bit rings true, if only more people were aware of this I believe we’d all be so much happier. I’m just curious what your thoughts are about professions or societies that do not allow such flexibility which seems so counter-intuitive to our human nature. For example, being a lawyer or in terms of societies, countries like Japan where if you became a baker after you graduated college, it would almost be impossible to become a journalist afterwards, despite having a journalism degree due to the way the society thinks or functions. Would you say there are always exceptions? Would you say lead by example so others follow? I believe anything is possible when we are connected with the universe no matter what but just wanted to see what your thoughts are about this 🙂

  • Thanks Lee! It’s tough for me to answer your question, since I can’t speak to this from experience. I’d have a hard time advising someone who lives in Japan, since I don’t know what options are available to them. I do believe, however, that we often have far more options than we think, and if we’re willing to do the work, we can find them.

    I also believe there’s great power in leading by example. It’s like that classic story of the four-minute mile. Everyone believed it was impossible until Roger Bannister did it. But once he did, others followed suit because he redefined what could be done.

  • len

    This doesn’t sound anything close to Buddha or Buddhism, it sounds more like personal advice taking out of a popular magazine.

  • You’re absolutely right. This isn’t a post about Buddha or Buddhism; it’s my personal experience and advice.

  • KC

    Hi Lori,

    Great article. Just wondering how you would feel though if you were still in that coffee shop searching and wondering what to do?

  • Thanks KC. I imagine I’d go through phases. Some days, I’d feel frustrated and hopeless; and other days, I’d feel patient and optimistic. That’s how I felt back then. Hopefully, if I were still in the same exact place now, a decade later, I’d be a little wiser and better able to accept my circumstances and work to create new ones. And hopefully, as a result, I’d feel patient and optimistic more often than frustrated and hopeless.

  • Beautiful post, Lori. We can find ourselves in this situation regardless of where we are in our career/life. As years go by, we rediscover ourselves and get in touch with talents and interests we didn’t know we had. Thank you!

  • Thanks so much, Cloris. So true–we’re always evolving!

  • Mars

    Brilliant post! This is exactly how I feel right now. I have just started my first ever job but I am anxious if this is the right move. Whatever I do, I am always wondering whether I should be doing it or if I should be doing something else. And oh, I love this website. It is as if it’s my own self talking to me! Keep it up Lori. 🙂

  • Thanks so much, and congrats on the job! I’m glad this helped. 🙂

  • Crisan

    Hi Lori, my name is Crisan and I’m a 21 years old female living in Indonesia. This article really describe What I feel at the moment right now. I think it’s only me who feel like this. I’m glad that I’ve found this article and tiny Buddha site. I’ve been living in fear and scared that I can’t have personal growth. I’m always feel like that I’m left behind by many people.I quit college when I’m 19 because it was something that I don’t wanna. Im trying to go to my desire college an art college and then i failed again. This years I’ve been through many things suddenly my parents business having a debt amd my chance to go to art college again is impossible. I feel until now I haven’t created a great progress in my life and I’m so lonely. It’s like no one encourage me. But then I read your post it’s like I’m talking to a friend. And your words are so accurately described how I feel. Thank you so much for writing this for me it’s really a big help. I’ll try to living more at the present. May your days is filled up with happiness.
    Best Regards
    Crisan.

  • Hi Crisan,

    It’s definitely not only you. I’m so sorry to hear about what happened with college and your parents. I know how hard it is to maintain hope and motivation when you feel like everything is working against you. I’m glad this helped you, and I think it’s a wonderful goal you’ve set, to be more present. In my experience, I’ve learned that everything gets easier from there.

    Sending good thoughts your way…

    Lori

  • d

    all good, you do the right thing following your instincts, the wisdom of the old and advice of the young outsiders and still… the feeling is there. It is about the feeling, not about choices made, opportunities seized, directions taken. Every commitment to one direction means that you are not available to other mirriad of options, it is a limitation to freedom. Even if I was rich and famous I’d still have the feeling that the real party is always happening elsewhere while I’m wasting the times of my life in this party. The only way I can get rid of this feeling is contemplation of the nothingness inside me. I realize that the people are not different, the only thing is that they [in their wast majority] don’t think about the passing time, or at least I don’t think they think; they go about their daily life in a routine of coffee, work, entertainment, hangover, sickness and recovery and… coffee, work… And then I think that the passing of time and of life is good- a permanent spring without the warmth of the summer, the fruits of the trees, the melancholy of the amber falling leaves in the fall and the cozy hibernation of the soul inside you in the winter, will never be experienced [and they are worthy of experiencing as part of life]. Same with ages and the ultimate experience- death: things change constantly, just keep curious and enjoy all changes!

  • Rochelle

    I’m sure that if you were barely getting by, with no friends, no family to turn to, no money, unable to find job or continue your education and being forcefully trapped in a island with no future nor possibilities you won’t be talking so lightly of life.

  • oh wow, this is exactly how I am feeling lately. I’m so glad I found your site.

  • I’m glad this helped and you’ve enjoyed the site so far.!

  • Fran

    It’s incredible how you are describing me in the first part of the article! I can definitely relate to every single word you wrote! I am 24 and I am constantly thinking that everyone is better than me because they already have a beautiful job, they’re beloved and confident while I’m living anxiously feeling the pressure of my own expectations and fearing that I am wasting my time. I do want to make a difference and to matter but I feel stuck and I don’t know which way to go! I hope I’ll sort out this situation as you did!
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
    Fran

  • You’re most welcome, Fran. I know what it’s like to feel stuck–and I know how hard it can be to trust and relax when you’re just beginning your career and trying to find your place in the world. I’m glad this helped a little!

  • pearl

    Thank you for this, Lori. Just what I needed to hear. 🙂

  • jon

    I’m not allowed to live the life I want because I still live under my parent’s roof. I’m stuck at a job I hate, I have no money saved up, I have a car I will lose if I lost my job because I don’t have enough to pay it off, but in my heart and in my soul I know it’s time to quit or get myself fired because management has become above and beyond delusional and irrational and unreasonable towards their associates. If I made any sudden changes now, I will be unemployed, homeless, completely broke, and unable to travel because I currently live out in the boondocks. Reading articles like this is only fueling even more panic, despair, and desperation.

  • ME

    i am in the same situation, except i quit my job because the lack of logic and the overwhelming amount of BS that i was facing has started to manifest physically. mentally i was already a wreck, finding out about meditation is what kept my anger from bursting and causing me to kick someone in the head when they started to yell at me. now i am much better but i am facing the prospect of being broke. i am not sure what to do about it. going back to being someones lackey is out of the question.

  • me

    agreed. she does make some very fine points but having lower expectations of yourself does not solve your problems if you are broke. or if stupid people start waging war in your country.

  • You’re most welcome. (And my apologies for the slow response! I somehow missed this comment before.)

  • Ling

    It’s so amusing how they way you write literally spoke my mind and my life at the moment. I’m only 19 going on 20 now and most of you might say I’m still young, but having known how fast everyone is going with their life (some even completed their first year of degree already) scares me. Cause well, I’ve been idle for the past year trying to find my purpose in life whereas everyone else is already on their way there!

    I’m already having interest in a profession (dentistry) but getting there is no easy task in my country due to limited places. :/ I missed last year’s intake so im trying again this year, hoping everything will settle down (*crosses fingers!*) before the year ends.

    I’m glad I came across this article, it’s really comforting knowing I’m not the only one feeling this way although I feel like the only one in my circle having to go through this 🙁 but that quote about being proud of myself for going through the foggy road comforts me the most cause it is so relatable in every way! I really can’t wait to finally get to another stage in life because waiting is so tiring it keeps making me feel worthless. 🙁 Thank you Lori, for comforting me in my hardest moment with your lovely writing. 🙂 Hugs, Ling.

  • Hi Ling,

    You’re most welcome. I’m glad this was helpful to you! You are most definitely not the only one–and not worthless. I think everyone goes through this at some point in time. We all feel that urgency to figure things out and “catch up” with other people. But it plain and simply takes time to find our way in the world.

    There will come a day when you look back and think, “If only I knew then that everything would eventually come together as it has, I would have cut myself some slack, relaxed, and enjoyed the ride.” Perhaps it will help to remember this when you start feeling scared, anxious, or impatient. Sometimes it may not help, and that’s okay too. It’s natural to feel those things when faced with decisions and uncertainty. The important thing is that you don’t let them overwhelm or paralyze you.

    Hugs back to you,
    Lori

  • And THANKFULLY this site was born in your journey. What a wonderful resource for the world. Tiny Buddha always has quality, heartwarming and inspiring articles, and this piece, Lori, shines bright and speaks very strongly to not only me, but other “lost souls” (all of us at one point). This article especially hits home, and is a great personal reminder to myself not to panic. Thank you.

  • You’re most welcome, and thank you for the kind words. It means the world to me to know this site makes a positive difference!

  • Manik

    Hi Lori,

    This is the first time I am writing any sort of comment/ review on the internet. You could say I’m a spiritual guy, and quite stuck at the moment professionally.

    Your article is very helpful and has some great insights that relieve my super-anxious and overwhelming brain. I thank you and really appreciate your article.

  • You’re most welcome. I know what it’s like to have a super-anxious and overwhelming brain! I’m glad this helped a little. =)

  • Chiara

    This was exactly what I needed, at the moment I needed it. All I want to say is thank you. And that I hope I can slowly start to come to the peace, understanding, and acceptance that is the journey.

  • You are most welcome. I’m glad it helped. =)

  • Wendy Jone

    What posts like this, however beautiful and “wise”, never seem to address is the horrible pain of having to choose whether to shred someone else’s life–someone you love, who loves you without holding back and who is giving as much as they can without giving what they can’t–because “following those pulls without a guarantee” will destroy your relationship with them. And you both know that if they came with you, they would have to let go of the self they have become. Someone has to choose to give that last piece. I chose to.

    I keep choosing my 4-year-old love with this person because they have taught me how to laugh and how to love, after I spent 27 years in a wrong relationship. But it also means that the wings I started to put on after my divorce went back into the box. To put them on, and fly away to chase the pulls, would end this relationship with someone who needs to stay, physically, where they are. .

    I have faced this conflict day after day. I continue to choose to stay. The cognitive dissonance feels impossible, yet I live it.

    I would move into the unknown… if only it didn’t mean pain for someone I love too dearly. I just can’t do it. I “hold loosely” daily. My wings are still in the box. But I’m 53. They may never come back out. So now I try to find other wings, every day. But lord, it’s hard, when you have the kind of mind that cares less about security and is more willing to feel “adrift” than does the person you love. I would love to “roam”. I have chosen to tether.

    Many of the posters below sound young. I hope they don’t tether themselves to anyone, or any career, until they’ve worn their own wings for a while.

  • Hi Wendy,

    That’s a tough situation, and I can kind of relate, as I have a lot of freedom with my work and I like to roam, but my fiancé needs to be in one place right now. Have you considered doing some travel on your own? Then you could feed the need for “wings” without permanently leaving your current home. Just a thought…

    Lori

  • Wendy Jone

    You’re right, Lori, a chance of scenery can help, and I love to travel alone! The whole “world wide open” feeling is strong when I can make ALL decisions about what when where how and why, when the “who” is just me. It can be hard to come back, though, as I had envisioned a rather minimalist life on my own, and that simply hasn’t (and isn’t really going to) occur with this partner. And I haven’t been “flying solo” much lately as my extra energy is going towards taking classes and looking into a job/career change. I figure that’s another way to change “scenery”, but it’s also a source of frustration as I have to limit my search to this area and I do see positions across the country that I would pursue if… I didn’t make the decision I did and continue to make.

    Today I went out to eat at a restaurant alone, which I also love to do, and simply sat and watched the present moments go by. And tried to remember that good and bad feelings and experiences will occur wherever I am…

    Sometimes I can grab thoughts like that. Sometimes they slip by, and I return to my usual programming…

    Thank you for responding.

  • You’re most welcome! That’s so true, what you realized at lunch. At times, I’ve been guilty of assuming the gypsy lifestyle is not only carefree, but more consistently happy than a stable one, and I’ve learned that’s not true. No matter where I go, I will always experience highs and lows and everything in between. We all will.

  • shivam

    hey ! i do feel like studying for competitive exam and my regular studies but often end up wasting it up or totally killing it by thinking about somethin else. i get easily distracted by things around me or thoughts that creep in. i wasn’t like this earlier but since last year i dont know happened to me i’m never able concentrate. i dont even remember when was the last time i studied with full concentration. and at last when i sit up studying having a book in front of me i fell i should proberbly study other book. say if i’m studying my regular course book , i feel like studying my competitive exam book n vice versa. this deadlock prevents me from getting out any output.
    PLZ tell me what should i do. main thing is i just end up killing my time and repent afterwards. i’m damn confused!!!!

  • Lori, I think this is one of the best articles I’ve read in my life. I’ve passed it on to friends 🙂 Thank you so much! Maria

  • You’re most welcome. I’m glad you found it helpful!

  • Shikynah

    That moment you had in the Internet cafe resonates with what I am going through right now. I googled “when you feel like there’s no progress in your life” and this came up. I found so much peace and relief after reading. I Found comfort Knowing that I am not alone in this world. And has reassured a few life changing decisions I have made based on intuition. Thank you for creating this.

  • You are so not alone, and you are most welcome. =)

  • Nick

    True. So..true. Made my day :).

  • Nick

    In my own recent experiences of jobsearching, I admit to feeling vulnerable and nervous. One particular day I was sitting by my handset, constantly checking in a cyclical manner, emails, SMSs, missed calls, emails, SMSs…etc.

    That afternoon I sat with my father in the garden..feeling despondent for what seemed like an eternity. I asked him, “Dad, what’s wrong with me? Do I not have any ability that could get their attention to call me?” To which he replied calmly, “Let them come to you”. And something clicked in me hearing that. Instantly all that insidious anxiety and worry, stress and sadness washed over. I stopped wanting that feeling to control the situation, not unlike holding one’s breath.

    The call did come later that day to progress through!

  • Nick

    It’s amazing how we lose that fear when we lose what we perceive to be everything :).

  • Nick

    One that comes to mind, may I say is Under a Tuscan Sun!

  • hettie

    Hi Lori, what is your advice for someone who is still searching for the right job in their 30’s. I am a trained lawyer, with no interest in practising. I cannot explain this feeling to my friends or family, because i have not found an alternative job yet. I have this deep feeling of being trapped in a life i do not want to live when i consider practising. I just want something different. Thanks.

  • Hi Hettie,

    I don’t know a ton about practicing law, but it would be possible to work fewer hours so you have time to try different things? If not, could you perhaps try some different hobbies or volunteer in your free time to see what else might interest you? If you have a lot saved, you could just take the leap, quit your job, and then see where your heart takes you, but this would certainly feel less risky.

    Sending good thoughts your way,
    Lori

  • lalalaratman

    Hi Lori,
    I randomly came across this particular article, while browsing online during a tough moment in my life (plus the overflow of emotions at 3 a.m. haha). But can I just say that I am blown away by how you took the words right out of my mouth and yet, nobody in my surrounding understanda the slightest point of what you just wrote. Your beautiful writing had definitely created a purpose for people like me and you are such a blessing along with your talent to write. I love love love this article so much. And I’m a picky reader, so only a few writing usually move me. This whole article emobodies exactly what I have been feeling for the past few months and that “instinct” you mentioned is definitely what I am working towards and that feeling of “wanting to try right now” is exactly what is through my mind. AND YET, nobody understands and instead pressures me and pushes me into doing something that “I HAVE to do” and will “probably will benefit me in the super long run” but DEFINITELY not where my instinct tells me to go follow. So, yes. I would like to thank you once again for writing such a beautiful article. And I honestly cannot hesitate longer to follow more of your writing in the future. Many thanks, Lori

  • NightFire

    hi… I’m 24 and I don’t have official Girl friend yet , my work is ok , and I’m studying , I’m not that much cool but I’m good , every time I get know to a girl that I want to have relation ship with , I start to feel that I don’t worth to be with her , I’m not as much cool or good to be with her…. what can I do ? how i can change my self ? all I want is classic respectful girl to be with that everybody respect her … but don’t know why I’m not brave or don’t know how to get her ?

  • Hi there,

    Sorry for the painfully slow response! Thank you for taking the time to write, and you’re most welcome. I know what it’s like to feel like no one understands what you’re feeling, and I also know how tempting it can be to give in to what other people want for you. Good for you for listening to your instincts! I’m sure it will serve you well. =)

    Lori

  • Estelle

    Hi Lori,

    First of all thank you so much for your website ! It really helps me a lot, and i’ve been reading many posts these last few days. I am trying to “find myself” as they say, and dealing with a lot of anxiety. I graduated from high school (with great marks) at 17, my parents were then “together”. But as soon as I started college, my dad moved out because we got a great new house (and my parents didn’t tell me they were having problems, so I didn’t know he was actually leaving in that way). Not very long after, my mother tried to committ suicide. It affected me a lot, and I kind of stop caring about myself. Suddenly I wanted to have fun all the time and not worry about anything. She was at the hospital for several months, my dad was handling things as he could. And when she got cleared to go back home, they both moved in the house… 800kms away from me. I was only 18, and even though I acted all tough, I realize now that I needed to rebuild trust with them, and not be left alone. Today I feel like they abandoned me at the time. Anyway, after these difficult times (and during), I was at college but I didnt’ attend. And step by step I failed. This first college year was surprisingly a great experience because I met my boyfriend and we moved in together, but at the end of the year, since nothing was keeping us there, we moved to Belgium (we were in France then) to start fresh. I struggled / had too much “fun” (yes those two can work together…) so I failed again, and succedeed the next year. So, I was 3 years out of high school and only had 1 actual college year that “mattered”- in terms of recognition (BA1). I had developped some kind of phobia about studying, and going there. It was hard for me to want to go, I felt alone, I couldn’t make real friends. I felt like an outsider. My BA2 went the same way. I didn’t pass the exams, so I only have less than half of the credits. For work and personal reasons, we went back to France where I wanted to go back to music. That’s why I got back into my old music school … and repeating the same f*cking schema. It scared the hell out of me to take action, to be a part of my life. I was looking at my life, almost like it wasn’t real. I suffered a lot from my own mistakes and actions. I didn’t know why I acted in a way that made me so sad. I was disappointed in myself. My self-esteem is very low at the moment. I am 22 and have no idea how to live my life. I don’t know where to go in september. I don’t know if I’m going to be expelled from my music school because they almost don’t know I exist (I didn’t go…) and my main teacher is angry with me. I’m not sure what to do. My parents are no help, ’cause they can’t even help themselves. My boyfriend wants me to stop seing the negative side of things, and dare to be myself. He wants me to be happy, and to pursue my dreams. I feel very confused. I don’t know how to build a path to the life I want. That’s why I read your posts, and try your methods. I listed my values, I underligned those that I need in my life, those I want… I’m really trying. I just want to feel confident again. I feel like I lost myself and it’s very difficult to just focus and look at myself.

    I don’t really know where I’m going with this. But I hope you can help, or at least my message is heard by someone. Thank you. Namaste.

  • Hi Estelle,

    I’m so sorry to hear about everything you’ve been through and what you’re going through now. I can understand why you’d feel lost and unconfident, given your past.

    It sounds like your boyfriend is a great support for you. How do you feel about his advice to go after your dreams?

    Lori

  • Estelle

    Thank you so much for answering my comment. It really means a lot.

    I feel mostly scared. Sometimes it’s like, the more I want something, the less I dare to reach it. Probably because I’m scared of being even more disappointed. Going after my dreams seems so complicated… I dream of making a career out of singing, I dream of being on stage, and shooting movies. And I keep hearing my dad’s voice in my head saying “your dreams are supposed to be dreams, and then there is reality where you must earn a living and work”.

    Right now I just want to belong somewhere, and I don’t want to be expelled from my school at all… I just wish for a second (or third, fourth, I don’t know…) chance. The phobia of scolar environments is not really recognized as such, I’m afraid they’re going to think that I disrespected them.

  • You’re most welcome. I understand that fear. It’s not easy to follow a path that doesn’t feel practical, especially when it’s not what others want for us. Still, I’ve found I’m the happiest and most satisfied when I follow my instincts and worry less about what others think and want.

    If you knew your father would support whatever decision you made–and that you’d be fulfilled through the process of pursuing what you love, even if it doesn’t pan out exactly as you’ve visualized it–what would you choose to do now? You don’t need to answer this for me; it’s just a question that may help you find some clarity about what you really want to do.

    I hope this helps a little…

    Lori

  • Abhilasha Gupta

    Hi, You have written a beautiful article. I always feel anxious about not having a purpose to my life. I still haven’t found the answer though.
    Somehow, I always find that people associate freedom with travelling. In our generation, ‘solo Euro trip’, ‘go out, ‘explore’ is the new mantra of happiness. I thought there was something to it. I went on a trip to Europe alone. It was a disaster. I was lonely, bored and frankly foreign to the food and language, so it was very difficult for me. I do not understand why living your life or having a purpose means travelling the world. Why can’t I be at home and still have some meaning to life? Why do I need to travel to give myself a purpose? There has become this popular social pressure to travel and boast about it. People enjoy the travel much less than they like to post pictures of it and tell everyone they travelled- that ‘telling people’ seems to be the whole point now. I disagree with the idea. I think- to each his own- people can be in one place all their life and still be very happy.
    Still, I thank you for writing a good piece. 🙂
    Regards.

  • I’m with you–to each his own! We’re all different, and we all want and value different things.

    You’re most welcome. =)

  • I believe that if we serve others in some way we find,stumble, run into purpose. The journey to get there might be rough but necessary.

  • DtotheP

    This is an interesting and fun site, I have to admit. As someone who just hit the 3-0 mark a few months ago, I think differently about this.

    My 20s were up and down but filled with possibilities and solid accomplishment. The main thing that I didn’t like (which I can still do now) is be with more girls that I found attractive. Sexually, intimately etc. I’m getting my degree done now and making TONS of my art that I took a big 5-10 year break on. Depending on who you ask about it. I had two startups with friends that I screwed up. The first one was just a passing fad that everyone is trying to make money from. But I blasted my friend online back in 2010 and I don’t talk to him anymore. It’s awful.

    My ex was a terribly lazy girlfriend who didn’t know what she was doing at the time and now I don’t really like girls at all. So to sum up, going back to school for associates, painting much more (although still not as much to make money that I want) and wanting to date and get out of Michigan but have no job besides my dads office. I’m depressed and don’t really know what to do. Life pretty much sucks for me and even though I have a therapist I trust, I know that all of my anger and depression comes from both living with a brother 8 years younger than me and the last 5-6 years. Before that I don’t really care as it was too long ago to make the changes.

    I know I’m an aware person but my depression and ADD don’t allow for my Carpre Diem like it used to. Although even then, it was useless Carpre Diem. I basically suck at finishing things off or completing them. For me in 2015 right now, this is life.

    Dear fucking God lol.

  • Hi Estelle,

    It made me so happy to read your comment! I’m excited to read about your realizations and your next steps. You’re most welcome. I’m glad I helped!

    Thanks so much for sharing your link with me. I look forward to checking it out. =)

    Lori

  • Icreative Shah M

    Hi lori,
    Im an utter failure who never got selected in any job interview despite of having a masters degree. I’ve been graduated four years back and now ended up with a job which is kinda disgraceful and quite mismatch with my qualification, a salary im paid equivalent to a sweeper which is devastating me internally and its because perhaps i see my friends, or junior fellow in managerial positions. Though im struggling to create myself by doing something which isnt my field but again im struggling since 4 years and yet no success come across to me..

  • Icreative Shah M

    Hi lori,
    Im an utter failure who never got selected in any job interview despite of having a masters degree. I’ve been graduated four years back and now ended up with a job which is kinda disgraceful and quite mismatch with my qualification, a salary im paid equivalent to a sweeper which is devastating me internally and its because perhaps i see my friends, or junior fellow in managerial positions. Though im struggling to create myself by doing something which isnt my field but again im struggling since 4 years and yet no success come across to me..
    I dont see any purpose of doing this job, feel like im wasting my time but at the same time hoping for the twist to come..im uncertain, moving towards the darkside and breaking my own expectations from myself..after reading all that you wrote im still unable to figure out my current position..tears**

  • Hi there,

    My heart broke for you in reading your comment, as it sounds like you’re being pretty hard on yourself. Even if you’re not yet doing work that satisfies you, that doesn’t mean you’re an utter failure, or that your work is disgraceful. Sometimes it just takes time to find your way in life.

    Let me ask you this: is it possible that you’re learning things now that might help you later in life? Is is possible that this experience is making you stronger? Is there anything else you can gain from going through this that you might appreciate when you look back at your life (long after getting through this and finding work you love)?

    I know it’s tough to have this kind of perspective now, when you’re right in the middle of the hardship and feeling the corresponding emotions. But try to remember that things won’t be like this forever. And they will likely improve far sooner if you accept this time in your life for what it is, try to shift your perspective, and treat yourself with kindness as you work at creating change.

    You WILL get through this! It’s not a matter of IF; it’s a matter of WHEN. And you will look back, like I have, and say, “Back then, I wish I realized…”

    Sending good thoughts your way…

    Lori

  • Icreative Shah M

    Lori,
    I’m short of words to praise you for encouraging me, I just can only say Thanks to you. But to be honest, I’ll feel myself an utter failure until i find a through and garner another better job. The question here arises What i’ll gain in future when i’m doing a lowest level of job that an uneducated sweeper can also does if he is explained about the responsibility of this job. I’m not adding such value to the company where i’m working and i even don’t think that other company would consider me for a better position if i add my disgraceful job in my resume.
    Now, what I see in myself after reading your comments is positivity. your encouraged words by saying ” you’ll get through this” making me more energetic and optimistic about my future, Because once i read somewhere ” your hard working never gone wasted”, and on the other hand, as you said ” WHEN”.This job is detrimental for my personality, knackering me internally and psychologically because all the time I compare myself with others whom i was studied with, or with junior in university or with those who I thought weren’t good in studies, they are today excelled in every field of life. They are married now, well settled, earning good money, enjoying and touring all over the world, having managerial positions.I never ever thought i’d be going through such phase of life. If this experience i’m getting would’ve made me stronger , i’d have never complained about my job and my fate with you.
    Now, Prayers and positivity can change my fate..I have to keep my positivity above my fear of future ” & not to think what gonna happen with me” which is quiet difficult, Who knows, Tomorrow could be my day. Now , the battle has been started between me & the question ” when I’ll get through this” is very dangerous. This battle can be won if i’m psychologically rehabilitated. Need your constant prayers

    Cheers & tears :'(

  • Where you wrote: “…I’ll feel myself an utter failure until i find a through and garner another better job.”

    I have a feeling this might be where your lesson lies. If your self-worth is dependent on your job, then it could easily be shaken throughout your life. And it may even taint the experience of having a job you love when that day finally comes.

    But what if when that day comes you already did a lot of work developing your self-worth, independent of your career? What if you are able to approach that phase of your life feeling you are already a successful person, regardless of your professional success? I have a feeling that would make the success all the more gratifying because you’d be coming to it from a place of wholeness and peace with who you are.

    That’s the thing about all the people you’re comparing yourself to: it’s not a guarantee that their success is actually leading to increased happiness. If they haven’t done any internal work, odds are, it’s not.

    That’s something I’ve always appreciated about being a late bloomer in every regard: I had time to do some deep inner work, which meant I didn’t get the work or the relationship and then have to ask myself: “Why do I still feel so empty and unhappy?”

    I hope the same turns out to be true for you!

    Lori

  • Icreative Shah M

    Lori,
    Thanks a bunch. you’re now understanding me more now.

  • You’re most welcome!

  • Icreative Shah M

    high five friend.. need your prayers..
    cheers

    if ever you need my help , i’ll be there with you

  • Alex Writer

    You’ll never be effective if you’re convinced tomorrow needs to be better than today because this belief stems from resistance to the present—and the present is where your power lies.

    Usually, when you’ve read “the best thing you could’ve read today”,that gives you the best feeling, that writing is a solution for a mistake you’ve been doing many, many times. Therefore, to experience the best feeling, be grateful for your “best mistakes”, and never give up because you’ll find the best solution.

    I felt purposeless most of the time.
    But, your post made me understand/believe/taught me, this:
    If today i want to workout, I better give my best like there’s no tomorrow.
    If tomorrow i don’t feel or want to workout, that’s fine. Instead, I just do what i feel i want to do. (my intuition, not the mind, or else i would be just sitting on the sofa).
    IF, few days later my intuition would tell me something like “It was so cool to workout back then. I want to do it, again”. I better start doing it again. But, always giving my best.

    Do i understand the message of that paragraph, right? 🙂

  • HT MTbegs

    Hi Lori,
    I can’t thank you enough for this truly amazing post. It’s truly life-changing. I’ve just gratuated form high school to enter my first year in University. Being quite young, I always feel scared and so uncertain of what the future may have in store for me. Thank to your story, now I feel less scared, even a bit excited to try as many new things I want to do knowing that there’s gonna be new opportunies open up in any decison that I make.
    Again, Thank you so much. It really does help me a lot!

  • Hi Alex,

    Here’s what I meant by that:

    Oftentimes, we focus on what we accomplish in the future because we think the present isn’t good enough – and we want to change that by creating a better reality down the line. This causes us to see today as a means to an end, and if think we’re not getting closer to where we want to be, we may even feel today was wasted.

    But if we can consider that there’s nothing wrong with who we are, and that there’s actually value in being right where we are, we’ll be better able to accept and make the best of the present – which will likely go a long way in creating the life we visualize.

    Does that make sense?

    Lori

  • You’re most welcome, and thank you for leaving this comment. I’m thrilled to know that sharing my experience helped you!

  • jban

    Thank you Lori. Been having so much anxiety for the past few months and this article is helping me piece things back together.

  • You’re most welcome. =)

  • Shelly

    This is EXACTLY how I feel!!

  • Lea

    How did you afford to travel Europe when you have no job? I’m always curious about this, because how is it possible that you’re struggling so badly when you have the means to do things? I can’t imagine being able to leave my life or country with nothing. I can’t even go out for coffee with friends unless someone pays for me. Did you hitchhike? Did your parents pay for it? All this “living life doing what you want and not worrying about should” is all well and good for someone of means. What about someone who was pulled out of high school by an abusive parent, has had to work minimum wage for almost 10 years just to give it all away to bills aaa so the government, suffering daily from the effects of 15 years of abuse from said parent? How will changing my perspective help me? What are my options as someone who will quite literally be living in the street if I quit my job?

  • Jo Willowberry

    I desperately needed to read this today. I’ve been from bad job to bad job for the past six years, with no sense of direction and nothing leading me to a bigger and better prospect. My family is disappointed in me and I’ve been so upset with myself too. Today, my current “nothing job” threatened to fire me, and I felt like that was the final straw with my streak of failures. Reading this post I found myself in tears. I needed to hear these things and I’m so thankful that I could read this right when I needed it most. Although I still feel emotionally battered, keeping this wonderful advice in mind has given me the strength to stand up again in the face of the storm and keep going–even if I can’t see the destination yet.

    Maybe someday I’ll figure out how to follow my passion for writing and make it work for my own life. Until then, I will remember that my purpose in this moment is to do what I’m doing and not hate myself for being unsure of where to go next.

    Thank you.

  • DS

    “it’s not about what you have to do. It’s about what you want to do.”

    What if I don’t know what I want to do? What if what I want is fantasy and real life is a harsh place with no place for magic and divine interventions and other fairy tales?

    I am X years old, and now do I have to rewind my life and start over? What do I do with my family who need my financial and other support, will they sit and watch how I become a boy again while I search for purpose of my life?

    “There’s no set timeframe for doing anything.”

    But there is. With time, my learning abilities diminish, if I get children soon I will have less free time, I may get sick or just die any moment.

  • Hi DS,

    I understand what you mean about obligations and free time – and I know how tough it can be to turn off your obsessive, fearful thoughts.

    What I meant is that there’s no set timeframe for when we’re supposed to do things. Of course, at different ages we’ll need to approach things differently, but as long as we’re alive, we have options.

    I speak from experience when I say that minimizing thoughts can be incredibly helpful. Do you meditate? It’s the best way I know to clear your head so you can focus on the present and stop worrying so much about the future.

    Lori

  • Hi Jo,

    I’m so sorry to hear what happened with your job, and the stress you’ve been feeling around your work. You’re absolutely right – this is your purpose for now, and there’s no need to feel bad about yourself for being right where you are!

    I hope you had a nice weekend. =)

    Lori

  • Toni Chung

    Um so I’m only 14 and I’m not sure when you had these feelings of uncertainty and the like, but these day I feel like I’m not doing enough. When I spend a day doing nothing I feel anxious. When I tell people this I know what they’ll say: “You still have a lot of time.” Even knowing that I’m anxious all the time. I feel like I’m juggling so many things. And then there’s the social aspect that nags at me all the time. I think I have social anxiety and I avoid so many situations because I embarrass myself so easily.

    I think this article brought me some comfort. At the very least I know that this feeling is normal, though it may be premature. So,Thanks.

  • This feeling is indeed normal, Toni! When I was in high school, it was predicted in my class prophecy (in the yearbook) that I’d one day write, produce, and star in a one-woman show about my life called stress. I always pushed myself to do and be more, and yet always felt I wasn’t doing enough. I’ve also struggled with social anxiety, so I know how debilitating that can be as well.

    You mentioned you feel like you’re juggling a lot. Is there anything you could scale back on so that you have less pressure and more time and space to simply be?

  • DS

    Lori, thanks for the reply and keeping the discussion to an old post alive.

    I cannot find a good resource in real life or online on meditation.
    They mix in a lot of seemingly irrelevant info, or forget to explain basics.

    Can you recommend anything?

  • You’re most welcome! A friend of mine runs a program called One Mind Live – weekly global mediation. They’ve gotten wonderful feedback, so you may want to check that out:

    http://onemindlive.com

  • hu_wen

    You can’t “change direction at any time.” Student loans are non-dischargeable, surviving costs money, and so does changing direction.

  • Hi there. I actually have changed directions several times with students loans. It hasn’t always been easy, but it is possible!

  • Chinna

    Hi, This is the interesting topic somehow i can relate to my self. Coming to myself even if I’m interesting in doing my job because of apathy i cannot able to do it. I’m doing the things in workplace because of fear at last minutes instead of putting my real interest( reason for fear might be i may lose job if i didn’t done well, my boss may be angry on me, it will be escalated if i didn’t done well or it will be a lose to my company if i didn’t done well). How to come out of this. Help me to do the things as work place with my own interest instead of fear. Thanks/Chinna

  • Maria

    This is so me, right here, right this very minute. I feel this constant turmoil inside me that I’m not doing what I “should” be doing. This article is my soul speaking to me.

  • Wendy Jone

    Gotta make one comment, Icreatuve Shah M–when you’re looking at all those you studied with who now have perfect lives…

    Don’t compare your inside with someone else’s outside.Your successful classmates… do you know what pain they feel? You don’t. People put a lot of effort into projecting a successful image. You don’t know what those same people cry over in the middle of the night, what they’re afraid someone else will discover. What are they hiding from YOU? You Don’t Know. But I can guarantee they have their self doubts, fears and disappointments.

    Suggestion: You are more than your job. You know you are an intelligent and skilled human being–hence your frustration. But since you haven’t found that job yet, volunteer at a nonprofit–anywhere, even 1 hour a week. You will find people who are grateful for your presence and your help, and who envy YOU. It can be very empowering. And community service is a very positive addition to your resume. 🙂

    I’m struggling with my own confusion and the self-applied label of a “wasted life”. But I’ve noticed that every time I let that go for a while and do something for someone else–like just volunteering to help with coffee service at a my local Unitarian Universalist organization–I walk out feeling connected, and feeling much, much better about … me.

  • Sian

    Unfortunately I am in the same boat and unfortunately not everyone can just “do things in their own time” when there’s pressure to earn money and pay bills. It sounds as though you may have been a teenager supported by your parents and able to take your time. Lucky you

  • Hi Sian,

    I was referring to finding a path that feels meaningful – not earning money. Unfortunately, I did not live at home at this time; I was living alone 200 miles from my family, supporting myself with a part-time telemarketing job. (I actually lived in a 7’x7′ dorm style room, because that’s all I could afford.)

    It’s natural to feel pressure when we have responsibilities, but pressure can make it awfully difficult to discover what we personally find meaningful and engaging. To do that, we need to let go and live in the moment so we’re open to the process of self-discovery, and unfortunately, that takes time. I know it can be frustrating – and it’s a lot easier to say this in retrospect than it is to live in that experience! I’m sorry you have to feel this pressure.

    Lori

  • otterhino

    I just want to say how grateful I am for this article. I will certainly read it again and again. Thank you.

  • You’re most welcome. =)

  • Chris Valderrama

    I always become anxious when I have free time, as weird as that sounds. When I have a whole day to myself or a few hours to kill I always think of a dozen different things that I can do, but I’m always afraid to commit to any single task because then I’ll feel like I should be doing something else. I could be cleaning my car but I’ll think, “Im wasting time, I should be filing my mail.” Or I’ll be working out but think, “Im wasting my day, I should be relaxing on a hike or hanging out with friends.” Doesn’t matter what, I always feel like Im wasting time, so ironically I waste my entire day not doing a single thing. At work Im focused because I obviously have specific tasks to carry out, but it’s during my free time that I’m lost. Any suggestions?????

  • Hi Chris ~ Perhaps it would help to start your day by setting an intention. Then, so long as you’re doing something that aligns with your intention, you’ll know you’re not wasting time, but rather, doing exactly what you want to be doing. I think that’s what it comes down to, really – getting into a place where you can let go, stop “shoulding” all over yourself, and be in the moment. I hope this helps a little!

  • Jwali See

    I read this article at the right time. Thanks Lori!! 😀

  • You’re most welcome! =)

  • Narissa Kelly-Asplen

    Thank you for this great post!!!

  • You’re most welcome!

  • The Blo0P

    Hi, are you still there?? what i’m about to tell you is a very long story, and i’m really rock bottom, i think i’m really close to end my own life. My name is Elkas, i lived in Indonesia, a shitty country where racism is still a thing. My life is really fucked up, i graduated from highschool in 2012, and still don’t have a job, i don’t wanna go college because i hate being order to do this and that by the teacher (i have bad experience with it and it become a nightmare that always haunt and make me feel i’m weak and useless). The same thing i was once do interview for a job and when the interviewer asked me many question it somehow reminds me of that nightmare, and in the end they reject me. I’m done looking for a job, the looks in that interviewer eyes when he talk to me it feels like he was saying i’m useless. So for years i lock myself in my room and play PC all day 24 hours, i never go or hang out, all my friends have a job and a good career, i once asked few of them if they can help and find me a job, but they only said “OK i look into it if i can”, and then there is no word from them it’s been years, now i realize they don’t wanna help, i think they want me to suffer (can’t be help at this point my brain and soul feels like being consume by darkness, i always thing bad of something). I feel like i’m at the end of my life, my PC has been the only friends that always with me, listen to me, and now after like 10 years being with me, it starting to die. At febuary, the graphics card dead and i’m doing my best to safe to buy a new one, and then at april, my headset died, and then now recently one of 4 of my hard disk died, i feel like god is not fair, the drive that died is full of things and memories i’ve been build for years. I have a strong feeling that one by one my PC component will die and eventually it will die permanently, if that happen i will end my life. I never even do bad things to other, why god punish me like this??? all i did was stay in my room with my PC, i never do bad things to other people why god punish me?? i feels like no matter what i do it’s just inevitable, no matter what path i choose it’s always end with dead end. My mother relatives offer me a job but it was on some island, there i can work a game center the owner is my cousin, but i’m simply afraid of changes, i don’t wanna move, i want to stay here forever with my father and mother, i love them so much.
    I’m stuck, i always try to think , everything gonna be okay, don’t stress yourself by thinking too much just let the time flow and follow it. But i just can’t bear it anymore my PC is dying, and when i does so is my life. Sometimes if i feel down my PC is always the one that cheer me up and gave me hope and strenght to keep going. But now that source of hope is slowly dying. And this is where things really rip me apart, my own brain sometimes told me that i need to do something, get a job, get a wife, time flow fast without you feel it you will be a 60 years old , this feelings of responsibility always haunt me and makes me goes crazy and give me full despair, this always makes me search for a painless way to die in google, sometimes if i feel really depressed that i can’t even think straight i always browse for a painless way to suicide. I am without purpose … without dream, the only thing i ever wanted was to see my father, my mother , and my 2 big sister lived happy, i always pray and ask god to give my useless life and add them to theirs so they can lived longer. I am really ugly all girl on my class always told me that. It gradually become a nightmare for me, for like 15 years i always avoid looking into mirror, because i know and i admit i’m beyond ugly. I don’t want a girlfriend i’m afraid i can’t make her happy , provide food and protection and gave them a good looking kids. All i ever wanted is have a good gaming PC, i don’t know if that can be consider as dream. But i simply can’t make money, it’s weird i heard when people desperate they will do anything to get what they wanted, even robbed a bank or stealing, but i can’t, i always wonder why after all of this i can’t become bad. This burden gets heavier each passing day, the feeling of being haunted by responsibility, …. it’s just too much for me. After reading this post, i feel like throwing all things that stuck in my heart here, because i don’t want to talk to my parents, i don’t want to give them more problem by thingking more about me. If you can provide me a painless way to die i will be forever in your debt.

  • Kay

    Hi Lori,

    Thank you for the write up. I have a question though… How do you marry allowing oneself to evolve with time whilst finding oneself adm going with one’s heart vs getting by on a daily basis. If I allowed myself to just ‘be’ and try things that come naturally to me then where does thinking about putting food on the table come into play…not sure if I am making sense.

    Like someone said they were going to travel and take some time out ….surely you need to be in a place where you can afford it in order to do these things or go on retreats etc

    I’m not sure if I’m making sense but if you do understand me I would be grateful for some insight on how to make sure I’m not left homeless/penniless and at the same taking my time with life and not feel I’m wasting whilst evolving…

  • Hi there,

    So sorry – I somehow missed this before. And I’m also so sorry to hear about everything you’re going through. I can understand why you feel stuck and overwhelmed. Those first years after graduating can be feel so scary and confusing, especially if you choose not to go to college. I’m very concerned about what you wrote about considering ending your life. Before I write anything else, I need to ask: Are you still having those feelings now?

    Lori

  • You’re most welcome! I think the key is accepting that we all need to do something to pay the bills while simultaneously exploring options for more fulfilling work in our downtime. That might be a 9-5, it might be a combination of freelance gigs. Whatever it is, we can trust that it won’t be forever, so long as we’re in the process of self-discovery, and willing to work toward what we want when we discover it. Does that make sense?

  • LilyFlower

    I have this feeling of not belonging and feeling no certainty of my future. I’m 22 years old, my parents are going through a divorce and for all these years they have wrecked me and my brother’s lives. As early as my memories go I remember them fighting, hurling horrible insults at each other. Not a week went by that they didn’t fight and they never divorced either despite me and my brother’s urging. Last year was when everything hit catastrophic. In the summer, they had one of their biggest fights and my father left the house to his hometown. I don’t understand, me and my brother treated him gently during this even though he kept talking about “debts” and not leaving us any money, telling us our mother would look after us and he’d pay us back in the future months.

    I never even talked about my incoming college year and the expenses it would require. I mean, he’s my father, he would take care of it, right?

    No. A month before the beginning of the term he called us. The only thing he did was yelling about how he had no money, and yelling at my mother in my ear to get away because she was also listening to what he said. It seemed he only cared about fighting her still.

    I felt crushed. I cried so much that evening that I don’t remember being like that for more than a year. I had already lost a year because in my first year, my family had moved to the city of the university with me to “help make things easier”. But after a year, the rent was too high and we had to go back to our home. Our finance was in ruins, I also discovered I had a minor herniated disc in my back. My phone had also stopped functioning and we couldn’t afford another one. With all these problems on top of each other, I lost a year. My friends are all in the 2nd grade now, while I took a year off. I still regret it and think things could have went differently, I could have done something.

    Anyway, fast forward to now. I was determined to skip this year too. How could I go to school like this? Even though my mother had her old age pension (my parents are both retired teachers) she still could not pay my college dues. For more than a year most of her money was going to paying off debts, and she still did not get her full payment. She is also horrible at managing money, she buys unnecessary things by instalments saying “they don’t cost that much”. My mother and father have caused each other immense mental damage by not divorcing and drove each other crazy over 20 years. You would not believe how unnatural they act most of the time but I won’t go into it. It’s a wonder me and my brother can still want to act normally, not getting into any bad habits.

    So I did though. Even though I protested violently at first saying it would not work, she convinced me to attend school. Now might be the time to talk about my insecurities as well. I have struggled with social anxiety since my teenage years. I have seen counselors and they have helped but I still am uncomfortable around strangers. I am insecure about my appearance and afraid of being judged. So, juggling with all these issues it was not possible for me to look for a part-time job this year. My school also has attendance rules so I could not skip classes to work in a job that required time out of my classes. Maybe that’s what I told myself because the truth is I am afraid.

    I know I need to work in a part-time job to sustain myself through college otherwise my self-confidence will keep taking hits. I am taking student loans but it’s still a challenge managing my money. When I have to pay for entertainment or “luxury” I feel very guilty, thinking it could be spent for something else. But as I said, the truth is I am afraid. Most reliable part-time jobs require you to be social. They have requirements up on their advertisements saying they want “self-confident, with high social skills, cheerful and spirited” personnel. None of which fit me, at least doing the job they want me to do. Here is where my insecurities kick in.

    I hate the corporate jobs. I don’t want to be the robot of some corporation, smiling and acting like a robot for strangers coming to buy clothing or eat food. They seem like soul-crushing jobs for me, even if they are part-time. I don’t understand why jobs in our time and world are so limited. I would love to work but in a creative job. You might suggest writing jobs. I have applied for them and got no reply, and they seem to be not paying well too. There just seems like no job I will apply “with confidence” and if there is, I probably will hate my time and spiral into self-destructive habits because I will hate the job even if I am doing it to pay my way through college. The bottom line is, I am afraid of myself. As you can see, I am very insecure. I hate who I may become and I even don’t know who I am sometimes.

    I did make it this year though, with none of my lessons falling below good grades and passing them all with success. But I won’t forget the first few months. When I could eat no lunch, lost so much weight my pants didn’t fit and I still had to wear them to school because I couldn’t buy any new ones. I had to wear the same 3 sweaters for 3 months. I planned my money around paying for transport for college and nothing much else. Shutting myself inside the hostel studying and not doing any kind of hobbies. I used to love playing video games but I didn’t and I couldn’t anyway, while feeling the way I felt. I made it through though. Now I have to think of the future. I hate how weak I felt and looked and the people who noticed me that way because I couldn’t manage ordinary conversations other than a few close people in and out of college. They are imprinted on my memory and still I feel pain when I recall them. Combined with my sensitive personality I feel like I might never be over it.

    I tell myself I haven’t had it that bad and to be grateful, but it causes only guilt. I need to accept what happened, not blame myself and move on. I will finish college despite my parents’ irresponsibility and hopefully find a job that I will love doing.

    So, if I had to ask a question to you lovely people it would be this. How? I know this self-pity won’t get me anywhere as all around people do work while going to college to earn enough money for themselves. But am I too weak for thinking the way I do, or too proud? I do want to work but my stubbornness will immediately take me off the course. They want perfect “self-confident” robots who will do ordinary things for them. How can people work in jobs like this? How can I?

  • Souzy LeylaAmira

    Hey there, Lea. It´s sad that nobody bothered to answer you. Those are valid questions. Yup, not everything is in our hands. However, I have seen that anxiety makes it even more unlikely for me to come to any satisfying conclusion regarding my life. You live in real-world-circumstances. You can´t just quit your job and travel. That is called privilege. However, do you think this article could give you anything valuable you could apply to your current situation?

  • Souzy LeylaAmira

    Hey there, Lori, and you nailed it. Much of my issues with “not getting things done” and procrastination (so much that I dropped out of college, I know, I know…) stem from this. I even had a therapist last year who told me that was my problem (“You think you have to know everything for sure- but life isn´t like that”). That paralyzed me and made me unable to do anything. However, I´m still figuring out what that means to me. Let´s also not forget that sometimes, there are very real, valid questions, like not wanting to waster your parent´s money, wanting to be independent, feeling not good enough. We can´t erase those valid questions and concerns. But probably we can stop paralyzing and punishing ourselves for not being the ideal person we wanted to be. We are worse parents for ourselves than our parents could ever be. Peace.

  • Souzy LeylaAmira

    That is exactly why I failed in college. I never commited to anything, because I was afraid of making mistakes. Gosh, could hit myself for that stupid habit.

  • Souzy LeylaAmira

    Haha, I feel you. That´s why I don´t travel alone 🙂 I need a purpose, or a goal, like for example a “business trip” or something like that.

  • Souzy LeylaAmira

    I had the same problem it happens when youre to anxious and never sure that what you do is right. I can´t give you any advice on this since I have the same problem. I don´t know when was the last time I was able to study calmly, collected and with full concentration. That´s just awful.

  • Souzy LeylaAmira

    Hey there, Jon. Not everything can be solved by us personally, that is true. Your situation truly sucks. However, some of us don´t even see the options they would have because they are too anxious. That may be the issue she wrote about here. But nobody can deny that you face a dilemma. However, if you see any way out, please take it, and don´t be too anxious. There is reasonable anxiety, and then there is this general anxiety about anything which keeps us stuck. Don´t listen to the secon one. Peace.

  • Tenshinhan23

    One very helpful thing is to take a break from that paralyzing situation and relax completely, even for just 1 week.

    The insane thing is that being in high pressure mindset wont help you move forward, and you can stay paralyzed like this for years.

    Get into an environment where you are relaxed and have no constraints. I know not everyone has this luxury, but if you do just take advantage of it.

    Then in that environment your mind will be much more balanced and relaxed to think about the future.

  • Angeles

    Found absolute consolation upon reading this.Thank you!

  • Neha Dureja

    It is very well written. it calmed my nerves. Thank you for this great article.

  • You’re most welcome. I’m glad this was helpful to you!

  • divya Mehta

    Hi Lori,
    I came across this article today, because today was completly difficult day for me. My eyes are filled with tears to know , am not alone who feels so guilty of not having any purpose in life … but really struggling hard to understand and know what can make there life worth.
    I have been working for the past 8 years and am 30 years old. Whenever i look back in my past , i realized i never make any choice i just went with the flow of life and here i am externally if you see am doing really good … job, husband , friends but internally am always crying , frustrated of having no purpose … I am always scared and feel restless of ending my life just like that.
    Today it was unbearable , i was so restless in my office , i couldn’t concentrate , i just want to quit everything and go somewhere where i can find answer to my question. I am actually fed up of this feeling of lost , i want some answers and i cant bear it anymore.
    I am kind of person for whom money external happiness doesnt matter , but i feel am actually wasting my time , i feel exactly the way you felt i feel like a failure who is so trapped in so called this comfortable life that i cannot carry my ass out of it.
    I am overwhelmed with this feeling of guilt. I feel like how many more years do i need to understand myself and get started with something which gives me meaning in life. I also feel even if i get to know what do i want , will i have guts to start doing it… i couldnt sleep , i couldnt concentrate … am just angry, frustrated , feel like a loser. My heart is so heavy writing this comment right now. But am just glad i found this website atleast i can pour my feeling here.

  • Pavan Darkprince

    what explained above is exactly what i am going through now.Thanks for the article Lori .Now i feel relaxed and started appreciating current moment,which suddenly feeling amazing .trusting my instincts and moving forward.Thx again

  • You’re most welcome, Pavan. =)

  • Vivian

    Um, are you inside my head? I needed to read this tonight. This entire piece is exactly what I’m going through. Thank you.

  • You’re most welcome. =)

  • Hi Divya,

    My apologies for my slow response! You are definitely not alone. I think a lot of people feel exactly how you feel and struggle with these same things. It’s not easy to create a sense of purpose in life, and it’s complicated by all the messages others send us about what (they think) we should be doing.

    You are not a failure or a loser. You’re just finding your way, and that takes time. In fact, I would argue we’ll all constantly finding our way, as we’re always learning, growing, evolving, and discovering new ideas about who we are, what matters to us, and what will feel fulfilling and meaningful at different stages in our lives.

    It might help to share more in the community forums, so you can connect with other readers who can relate, who can offer insight, advice, and support. If that interests you, you can join here:

    http://tinybuddha.com/register

    I hope this helps a little. You are in my thoughts!

    Lori

  • Riya Chaudhary

    Hi Lori! The article is so enriching, as I was reading each line I was getting answers to each of my worries. It made me realise that I’m not the only one going through this. Currently, I’m feeling like I’m not at a place I want to be at and because of that I won’t be able to do any good with myself. I feel stressed, lonely despite people I love being around me. Thoughts like people are and will be happier and more successful than me are heartbreaking. All I wanted was someone to tell me that I’m not a garbage and someday or the other I’ll do better. I need to be happy in my present and that’s exactly what you said. Thank you.

  • You are not the only one, and you are definitely not garbage! You’re most welcome. 🙂

  • richard perrin

    Would be lovely to hear what happened Bellie. Hope everything turned out amazing for you

  • Llehs

    Hi Lori,
    I just currently turned 20 two months ago. This entire article brought a tear of sadness to my eyes because of how immensely true and stressful it is. I just want to say, thank you deeply for writing this. It really, really helped me and I can not be thankful enough. Thank you, Lori. Peace be with you, always.

  • Hi there,

    I’m so sorry for my slow response. I somehow missed this before. You’re most welcome. I’m glad this was helpful to you. =)

    Lori

  • Brian

    Lori
    I’m 54 and lost my job, just after our youngest child left home to go and live her life.
    Your article has really helped me at a time when I feel that I have no value on a variety of levels. I know logically that I do have worth and that there can be a happy future for me, but I see now that my self worth was so dependent upon my paycheck and it has been a bit of a shock to realize this now. It is so hard to open up my mind and see all the possibilities because I feel the pressure of having that steady income. I don’t know that I could even find a job at this time making the money I was making before and even if I could, I know I would just be taking the safe way out and it terrifies me that I would be knowingly tying my self worth to a paycheck once again. My mind says I’m being foolish, that at my age I should just find work with insurance and hope I can pay the bills with the pay. My heart says I am at a crossroads, perhaps the most important of my life, and if I don’t expand my vision of who I can be and look inside to find out who I truly am and what my purpose(s) may be, then I will die so full of regret and I can’t bear the idea that those thoughts might be my last. It feels good to just get this out so I thank you for indulging me here. I will continue to return to your article to keep my mind open and mindful.

  • Hi Brian,

    I’m so sorry to hear about your job. I can definitely understand the instinct to take the safe route. I’ve struggled with that myself. You’re most welcome. I’m glad this helped a little. =)

    Lori

  • Ricky

    Awesome read! This is exactly what i’ve been needing to hear. I can’t thank you enough.

  • You’re most welcome!

  • Jake

    This article is great, but I have a really hard time agreeing with it when it comes to my situation. I’m currently in a state of absolute wastefulness, doing absolutely nothing productive with my life. I have literally no friends, I never bother to leave my house, and I spend all my time online.

    The scary thing, though, is that besides a fruitless desire to do more, I really am quite adusted to my current lifestyle. I want more out of my life. I want to travel, learn a few languages, learn an instrument, go hiking, love… My current lifestyle enables itself, though. It’s very hard to get out of a lifestyle of absolute slothfulness, and part of me doesn’t even want to.

  • Brian

    Hey Lori
    Well it’s been 2 months and I have returned to your article many times for inspiration. I have been practicing being mindful (I finally realize what they mean when they say you have 2 minds) and my “observing mind” is getting better and better at keeping my “thinking mind” in line. I have been exercising regularly and have taken up yoga, and I am actually getting some pretty steady work as a freelance writer. I can’t thank you enough for what you do here at tiny buddha and I want you to know that your work here does help people and I am proof of that. I wish you all the best.
    Brian

  • Hi Brian,

    Congrats on the freelance writing work and all these positive changes! You’re most welcome, and thank you so much for the update and the kind words. =)

    Lori

  • Benito Rojas

    This is a very accurate and eloquently described answer for those of us fighting feelings of preassure and anxiety. Thanks a lot.

  • You’re most welcome!

  • Michael

    Thank You so much to the writer of this Article…I’ve really been feeling lost , I’ve bothered , searched , and this article has been the best so far,..so precise…love ya

  • You’re most welcome, Michael! I’m glad this helped.

  • Heather

    This article really hit me as finally I know I’m not the only one to feel this way! I’ve had office jobs all my life (29 today) and I cant stand it, I find it all so boring and just feel like I’m wasting my life. I want to be a fire fighter but I then worry that I’m now too old to do it?? I do suffer with anxiety and the more I age the more I panic. I feel like I’m suffocating in my own thoughts sometimes.

  • Hi Heather ~ You’re definitely not the only one! I don’t know much about being a firefighter, but what an exciting dream! I doubt you’re too old. You’re not even 30 yet! Have you ever looked into taking the first step?

  • Hannah

    This was so helpful, Lori! I needed to read this right now. As a recent college grad, these are exactly some of the feelings I’m experiencing. I’ve always had trouble focusing on the present and using my time productively instead of wishing that things will just happen on their own. I hope to get to that point where I can be comfortable with doing my best and living contently, instead of always worrying about what I SHOULD be doing.

  • I’m glad this helped, Hannah! It can be so tough to focus on the moment, especially right out of college when you’re trying to find your place in the world. Meditation helps a great deal. I feel far more present and peaceful when I start my day with silence and stillness.

  • One of the best motivational texts I have ever read on the internet. Thanks a lot for sharing these thoughts!

  • You’re most welcome! =)

  • I feel you but at some point you’re going to want to and then you have to force yourself that +1% to get up and start your journey. Slowly is fine but remember to get started (in whatever way) to go towards what you really want, if you want it.
    But maybe that part of you that is fine with being lazy and doing nothing has already seen quite enough of the world and had enough friends to know what it all feels like, so that now you’re just ready to settle for a comfortable chill life. And there’s absolutely nothing bad about that. People say travel and going out everyday is amazing and all that, but someday it’s just not for you anymore, and if you travel (or do other things) excessively it loses its former excitement and it becomes a form of routine (laziness in a way because you do the same thing over and over). So take your time to think this through and when that motivation to go comes, push it over that edge 🙂

  • What if you try to just let those anxious thoughts persist for a while but let them go after? So if you think you should study another book, you make a note (mentally or a real note) to study that other book but then try to concentrate on the book. If other thoughts come to your mind that distract you, try to stay focused but if you can’t, think them through and if you have to, make a note. Then let them go. But most thoughts probably just want to be thought through. After some time you should be able to let go of unnecessary stress.

    This is actually the basic meditation technique but I think it will work for anything where you need to focus 100%. Maybe you should try to meditate, too, it will calm you more in daily life too.

    I hope you’ll feel better.

    PS. I never had this problem because I always decided to study when I am ready and mentally prepared for it so don’t push yourself too hard when you really can’t do it. Try to find a good time to study but care about your mental well-being first 🙂

  • Sara

    Thank you for this. This is exactly what I’m going through. I appreciate this article so, so much and having a feeling I’ll be reading it again and again.

  • You’re most welcome. =)

  • Tvan

    Thank you for this. I’ve been in this place for four years – wondering what the hell im supposed to be doing
    .

  • You’re most welcome!

  • Ayal Avisar

    Hi Lori, thanks for the article!
    I found it on google while searching a similar situation to mine. I have a job which is fine for me right now. Besides it, I have other passions/hobbies. Lately, in order to take them to the next step, I drew a table with specific steps in each goal, so I’ll know exactly what to do in that each specific hobby. I noticed that on my spare time, unlike my plan, those hobbies became a chore, and stopped being fun, so instead of moving forward and developing them, I neglect them. It’s very frustrating, and makes me feel useless since these are my true passions. How can I take them forward, If If they make me procrastinate?

  • You’re most welcome! Regarding your passions, could you change the action steps or somehow make them more fun so that you enjoy the time you devote to them? I know I’m more apt to do something I believe I’ll enjoy then something I see as an obligation.

  • disqus_EreJEHnT1r

    Thank you. I needed this so much.

  • You’re most welcome. =)

  • Ayal Avisar

    Thanks for replying 🙂 I agree. If they’ll be associated with fun again they’ll be easier to do. I believe I can make them more fun, but I have no Idea how ? :/

  • You’re welcome! For me, it helps to switch up my workspace (by the pool, on the beach), work for shorter periods of time, and break up my work with physical activity. I’m a lot happier when I do those things, as opposed to what I used to – chain myself to my computer, in one indoor location, for way too long. Of course, a lot of this depends on what specifically you’re doing – but experiment and you’ll find what works for you!

  • Shivapriya Sivaraman

    Hi Lori,
    Just came across this place when I googled ‘purposeless life’ in a very dejected frame of mind. Thank you so much for the powerful insight. I still do feel the tug of the familiar anxiety but I am trying to stay with your words. They make a lot of sense and instinctively I know that if I can stay in the moment and make that matter, it will chalk up to a life well-lived. Thank you, again.
    Shivapriya

  • You’re most welcome! The anxiety will come back from time to time, but each time is an opportunity to practice coming into the moment.

  • Francesca Sinéad Coscia

    I SO needed to read this. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • You’re most welcome. =)