A common question asked of kids is “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Society places an importance on a person’s purpose in the world way before they are ready to perform it. When meeting someone for the first time, a common question is “So, what do you do?” Answering with “I get up at 7 am and grab a coffee” is not what they are after. So when you are feeling lost with your life, it can feel like you don’t belong in the world.
When I was in primary school I wanted to be a bus driver. Finishing high school I wanted to be a music teacher. When I left university after six months of study, I wanted to have a career in IT. Over the first 20 years of my life I had changed course a number of times and still hadn’t really started to live. I ended up working as an administration and finance officer. Not much of a link to driving a bus. Did I feel lost? Not at all.
Add another 17 years and I’ve been working in IT for a number of years and progressed into a management position. “That’s great! You’ve achieved what you set out to do!” you may be thinking. Yes, and yet I feel more lost than ever before.
Despite how it looks I never really had a plan on where I would go. I followed the opportunities that felt right at the time and have worked hard to succeed. This is what you are taught to do when you are young. No one tells you that when you work hard and you succeed that you at some point you hit a wall, or will end up with a mortgage, or a family. There is no mention of the other responsibilities and dreams that don’t revolve around what you do for a living. So we think we’re alone and not achieving unlike everyone else who must be doing better.
You are not alone despite how it feels.
Why is it that people feel like their situation is unique to them? Think about how often you speak to others about the issues you are having. When did you last bring up you were feeling lost or like a fish out of water? Has your friend or relative recently come to you to talk about not knowing where they belong in the world? If you answer yes then you are in the minority. People talk about their sucesses and how well they are going with things. No one likes a sour puss. People don’t want to hear the troubles you have. Well that’s what we are told.
I have found that talking about how I feel actually helps to form it into a real concept that can be challenged, broken apart, examined and put back together again. Try it with a trusted friend or your partner. Bring it up with your dog or cat or fish. At least you know they won’t give you bad advice. It makes it real and it gives you a chance to think on it.
Does it mean you’ll feel less lost? No. It does mean you can stop feeling alone and perhaps get advise from others who are feeling exactly the same as you.
Are you feeling lost? Leave a comment with how you have dealt with it so that others can take comfort in not being alone.