an ode to the existential crisis

To say that the past few years have included an ongoing existential crisis would be an understatement. I’m talking full-on emotional breakdowns. Honestly feeling like I’m lost and worthless, occasional thoughts of wondering what the point of it all is.

Those are scary thoughts. They’re jarring to realize their presence, taking form and piquing curiosity. Really, if I cannot figure out and handle this society I live in, then what the heck am I doing?

I know I cannot be the only one in this state of seemingly perpetual confusion. You truly feel like you’re not meant for this world. That the way society works, the path you’re supposed to take, wants to eat you alive.

This feeling drains your spirit. Even if you aspire toward these really creative ideas, based off what we’re told and all the financial numbers we see, it doesn’t add up. If you don’t, in some capacity, relent to the capitalist machine and make all the sacrifices, then you’ll never amount to anything.

There’s probably more of us nonconformist types than we realize. Most have already given up what really enriches their spirits to simply survive. Get by. Pay your rent and bills. Go to the office every day. Repeat the routine indefinitely.

I write this not only as a personal release of all the pent-up anxieties terrorizing me this past year. I also write this as an olive branch to you. If you’ve locked in all the same fears as me, not wanting to burst for the millionth time and annoy your loved ones with the same spiel, then this is for you. When the world wasn’t made for you, that means you must build it yourself. Even amidst the existential crisis.

My own crisis.

Here’s my backstory. Inevitably, I resort to self-pity and self-loathing when I reflect. The regrets of not being someone else with a less troubled past in all aspects. But who would I be? Who would anyone of us be?

Due to a variety of reasons, mental health-related and otherwise, I’ve struggled to feel connected to any paid job I’ve done. You have the service jobs in high school, of course, but even beyond that, every experience I’ve had solidifies again and again that a 9-5 job is not for me. It’s not inspiring or fulfilling at all.

I graduated college in three years, double major, with honors. Basically, I wanted to get my degree and leave. When I set my mind to something, I go all-in. However, in this case, that meant I was left with a degree for an industry I’m not interested in and little idea of what else I could do. My extra-curriculars, striving for all the leadership, resume-building stuff out there, weren’t even that successful. I tried to make a campus organization that never got off the ground. I left other activities with an acrid taste in my mouth.

The next best solution after graduating college with no job opportunities in sight? Go volunteer abroad for a year. Put it all off. Maybe everything will become crystal clear by the end of your service. You can guess the answer of how that plan went: not at all. I applied to likely over 100 jobs with no bites. The time I had planned to spend mapping out my next steps as a thriving young professional haven’t been a thing.

A bright light in it all is in this bleak-sounding scene is the decision to go to seminary. Within a few weeks of the job hunt failing, I wrote thousands of words for application essays in less than a month and went for it. Three cheers for getting accepted! But here’s my problem: I cannot afford to both pursue a Master’s degree and live on my own somewhere else. The motivating drive of getting to live somewhere new in my own space financially doesn’t add up. The existential crisis I thought I was over? Psych.

Too many millennials must endure this same situation of having to live at home to eke by. And when you’re a dreamer who thrives on change in scenery, it makes you feel so…defeated. Behind everyone else. Asking yourself, Will I ever get the chance to move forward? Snag those picture-worthy opportunities everyone else seems to be getting?

The “goal.”

So desperately, we want to fit into the mold of “success.” You get that college degree, you land a full-time job, find a living space to call your own in a new city, and be that “boss” the media glorifies. It’s a tier of productivity, motivation, go-getter and world-changer ambition. If you’re not doing all those things, what are you doing? Insert ensuing existential crisis.

We cannot be that. Only a robot can always be that. We’re human, and life is hard. Each of us faces adversity in different ways. When such adversity resides in an aspect of life that seems to define us and all we do, it’s hard to think clearly.

Truth is, nobody’s on the same path. A quick scroll through social media might convince you otherwise, but remember that comparison is poison. The people who we see as successful are also seeing someone else traveling the world, landing promotions, and getting engaged. We all have times of questioning everything.

Not meant for this world.

Our society doesn’t support those of us who despise living in one place, working in traditional jobs, coming home exhausted in every sense of the word. Let’s be real: my goals include living in a van, having a farm sanctuary, publishing a book, and being my own boss. I can already hear everyone, after listening to these intentions with a confused look on their faces, asking, “Yes, but how do plan on making money?”

Well, everyone, you leave me stumped. You have me panicking over finances my head cannot wrap itself around. I’m terrified no employer will ever want me. That I don’t fit into any industry. The image of a thirty-year-old living in their mother’s basement is a true fear, even as someone who can appreciate her own hard-working ambition.

A simple life is all I need. I don’t need to be swimming in monetary wealth. Give me the necessities, and I’m good. The idea of becoming a recluse in the woods is quite the appealing idea. Big Foot, hit me up.

It’s okay.

Emotions of this existential crisis have been weighing on my mind. But what I want to leave you on is the cold, hard truth: you’re okay. You’re doing just fine. If everything isn’t all worked out right now, give it time. All those cheesy Facebook posts about the greatest success stories happening in people’s 30s and beyond are cliché because they’re true every time we hear it.

Maybe it’ll take some time to settle your mind, to plan out your next steps, to potentially prepare for those next steps to fail. Just don’t give up. Don’t lose hope, as hopeless as you likely feel. The next chapter is bound to begin with amazing things in store you would’ve never expected.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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