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Ask HN: When you feel stuck in life
381 points by msleona 485 days ago | hide | past | web | 339 comments | favorite

I'd just like to give my two cents where I know no one gives a shit ever. I'm 29 years old. I finished with my Business Administration degree(major) and now I just feel completely LOST! Has anyone ever felt that way? You have the drive and motivation to get to your destination but once you are there -- you're left wondering -- "what else could I have done? What else is there to life? Because if this is all there is then I'm not happy." And, truth be told, I am not happy. I'd like to be something -- more than just an office person. More than just someone who works that 8-5 shift. I feel like a complete wreck. Has anyone ever felt this way?

I feel like I should go back to school but do I really want to rack up all that loan? I am already struggling right now. I just wish I knew where to start as a push and motivation.

What would you guys do if ya were in my shoes?

Usually on this site and Quora, when people have a post like yours, the posters usually offer a piece of advice, that in my humble opinion, advices are useless because usually they say more about the advice-giver, what they wish they could've done when they were younger (doctors/lawyers who studied hard to make bank, advising all students to have fun when they're young but how did they get there?), or tout their own successes when the advice-receiver may or may not have the same background to be able to replicate it (people here with STEM background touting meritocracy and hard-work will eventually get everyone a job but when did you start learning coding and under what circumstances??).

As a 29-year old, I'll offer instead my own personal regret about my 20's without any panacea, I hope that it is relevant to your stated idea even though it may not seem so at first:

Last night I came home after going out with a bunch of friends from a startup at a "reunion outing" that we all used to work at several years ago,

We are all 28, 29, 30 now and we were 26, 25, 24 when we were hanging out everyday at work and after work; and past the superficial remembrances of the "all fun times we had," inside jokes of what-he-said, what-she-said, casual bantering at the pool table and the double high-fives for the ladies and low ass slaps for the bro's after the final game, on the back of the Lyft ride home, I thought about how we never ever really fought.

Not talking about general boorishness caused by alcohol and clashing sensitive male ego's, nor the passive-aggression between friends or acquaintances where perceived slights/differences built up but never confronted, beef never squashed instead squished down underneath the social surface that years pass by, your group's "happy hours" turns from a "thing" into a remembrance - that you heard only about XXX's wedding from your other friends who had been invited but you feel only slightly annoyed because XXX has already become someone who you used to know.

But really fight in a moment, air out your differences, coming into a fight, knowing that you or the other person may not come out at end as friends anymore, but you have a hope to salvage things, out of a conviction to be authentic to yourself and the other person, out of an intent to love the other person even if there is a such deep well of negative emotions, frustration, hatred, feeling of injustice and inspired self-insecurity, that you can't help but to still respect/admire the uniqueness/individuality of the person and even a wisp of self-reconsideration of your own part in the sordid affair; and hope you guys might come be able to come out the other side.

This is the my biggest regret about my 20's. That I have always ducked all my opportunities to fight.

Instead of accepting the up's and down's in any natural relationships, I took every setback, every feeling of feeling stagnant as an outlet to push people away. Underneath the thin sheath of rationalizations is a dread of knowing myself as who I truly who I am if I were to fight, I'll be exposed. So it is with this never-said but oft-acted upon notion I've come away with a decade of superficial trinkets instead of battle scars, and without the satisfaction that I've truly ever loved.

> But really fight in a moment, air out your differences, coming into a fight, knowing that you or the other person may not come out at end as friends anymore, but you have a hope to salvage things, out of a conviction to be authentic to yourself and the other person, out of an intent to love the other person even if there is a such deep well of negative emotions, frustration, hatred, feeling of injustice and inspired self-insecurity, that you can't help but to still respect/admire the uniqueness/individuality of the person and even a wisp of self-reconsideration of your own part in the sordid affair; and hope you guys might come be able to come out the other side.

Man, I wish there was HN gold for stuff like this.

I have learned to picked my fights but this is the key to determining who's most important in my life. If we can go through something like this and still talk to each other afterwards then we are friends for life.

I had this same problem. Took everything at face value in my 20's and didn't have the courage to fight. Once I did my life got much more happier. I hate that it took a long time to figure that out.

Let me provide a different perspective: In my early years I did not miss a single fight. I argued hard, enjoyed it a lot, and usually won. At 40, I started to hate what that habit had turned me into.

Fast forward: these days I try to resolve any conflict immediately and I value harmony indefinitely higher than being right. There is so much more to life than fighting!

Of course, knowing that you are able to fight hard might be necessary in order to avoid conflict. So I'm not saying, don't fight -- just keep an eye on the greater picture while you do!

Wow, this is great. Can we be friends because I love to argue with people I know. If you don't fight, you never realize who you are, you just think you're the same being as Pauly D, but you missed your "big shot" somewhere along the line. One of the most incredible feelings I've ever experienced is severely disagreeing with 3 friends but really feeling passionate about it, then running into the woods to contemplate and cry, and then returning and getting 3 hugs. I want you to know that. It's a "You haven't lived until..." type of thing.

There are a reasonable number of people who think like this all the time: https://www.16personalities.com/entp-personality

Just saying :)

I really like it. It's something I aspire to do but cannot. Partly, it's hard, because being a female you constantly monitor the distance between yourself and a friend and adjust accordingly. This might be too uncomfortable to bear through. I tried it today and it worked though. Can I send this to friends? Have you posted this anywhere like on FB so I could share? Thanks!

This is amazing, thank you for sharing this.

I'm going through something similar and you never want to go on a full on fight because, like you said, it's hard "knowing that you or the other person may not come out as friends anymore".

It's a hard lesson but I'm slowly realizing that it's better to know the limits of how real and true your friendships are rather than realizing it was all based off unstable foundations.

Maybe it's a personality thing. I regret having one too many of the fights you'd like to have. Not all ended friendships but some of them did and although I miss none of the ones I lost - because I don't/didn't regard them as true friends - I still think that I've lost more than I gained.

Shit. That scares me. Thank you for posting.

You aren't wrong. Most of us are stuck in conformist, drab and conservative societies, where we're forced to participate in the market economy. This is soul-crushing, and bad for nearly everyone, but especially those in poor countries.

I recommend:

1. Don't work hard. Try to reduce your productivity.

2. Don't work long hours. Reduce your working week to the minimum necessary. Most university graduates earn enough to live comfortably on 10 or 20 hours work per week.

3. Have less stuff. Go outside more, even if it's to play Pokemon Go.

4. Do things for other people.

5. Try to lead an innovative life. Don't wear a tie.

6. Seek to abolish the existing world order.

This is one of those puzzling comments that I can't tell if tongue-in-cheek or actually serious.

I like it! Life's too serious and people need some chaotic ambiguity to spice it up.

> Don't work hard. Try to reduce your productivity.

Sounds good. Most people aren't as productive as they think they are, imho. I'd rather not buy into their facade and just be as productive as I need to be when I need to be!

> Don't work long hours. Reduce your working week to the minimum necessary. Most university graduates earn enough to live comfortably on 10 or 20 hours work per week.

Eh, I don't know where you live, but 10-20 hours of work would be a straight path to homelessness. Unless you mean actual hours of productive work (in a nominal 40 hour work week). Then it's a good target.

> Have less stuff. Go outside more, even if it's to play Pokemon Go.

Completely agree. Going outside in the summer and staying inside (a suburban home) has changed my life for the better more than any other single thing.

> Do things for other people.

Any suggestions? What do you think most people would like done for them?

> Seek to abolish the existing world order.

I think the world order is doing a pretty good job in that on its own.

> Seek to abolish the existing world order.

Seems like abolishing world orders takes a lot of work. At least more than ten hours per week.

You just have to abolish smarter, not harder.

10 hours a week would be fantastic. Or any non-zero amount of time. If everyone did this it would be a revolutionary force the likes of which have not been seen in decades.

I am not sure about the work less/work less hard comments. I get paid a decent, fair wage by my employer. I personally consider it "justice" if I do my best and give them my best. As a new father, I have to fight to work hard and also give my family time.

I abolished the world order- thermo-dynamics is gone- you are free, no need to eat the sun anymore and to fight your way up in the layer of sun-eating-refinement order.

If you want to abolish something, at least make a suggestion with what you want to replace it.

This is an odd thing to say in a place where disruption for disruption's sake is the order of business. No one wants to think about how their productivity-enhancing products destroy ways of life without offering a good replacement.

Odd in a good way. Yes, let's smash capitalism, but let's not replace it with a more oppressive system, as often happens in revolutions.

In addition to that I suggest abandoning the idea of trying to be somebody. More important than individuals are what they achieve when working together.

This belongs to point 4: "do things for other people". Doing things for others often works best when joining existing efforts. Many projects with a social agenda don't have enough funds or supporters, because they operate outside of the simple profit model.

Yes. Don't be "somebody"", just be yourself and work on improving a few skills plus get out of your comfort zone. Go to an acting class. Learn a new language. Go to a small, special cafe every day where the people after a while greet you like family. Read "a guide to the good life" and really reflect about it. Then read it again.

Great points here. Counterpoints to consider:

1 & 2 are different for everyone. I get an energy boost from working a certain amount of really productive hours during the week. Be self-aware, meditate, and identify the symptoms leading up to burnout. Err on the side of caution when it comes to preventing exhaustion, but let yourself binge on productivity if you're excited about the work you're doing. After you're done with that project, if you have a chance, take some time off and do something completely different. Surround yourself with people, opportunities and environments that make you excited to take a break.

No. Work hard. On something that matters. The world needs a lot of help. If people with privilege use that privilege to slack off rather than give back, the world has no hope.

You will find a lot of meaning and joy in giving, in focusing on the well-being of others. Your own well-being will follow.

Yes to 3, 4 and 6! 5 Never hurts.

There is no point in burning out quickly. Burn sustainably.

> The world needs a lot of help.

With great power comes great responsibility.

There are many people even in developed countries[1] who need help of those who made it through.

[1] http://slatestarcodex.com/2015/12/24/how-bad-are-things/

7. Cut social media out of your life.

I've never been happier and more clear-headed than I've been since I stopped using pretty much all social media (except Snapchat with close family).

By the way, we need more people working on #6.

Hacker news comments don't count.

Having an office job, eg. signing a work contract where you have to schow up every morning is not participating in the market economy but voluntary slavery. Don´t be a slave!

I live in Europe where self employement is not common but the most happiest friends of mine are all somehow self employed.

Signing a voluntary contract is the antithesis of slavery. It may be boring and soul-sucking labour that you do not enjoy, but it is no more slavery than signing a contract with a customer is. Your time and effort are your own, and the reward is rightfully yours.

He's taking a much broader view. You aren't forced into that job, but how are you going to survive if you don't do some form of work that's accepted by society as such?

If people own essentially all the livable land on the planet, then there isn't really a way to retreat from society to live on your own terms. The owner of the land will eventually stop you from using it. So in a sense, you're being forced to participate in a human society to some degree, and forced to provide benefit back to that society. Consequences for not doing so usually end up to be having some form of violence or another done to you.

It's not a voluntary contract if you have to sign that contract to survive. At least not "voluntary" in a sense that is meaningful to most people living today.

As opposed to my "voluntary" contributions and obligations to the state? In that case, it's all about a magical "social contract" that I never signed, and inherited from birth. From birth, let that sink in for a little bit. That is an order of magnitude more slave-like than a voluntary contract that I enter into as an adult.

But when it comes to an actual contract, willingly signed, then "oh but you have to sign to survive". Well yes, except I don't. I can go live in the middle of nowhere and live off the land. You try doing that with the anything state-related, and then tell me how voluntary it is.


... that is not what slavery is

By "slave" I mean somebody who is not free in the sense of:

>> A free man sells the results of his work. A free man cleans someone's house and bills him when the work is done. A free man drives passengers from the airport to their home and bills them when they get there. A free man creates a software module and bills the client when it's ready. A free man translates a document and bills per page. A free man cooks a cake and bills for it.

A free man sells results, not time.

Also, a free man takes care of the food and security on his or her own.

Is it more risky? Yes. Is it more stressful? Yes. But that's what freedom is about.

Source: http://www.yegor256.com/2015/07/21/hourly-pay-modern-slavery...

Employment contracts aside... Let's just ask ourselves, is having a job optional?

Of course it is optional, because no one is holding a gun to your head, right?

But "everybody knows" that 1. if you don't work, you'll sooner or later (perhaps sooner!) be homeless and 2. homelessness can lead to sudden, violent death.

Just because the trigger and the barrel are far apart doesn't mean it isn't a gun.

I, too, hate the endless mouse wheel of employment. However, having a job is a COMPLETELY OPTIONAL choice that one makes; nothing is stopping any of us from living on a deserted island without a job.

Having a job is the cost of living in society. It sucks and needs improvement, but it is not as bad as slavery where you have no choice and not much gain.

> Having a job is the cost of living in society.

In other words, we are born into debt and must work all our lives to pay off that debt. This is true in so many ways, and makes what we're talking about amount to at best a kind of bonded child labor.

You don't have to think of it as slavery, but it's very very far from COMPLETELY OPTIONAL. There is no deserted island to live on!! There are no guarantees of universal housing, or healthcare, or much else that is needed to survive. Until there are, working vs. not working can never be a real choice. The working class by definition must work in order to live.

One could potentially find an uninhabited island with soil and water among the islands in the world, like 1 out of the 5000 uninhabited ones in the Philippine archipelago. One could even hide out in a remote location on land in a random large country, like Russia.

It might take some work, but it seems possible to me.

Such a trip costs money. To secure the legal right to inhabit the island, to make the trip, and to bring enough supplies to survive.

A person either needs to use his parent's cash or to work for a number of years and save before leaving. The "choice" isn't available to him until that happens, so either his parents must work to purchase their child's freedom, or he must work to purchase it himself. In either case this is one of the very definitions of slavery.

I could write a long post about this but my thought process currently is that being born in society automatically includes the cost of the knowledge that gets transferred to you even without doing anything. Geting automatically registered in the system and being born in a hospital or a house with heating has an inherent cost like "society debt". I think its part of evolution and not linked to monetary systems, money is only a representation.

Yeah, I stopped calling it "slavery" because it tends to derail the discussion. However, if you say that slavery gives you "no choice and not much gain" then the jobs are mostly improvement in the second aspect - you still don't have a choice, but you get a bit more in return.

Don't you think the owner of this deserted island with enough resources to live on might at some point object to you being there and force you off his land?

There is no living outside of society, outside of private property and the rule of law. There is no real choice here.

Right. Those systems ate the world a long time ago.

This is sort of a proxy conversation about money. I'd like to point out that manufacturing your own money from scratch is a good way to get shot.

> Employment contracts aside... Let's just ask ourselves, is having a job optional?

The majority of people need to work if they want to survive, that's true. So "jobs" aren't voluntary. But "a job" is. You don't have to pick plants out in a field if you don't want to. If you don't like your position, or boss, or pay, you can quit and look for work elsewhere. Or even have multiple jobs!

A slave doesn't get to say "This other company is nicer and pays better, so I'm leaving here and going there instead." But you can.

Slaves don't get to pick where they sleep, either.

Thing is, neither do most people.

    SELECT TOP 1 job,residence
    FROM jobs JOIN residences
    WHERE jobs.pay > residences.rent
    ORDER BY jobs.pay DESC, residences.rent ASC
it's common to add some qualifications like...

    AND jobs.category NOT IN ('murder','prostitution')
    AND residences.crime_factor < 0.4

But that doesn't change the fact that LOTS of people believe in their hearts that they have absolutely no choice but to continue doing exactly what they are doing.

I'd hazard the guess that almost all of us have actually removed WHERE predicates because during the initial searches (back in late childhood), zero rows were returned. Predicates like

    jobs.category = 'helping_people'

    residences.climate = 'tropical'
If you are thinking that it's just not possible for everyone to have their ideal job, fine. It's not. But stop for just a second and review that survival part...

Why exactly is it so hard to survive without a job, in 2016? I mean, physically. You need air and water and food and shelter. Those are listed in decreasing order of necessary frequency.

Seems to me that the problem is rent and the social framework that enforces eviction via violence--even if the space isn't otherwise being used.

I, for one, would not die without a job--not from starvation. But I would eventually be arrested, beat up, stripped of my possessions, etc, and that would eventually lead to death. The jobless don't die--they are killed.


In those terms, we are enslaved by the existence of personal property. Or maybe by the existence of society, in general. Society's requirements force you into a certain set of paths.

> Why exactly is it so hard to survive without a job, in 2016?

Why should it not be, for a sufficiently broad definition of "job"?

Because it seems that the "survival" part could - and should - be automated away in this day and age. Just like we try and do with all the other boring stuff we don't want to do over and over and over again.

Automation is an effort multiplier, but it's not a cure-all, and it's not free. Building and maintaining the system will ultimately take some sort of time, work, or money input from people. So, if someone isn't going to somehow contribute to the input, why should they benefit from the output? And if they are contributing somehow, then isn't that a job?

Give me that job, and I'll happily shut up!

I like how you're thinking.

    > [Suppose] we are enslaved by the
    > existence of personal property ...
Okay. All personal property, or would could this be narrowed down to real estate?

    > [Maybe we are enslaved] by the
    > existence of society, in general.
I hope not. I hope to isolate the problem down to something more specific, and file a bug report.

This topic is a hobby of mine.

Having the choice to choose which ruler you serve it's not what it seems to be. As Machiavelli wrote:

>> for men change their rulers willingly, hoping to better themselves [...] they are deceived, because they afterwards find by experience they have gone from bad to worse

Not being a slave means not having a ruler.

Everything is a gun then.

I ate a banana once. I will die some day. Bananas are guns.

I don't know if I've ever seen #1 given as advice, at least around these parts... very contrarian! I like it.

I don't necessarily disagree, a balanced life is a good thing. But on the other hand it's just a slightly lesser conformist one. What you really want to do is to channel your energy and ambition in another direction. Unless you're rich you can't live on dreams. You have to pay your dues. But then instead of buying a house and waiting for that promotion you can do something different.

Point 6 seems to be in conflict with point 1. Changing the world order will require lots of work (or lots of thinking, which is also work).

I'm speaking of work we're forced to do within the market-liberal economy. You are not likely to get paid to overthrow it.

Not to be picky, but if you're trying to do (6), forget about trying to do (1) & (2)

Abolishing the world order seems unnecessary but the rest is reasonable advice :)

I think setting achievable goals to work towards also helps. Although I feel "stuck" at times as well.

You aren't forced to. You could always choose to be in poverty instead, if you don't care to do produce any wealth.

If I put a gun to your head, I'm not forcing you to do anything - you can always choose the bullet.

That market economy is running only on voluntary trade is one of the biggest and weirdest misconception that's being spread. Most of the transactions we make are ones we cannot reasonably choose not to make. We can at best choose the vendor we're dealing with.

I think those two things are different despite them both being coercive. Most civilizations have always frowned on the equivalent of holding a gun to someone's head, but not the idea that you need to work to survive.

But let's suppose that force is involved in a market economy. I would agree that it should be there. And its because I'm not from a wealthy background. I've worked with the people that would benefit from this kind of change, and a large majority of them would waste it.

Or these days the advice may be to ear a tie!

Since lots of tech-oriented companies have a very relaxed or non-existent clothing policy.

Anything to stand out.

I've been feeling this way since middle school.

I didn't really have any bad subjects in school, so I figured I could do whatever interested me professionally, but nothing really strongly appealed to me other than a paycheck large enough to eat out whenever I wanted. I discovered programming was pretty fun, now I'm a software engineer, and I'm just saving money for.....something. I don't know what.

I've been trying to figure out what I'm moving towards for years. I just don't know where it's going. Marry, have children, buy house, continue office job? I want to really care. I see so much wrong with the world and I don't have any clever ideas on how to fix it.

I don't want to make an app, something that adds a little convenience but doesn't truly make anyone's lives better. I want to fix something that's manifestly broken. I envy Elon Musk above all others, because he's seen terribly important things that were very broken, and had what it took to break all barriers to fixing them. Needless to say I'm not Elon Musk. Most people aren't.

I'd like to fix something social more than technological. I'd like to fix something societal that's broken, like the fact that Congress is literally a joke among Americans, that people feel so detached and isolated from the people creating policy that we don't bother to vote because we don't think it'll change anything.

But I don't know how to fix those things, so I keep working conventional jobs, but I can barely bring myself to do them, because my heart isn't in it, and I feel the years passing.

As an aside, I did have one little idea recently that spoke to me:

I was thinking it would be nice if there were some sort of media outlet that focused on solutions instead of problems.

Imagine a news source where the articles were outlines of plans by people in positions to leverage change, explaining specifically what they want to change and how to do it. Every article would end with links and contact information informing people how they could support a plan that appealed to them: who they could call, where they could donate, where they could show up to voice support, or where they could apply to join.

For example, imagine a town official in charge of roads, explaining why the repairs on a certain local highway on-ramp have been delayed for two years. Imagine all the people in that town finally getting to say, "Ah, this is the guy in charge of that! But if what he says here is true, this isn't his fault! As a constituent, I can call this number to pressure the right person in this specific town agency to remove such-and-such barrier!"

This could work for local or national or international issues, I feel.

This all occurred to me when I was thinking about why most of the news doesn't seem to make things better, except for occasional major reveals of things that need to be publicized, like Snowden or Theranos.

This sounds like a good idea! Not sure how to monetize such thing, but hey, not everything worth doing can generate money.

I don't know either.

good.is claims to do this, but it's actually a junk viral news site. :-(

>I want to fix something that's manifestly broken. I envy Elon Musk above all others, because he's seen terribly important things that were very broken, and had what it took to break all barriers to fixing them.

Here is the thing though: Elon didn't pop into existence as the founder of SpaceX or Telsa, or being involved in PayPal.

The way I see it is that he didn't just take the steps to break through the barriers, he took all the steps to get to the barrier.

No one glamorizes what it takes to get to being where Elon is (ok, maybe not a lot of people) but you have to start somewhere.

Sure. Writing an app isn't going to save the world, but maybe if you can fix just one little bitty problem (even if it is just other people's boredom!), maybe you can take that little bit of leverage / money / whatever to move on to something even bigger, ad infinitum. :)

I've felt similarly since middle school.

I keep coming back to poor education as the root cause of many problems worth fixing. Sometimes, the root cause is more basic: poor public health. Most hard problems are going to be solved very slowly. In the meantime, short-term solutions just don't seem worthwhile.

The frustrating part is that it's not readily apparent how our technical skills can help with these hard, fundamental problems.

Exactly so.

"my heart isn't in it, and I feel the years passing."

That spoke to me directly, because it's exactly how I feel right now. Seems like my only option is to take control myself and make the necessary changes. Getting to that point is the hard part.

Just get involved in something and figure out how you can get leverage. If at every step in your life you are looking to build up leverage it becomes more interesting. Can I use that experience to convince someone to hire me/ contract me? Can I make contacts that will help me eventually If I need press? Can I learn a skill that is unique and interesting and adds value where people are not easily willing to give it?

You could come join us at 18F or USDS. :)

Waiting to see what the next administration does with ya.

18F is not tied to the white house, so there should be no changes when the next administration arrives, no matter who it is.

18F are still contractors, right? So you are kidding? :)

    > "...there should be no changes when
    > the next administration arrives..."
I understand that you are referring to some specific small category of changes. You're saying that no new president can administratively close 18f. Got it.

But, for the English word 'changes', there will be some.

If you had to place a bet regarding the future size of the USDS, what factors would you consider when choosing where to put your money?

No, we are federal employees.

Just read your "24 Things I Did At 24". Very inspirational!

Believe me, the temptation is strong.

this hits really close to home. i know that Musk's success/influence isn't overnight but still feel lost since i'm way behind compare to where he was at my age. it feels like it's impossible to catch up..


You should embark on side projects. They will teach you so much more than school ever will, and they will reward you in a way that nothing else really can. If your projects can make money too, then that's icing on the cake. You will be free.

I'm 25 years old with no degree, taught myself to code for the past 2 years and got turned down for thousands of developer jobs. I ended up working in a factory doing curtain assembly, and selling websites door-to-door after work, until last month, where the first day I decide to go back to sports, I tear my meniscus.

Thankfully, healthcare in Canada is free. However, with 250$ to my name at the time of surgery, the future was looking really, really dark. Can't work, and can't do door-to-door sales. Mother Nature has deadly accuracy with those curveballs.

In the hospital bed, I'm having an existential debate of what to do with my life (in the immediate future). I can sell my Macbook to stay afloat, but that means that I can't build iOS apps anymore. I can ask my brother for money, but he's just about the biggest asshole ever to have roamed the planet and we have a trash relationship. After a lot of tears and self-pity, and telling my life story to the nurse, I decide I'm going to throw life a curveball of my own and invest all I have in a new e-commerce venture.

So I set up a quick WooCommerce site selling Pokemon Go apparel and blew 200$ of my 250$ on FB and Instagram ads, and believe it or not, within 3 days, I nailed my first sale, and got approached by 2 Pokemon influencers to sell to their following.

I'm now making about 2 sales a day, which amounts to 30-35$. It's peanuts, but I've survived on less, and honestly, stuck in bed with a full zimmer brace, super high on painkillers, 10 full minutes to do a washroom trip and I am happier than I have ever been in my entire life. I'm trapped in bed for the next month, but I have never felt more free. Maybe with this, I don't even have to go to work again.

So that's my two cents, for your two cents. Find a project with potential and work on it. It doesn't have to bring money, it may be learning to play Californication on the guitar or implementing a hashing algorithm, but as long as it's something you enjoy and makes you grow, this is IMHO what life is all about.

>... and got turned down for thousands of developer jobs.

Over what period of time? No offense, but I'm hoping that's an innocent exaggeration. I'm not very familiar with the market for developers in Canada, though based on that it sounds particularly brutal.

Either way, good on you for moving forward despite all that.

Over a period of 18 months.

Canada is nothing like the US in terms of the developer market. I read all kinds of blog posts about people who learned to code, built stuff and found a job, but it took me a bit of time to realize that Canada is a totally different beast. The amount of junior dev job openings in this country is cute next to New York's. So I started applying there and all over the US, and to Europe, and to Australia, and to South America, etc.. None of those worked out. Those add up to thousands.

I still apply for dev jobs to this day, but only when I have a new project to add to my CV. The way I see it, with every project I complete, I get closer to landing that job. And who knows, maybe one of my projects will eventually be able to support me by itself.

I think it's probably hyperbole.

If it's "thousands" as in 1002 rejections, that's almost 3 years of doing one interview every day, from Monday to Sunday. Even if you assume two interviews per day, that's still more than a year.

Edit: Assuming you only do one interview per rejection.

I wouldn't take it as an indicator of the job market in Canada.

I would think maybe he refers to having a lot of rejections but still I would hope it's in the order of 100 or so at most

Or it could be rejections even earlier in the process, like not receiving a response after sending in your resume to a job posting.

> So I set up a quick WooCommerce site selling Pokemon Go apparel

Can you give us a rundown on how you set up your site, and then marketed it?

I dunno in how much detail you want this but I'm dropshipping using an on-demand printing and fulfillment service. I create my designs, I send it to them, when I get an order, they print, pack, brand and ship.

I marketed my site using fb and ig ads (fabulous conversion rates on fb retargeting) and automated my community building on ig using an instagram bot I found on github

I think my biggest questions are on the line of, "How is this even possible!?" I felt like nearly every part of what you said you just did blew my mind, a little bit, in different ways.

How do you get your designs? How did you sell ads for a service that didn't yet exist? How did you set up a store for which you had no inventory?

Blowing my mind, because your time from idea to execution was so fast, and that would not even have crossed my mind as possible. (edit: I'm not even sure I know the right questions to ask about how to get started on learning to do such things.)

This makes us at WooCommerce very happy!

Dude, your answer is awesome. I've been thinking a lot about starting side projects, but I never started one. It's awful to surrender to your own stagnation... btw, how did you find Pokemon influencers? I hope you'll find the perfect dev job!

Sounds awesome whats your next project?

Humans are designed to make things. I prefer to make stuff with my hands and bits of wood.

I'm 32 and I've had similar thoughts at least since I was 27. A kind of existential crisis tinged with deep boredom and non-clinical depression.

I've found 3 things that have helped me deal with my depression/boredom:

1. Have things to look forward to:

Always, always find things to anticipate and look forward to in the short and long term. Whether it is something small, like a treat at the end of the day or something big like a vacation or short trip away.

2. Side projects & working towards self-employment.

Ultimately, the aim is to be the master of my own time. I no longer have to wake up at 8am because I HAVE to but because I (may) WANT to. This for me is so important. To be the master of my time. I'm 32 now, if I'm lucky to live to 70 you can say that I have about 14-20 years of productive time in me. I want to use it for myself.

3. Spirituality.

I know that this isn't for everyone. Personally, I find religion and spirituality helps me to cope with every day issues. It gives me strength where I might otherwise just find a gaping void of pointless-ness into which to fall.

I hope this helps you. As mentioned by another comment try to avoid alcohol. You won't find the answers you need a the bottom of a bottle.

  > 3. Spirituality.
  > I know that this isn't for everyone.
Or philosophy, for the non-religious. If you know nothing about it (like myself) I suggest starting here (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwxNMb28XmpfEr2zNKQfU...) then pick up a book or two.

Do you have a family? A family, an SO or kids is the best way to understand life through other perspectives.

Getting married and/or having kids is a terrible way to try to address existential boredom. A spouse will not give your life purpose. Kids probably won't either, and if it turns out that you are unhappy and resentful after your failed attempt to solve your boredom, you can easily screw up your kids' lives (and screw up your own life, because kids are not a short-term commitment).

Have kids because you want them. Not because you think they'll give your life purpose.

> Getting married and/or having kids is a terrible way to try to address existential boredom.

Starting or growing a family is a terrible way to solve problems.

If interaction with kids seems like a good use of time, start by volunteering with mentoring organizations like Big Brother/Big Sister or Boys and Girls Clubs. Or help out with the kids programs at church/temple/synagogue if you're into organized religion.

If that pans out well, consider babysitting for foster families. Foster parents do incredible amounts of good for society and get run into the ground in the process. It seems simple, but giving them a night off here and there is a huge help.

If that goes well, then maybe consider adopting or starting a family. At any rate, there are a lot of young people out there that could use positive (especially male!) role models.

Stack Overflow is definitely the best way to understand life through other perspectives

SO = Significant Other, i.e., a partner.

It makes more sense calling Stack Overflow "SO" than calling your spouse that.

Depends who spends more time with you in your life ;) I'm with my SO more than I read the website, for sure (which is minimal or rarely).

Also, the term "significant other" can mean more than spouse (which implies marriage): [boy|girl]friend, life partner, close-friend-kind-of-person, etc.

No, but I plan to start one soon. It's true that having children gives you a new perspective on life.

Most people don't find meaning in the raising of children. It changes your life a lot, but if you feel like your life is aimless and you're just on autopilot, you'll probably feel the same after having kids. It's rare for a person to define their purpose in terms of their kids and be happy about that. Most people still want to have a self-actualized purpose.

They (children) also change your priorities (...and time, plans, budget...whole life)

> Spirituality

I rediscovered being a member of a dojo. Combines some elements of spirituality / higher purpose together with some pretty awesome exercise endorphins. It's like church, but without the god thing.

> It's like church, but without the god thing.

That's like saying it's like an omelette without eggs or soup without water.

"Going to church" is much more than worship of a god-being. Being part of a community is important. Church helps with that.

This is absolutely what I mean--having a group that cuts across a different set of sociodemographic characteristics than I otherwise encounter regularly. The shared struggle of the whole thing also makes it a pretty close-knit group.

There is a higher purpose involved, it's just not a deity. A church is a society wound around a higher purpose.

You might not be aware of the fact that there ARE godless religions - for example buddism.

> omelette without eggs or soup without water

Those sound like interesting recipes to me. Water is fine though, as long as it isn't fluoridated.

29 myself, and going through something similar. Millennials like us aren't allowed to grow up, it doesn't matter how successful or educated we are. In fact, the more we accomplish the more we are disinfranchised because society merely wants us to be consumers, go to work, pay the bills, and try not to cause any trouble. We aren't supposed to be anything more than consumer wage slaves.

Our generation has been brainwashed since we were children with identity politics, identity consumerism, and identity propaganda. We've been demoralized to believe in a system that is so utterly corrupt and rigged against us that there really isn't an answer to your question. You've already screwed yourself with a useless college degree and likely debt, and literally paid them to brainwash you into believing what they taught you actually has relevance to the real world. It doesn't, which is partly why you're feeling what you're feeling.

My best advice to you is stop doing what anyone else tells you, stop following the path society wants you to, and in fact avoid the things you're supposed to do. Start a daily meditation practice, take care of yourself, eat well, focus your energy on creating value for others, and put all the distractions down and go outside.

Don't subscribe to propaganda, don't identify with anything anyone else tells you to, listen to your intuition, study things that interest you on your own always. Learn to teach yourself whatever you're interested in. Stop expecting the world or anyone else to hand you anything, and become the best problem solver you can become.

Everything else is just noise.

> Millennials like us

I think it's worth mentioning that almost none of what you've said is new to Millennials. People were expressing the same sentiments in the 80s and 90s. My parents and their hippie friends were expressing the same sentiments in the 1970s.

While it might not be new, it doesn't change the fact that it is still happening, and actually gotten worse. Many of those people you're referring to likely ended up disenfranchised later in life as well, some of them may have even ended up in jail (which happened to a few of my Dad's hippie friends). Many of those people you're referring to never had the chance to grow up to be functioning members of society which further illustrates my point.

If you gave me a choice, I would love to exchange the levels of corruption and economic conditions from the 70's, 80's, and 90's for whatever the hell it is we have today. There were 10x the possibilities then there are today, and society in general was much more free compared to the present.

Our parents didn't grow up in a surveillance state, sure maybe they had some run-ins with the police when out in public, but that was it. There is no privacy anymore, and if you do or say anything that doesn't fit a politically correct narrative you're not only unemployable, but pretty much ostracized from society today.

>If you gave me a choice, I would love to exchange the levels of corruption and economic conditions from the 70's, 80's, and 90's

This is a pretty rose-colored view of the era that included the Vietnam War, interest rates at 20+%, Iran-Contra, an assassination attempt on the President of the U.S., the Cold War and the associated threat of total societal destruction, the uncertainty surrounding the end of communism, at least two deep recessions, a war in Iraq, vastly fewer rights for LGBT groups, much higher crime rates in U.S. cities, the crack epidemic, the emergence of AIDS, and so on and so on and so on.

Your generation isn't experiencing anything more novel than the ones that came before it. Your problems might be different, in some ways, but the sky isn't falling.

You missed the employment rate that sucked. Anyone who thinks the 70's were better than what we have now has no idea what they are talking about.

I'm just getting through "How I found freedom in an unfree world", It's amazing and touches on a lot of themes of this post, Please read it. :)

This seems awfully cynical to me.

There's a big difference between slavery, and working a job because the money affords your preferred lifestyle or life goals and you've decided that the positives outweigh the negatives. A difference so big in fact that I find it confounding that a term like "wage slave" even sees regular use. I wonder how actual slaves (of which there are more today than at any other point in human history) would feel about such a term.

The two things are so different that your advice to OP is that they should stop. Try giving that advice to an actual slave.

You can choose to work or not to work, it's an option we all have because we're fortunate enough to be members of a society that is mostly civil and mostly good, and work is easier and more rewarding in our part of the world than it has ever been anywhere else, or at any other point in time.

My advice to OP is to find the job where you can have the largest impact, find a cause you care about outside of work, and donate a percentage of your income to it. If it's not fulfilling to you to use that income to live for yourself, you can seek fulfillment in working for a social good (it sounds like that's something you want to do anyway).

Ben Horowitz says you shouldn't follow your passion:


I think this is great advice with a strong basis in reality. You said you wanted to make an impact and fix things socially? You will do more for that by doing whatever it is you're best at, and using the influence and wealth that earns you to affect positive change socially. Maybe you won't work on it directly, but indirectly your impact will be far greater if you do whatever it is you're best at, whatever that may be.

Personally, I choose to live a frugal life and accumulate wealth. It's going to compound interest over the course of my life, and when I'm gone it's all going to causes that I care about. That's because I could donate $1 today, or I could keep it invested and donate $5 when I die.

I may never actually work on social issues directly, I may not be here to witness my earnings going to important causes, but this is how I'll have the largest impact that I possibly can in terms of doing a social good. Not by doing what I'm passionate about, but instead by doing what I'm good at.

Identify what you want to do with your life, then figure out how you're going to accomplish that by doing what you're best at. Your life can have almost any kind of impact on this world that you want. It's not limited to the scope of your profession, and the size of your impact is limited only by how hard you're willing to work.

I dont know If I am in your shoes but I am in a similar situation. I am lawyer and my father is a lawyer and the past 5 years my brain went to a lockdown, refusing to work , to make friends, to have a relationship. I tried to push myself through this by changing career since it was obvious I was not happy. It did not help.

Everybody was implying I was suffering from severe depression so I decided to visit a psychiatrist. I was diagnosed with dysthymia , a condition very diffirent to depression. It basically means, no motivation to do anything.

So I have been taking drugs, they did not help, however psychotherapy did help me. After a year I realized that my problem was and still is pressure , pressure from my family but also and mostly pressure from myself. It killed my fun and enjoyment , everything became a must do, and brain refused to work under these conditions.

Now with the help of psychiatrist , I try to relearn how to relax and enjoy the process, stop working hard and instead work easy and fun. It works but old habits die last. So it will take years till I am out of the woods but the last year I have been doing psychotherapy at least I see a steady improvement.

We are be taught that we are our brain , but this is simply not true, brain is whole another monster and if you dont take good care of it , it will kick your ass. I wanted to learn this the hard way and so here I am.

So there is hope dont despair, definetly see a psychiatrist and expert advice is always helpful. The rest is up to you , go find what makes you happy and do that, the rest will follow.

Grain of salt / what works for others won't work for you / etc.

Don't leap back to school without carefully vetting whatever program has caught your attention. A lot of hoop jumping, and a lot of curriculum that's a decade out of date (or more) out there these days. I've tried to go back a few times, and it's been a complete waste of time/money.

Read Pressfield's "The War of Art." It's cheap, it's short, and it's helpful. There are a few passages that don't quit hit home, but it does one thing really well. It gives you the kind of internal vocabulary you need to get out of the "I'll do it tomorrow" sort of procrastination. "Tomorrow" is really dangerous thinking when there's not an actual deadline. You'll be saying tomorrow for years at a time, without actually moving the needle.

Move the needle every day. Do -something- that counts as forward progress. Momentum goes a long way. Track what you're doing. "What gets measured gets improved" sort of thing.

Be honest with yourself. What have you done that makes you think you should be more than just another office peon? Put in the work. Stop wishing. Earn it.

"Read Pressfield's "The War of Art." It's cheap, it's short, and it's helpful. "Tomorrow" is really dangerous thinking when there's not an actual deadline. You'll be saying tomorrow for years at a time, without actually moving the needle."

+1 to all of this. The War of Art is excellent, as is the advice about "tomorrow".

I can tell you what not to do; I really mean this. Don't drink. At least not for a while.

It could lead to suicidal ideation. Then it's possibly a literal death spiral. You're depressed that you don't get anything done (hobbies, side project, etc). This makes you more depressed. You don't get anything done. This compounds the feelings of trapped/existential worthlessness. Eventually you might come really close to suicide. No booze.

This can't be upvoted enough. Drugs and alcohol are great, but they should be used to celebrate good times, not to overcome bad ones.

Anecdotal counterpoint: I was in a rut much like the OP, and took a half year off to explore psychedelic drugs, music festivals, and local art culture. A couple of good acid trips really reset my expectations on reality and gave me some much needed grounding.

With my newfound perspective, I took some professional risks that were extremely advantageous in the long run. I likely would not have seen the options, or have the fortitude to try them without a my sabbatical.

Never try this if you are depressed and looking for a quick-fix to your issues though. If you are bored, scared of change, or unsure how to make life choices, then I would suggest a good ole' high-dose acid trip in the woods.

Also, buy a cheap road bike and ride it 100 miles straight. Seriously, it will change your life.

Acid is a good bit different from drinking though. You won't get addicted.

Experiences differ on this point.

Tolerance builds so quickly that it literally won't work taken too close together. There aren't physical cravings either.

I feel that it could certainly be done too frequently, but it's very resistant to being addictive. I suspect it would be easier to get addicted to tylonal. I can't comment on other research chemicals, which are often sold under the label of LSD.

Alcohol is well-known to be addictive and has organizations such as alcoholics anonymous to get help.

Could you elaborate? I've been surrounded by regular drug users for at least a decade at this point, and I've see dependency/addiction to all sorts of drugs, including those that are often considered non-addictive. And that's not even counting addiction to gaming, food, sex, and so on.

I have not encountered a single case where someone appeared to be dependent on or addicted to acid. Sure, some people used it a little more than I'd consider healthy, but calling that an addiction or even a dependency would be stretching it.

You took a sabbatical/break. Highly recommended if an individual is feeling like op.

To an extent, you are correct. But my experience has been slightly different.

Having a major-ish depression once or twice a year is customary for me now. This happens no matter how good or bad things in life are going on: whether I'm working on something I really like near an infinity pool in Kuala Lumpur, or whether I'm out of client work and desperate.

Alcohol helps me get through that ("you should go to a shrink", anyone?), and then when this periodic depression is done, I'm back to enjoying the things I do.

With some occasional alcohol when I feel like it, or when dealing with legacy PHP code (no kidding).

One thing I also noticed is having a great, caring, friendly partner reduced my alcohol consumption—significantly.

Depression is unfortunately an active ingredient in my life. And I do agree with you that 'leaning into' the depression can be effective; I've often found that locking myself up at home, neglecting myself, and feeling openly and dramatically sorry for myself somehow made my situation improve much quicker than if I'd fought my depression.

But I've really changed my mind about using alcohol or any other mood-altering, addictive substance (which includes food for some!) to cope, especially when it is to cope with depression.

See, many people share exactly your experience until suddenly they don't.

After years of using alcohol within whatever boundaries they set for themselves, they lose their job and as a result of that they lose their partner. Or they lose their partner in a terrible way (death, cheating, etc.) and get stuck in the 'getting through it' drinking phase because there are no friends to drag them out. Or a close friend/relative dies + losing a job. Basically, too much 'crumbles' at once. This can happen to anyone.

As a result, both slowly and somehow suddenly, the boundaries move, things get worse, and it becomes all the harder to get unstuck. The coping mechanism is too effective and the way out too difficult.

If they're lucky, something happens to snap them out of it. But even if this does happen, it could take years and cost them a lot.

This is a very common story. Shockingly common, in my experience.

I've worked with homeless people, had a fair share of 'junkie friends' and a few close family members who were alcoholics. In the vast majority of cases I'd summarize their story as "I became comfortable with alcohol/pills/weed/etc. in my teens and twenties, then too many things went wrong at the same time, and now here I am years later either addicted or avoiding whatever I was hooked on entirely."

Of course there are probably plenty of people where this doesn't happen. I hope you're one of them. I don't think things are black and white, and perhaps for some people drugs are a good coping mechanism. But I've seen too much go wrong after years of things going right to not feel a desire to warn (not judge) people at least! Addiction's a bitch.

Excellent advice

This is a problem with living goal-oriented lives. We set out goals and by working towards those goals, we are paradoxically eroding the feeling of purpose, because what comes after the goal? Having finished a goal (finishing your major in business administration), you know how this feels.

Instead, find out what activity you can do every day, potentially for the rest of your life, that gives you meaning. For me it's eating lunch with my dad and going to the gym to meet friends and stay healthy. And reading and learning. These things don't sound profound, but they keep me happy about waking up every day.

Yes, this. As I've gotten older I've realized more and more that what you choose to spend your time on day in and day out that really shapes your happiness and who you are. If you're not enjoying/getting meaning out of the process you'll likely not get it out of the result

Goal-setting is not the problem. Incorrectly executed goal-setting is.

If you cannot answer why five times to a goal, then it is not a goal that is tied to the ultimate question of "Why do you live?"

This is a high standard to hold, and I do not expect people to hold this standard. But to start off with "this is the problem with goal-oriented life" sends a wrong message imho.

Feels familiar.

It's this rocket launch in super slow motion, the uphill battle of following the standard script.

Finish school, finish the university, get a job, work on the PhD, survive the lawsuit vs conscription army, finish the PhD, get a better job...

And suddenly you are in orbit. The last stage falls away, and there is freefall.

There is no next step, nothing left to do, no battles left to fight. Feels awesome, but gets old really fast. I lasted up there for about a year before hopping on a random plane and spending a couple months in South America, then slowly figuring out the things that are worth doing and things that aren't worth doing.

5 days a week job is not worth doing, it eats away your sanity. 3 days a week leaves much more time to work for projects of your own (or to come up with them). Projects are worth doing, you never guess in advance how they would play out, and the process is fun.

So, step one is to derail the current routine and get some thinking space outside it's constraints. Step two is to figure out what you like to do and how to be able to do it.

Not sure how well that would work for you - Russia is a cheap place to live and most existential stuff is free, so my situation is quite a bit privileged compared to what i heard about USA.

> We thought of life by analogy with a journey, a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at the end, and the thing was to get to that end, success or whatever it is, maybe heaven after you’re dead. But we missed the point the whole way along. It was a musical thing and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played.


Happiness, money, and love are great as a byproduct of effort, but destructive as the main goal.

Do you want to feel fulfilled or do you want to be happy? My money is on the former; for me this fulfillment comes from continually improving.

Focus on the process. The process of learning, of working, of talking, of exercising, of being... everything you do, do it just 2% better than last time. Try and be more of yourself and less of the someone you've thought (or were told) you should be.

Practical advice:

1. Don't go back to school; it's not a career advantage for most people anymore. You can learn more in practice than in study.

2. Find or create an active job—I mean physically active. Something hands-on.

3. Get enough sleep, enough exercise, and enough sun/Vitamin D (in order of importance); these plus a renewed focus on incremental improvements go hand-in-hand.

4. Don't be afraid to work less. Our culture is toxic with the obsession of "what do you do" and "how much do you make" questions upon meeting someone. The most fulfilled people I know start with "what do you enjoy most" or "what's your story?" Working less makes your answer to those questions more interesting.

5. Exercise gratitude. By this, I mean find something every day you are grateful for—this forces you to think creatively and to observe the small things. It's simple, but this has larger implications for seeing the 'big picture' and seizing opportunities you may otherwise miss.

> "how much do you make"

what culture is this?!

Sometimes people volunteer this information very early in the course of meeting. Maybe this is why...?

Many sub-cultures in America (and I assume elsewhere) involving highly competitive industries.

Undoubtedly, many will suggest traveling. I went traveling the world last year for 10 months, although I did not do so because I "had the blues". I did so because I found myself with no obligations and enough money to do so, so it would be a great time to do it.

I had a fantastic time, but now I am suffering from the blues, not before. I think of all the places I went to, and I simply cannot stand to be at work. What am I doing here? Another trip?

If you are an American (can never tell on HN), then you may define yourself by your job and profession. Treat your job as a paycheck and define yourself by what you do in your free time. Of course, doing what you love is important, but most people do not have that luxury. Many here on HN will disagree. Simply get the job that sucks less, has a good work balance, and enjoy the other 16 hours of the day. Try living overseas with the culture is not as work focused.

Going to a 3rd world country opens your eyes to how 'free' we are.

In Bali you could just go and buy some stuff, set up a stall and sell it. Make some cash. Try that in the UK.

Best thing is to go volunteer in an African school. Cheap to get there, you do something amazing while you are there. And it'll change your life in a good way.

Honestly, after spending a bit of time in Africa, they really do not need more unskilled volunteers, but money to employ locals to do the same job. Locals should be educated and then go on ahead to teach the next generation.

I did meet several skilled volunteers (doctors, finance directors) that are bringing knowledge to areas that are severely lacking. Construction of solar powered resources is popular.

I would say the answer is to read profound books, and then move. I was in a situation where I drank continuously for several years because I was stuck in a dead-end job in a dead-end town. The real thing to do is 2-fold:

1) figure out what the big story is, not the piddly immediate stuff; watch Michael Wood histories, read Carl Sagan, read Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything". Get interested in hobbies that will link you with NATURE and the universe at large. Examples might be SURFING, HIKING, ASTRONOMY, GEOLOGY, FIELD_BIOLOGY. These are important because it snaps you out of the anthropocentrism that the myth of culture forces on us. You MUST snap out of the delusional narrative society forces upon you in order to _really_ make sense of your life. This means that you must read enough and collect enough data to weave your own narrative to replace the off-the-shelf one most people use. There are no easy versions of this. You must do it yourself for it to work, and so that you can attain true mental and spiritual freedom. I am not suggesting that you should become some out of touch hippy, but instead gain a broader perspective. You can still go into business. Your widened perspective will actually aid you instead of making things more difficult for you. Steve Jobs for instance, went to India in the late 1970s seeking audience with a famed Guru. It's a good strategy. Better than being a drone.

2) Move!! Firstly, plan your move; consider your options carefully. While you are researching, save up your money. There are a few places left in the U.S. (I refuse to say which. It should be pretty obvious once you look) and in the world where people are not totally congested in against one-another, where people do not abuse consumerism and become flatulated and obese, where soulless corporatism does not rule the minds and hearts of the local residents. I won't tell you where they are, because frankly, I don't want anyone to move there and ruin the tiny enclaves of peacefulness that are left. Besides, you have to find them for yourself for it to work. Some people are mountain people; some people are ocean people. You decide which one is for you.

I'm 27, have had a great job for three years and very recently dropped into this weird "stuck" state that feels similar to what you're describing. I feel like a robot that gets up every day, goes to work, goes to bed, repeats.

I don't think the answer is the same for everyone, but my best times have been when I was helping someone accomplish their dream company/project/etc. Self-employment wasn't fulfilling for me in the way I had hoped, but sticking with someone who has a great vision for something and being their support really helped me to feel momentum for myself. Doesn't matter if I was making lots of money, or just following the project and offering my opinion when asked.

My advice would be to seek out an opportunity, however small, to find something that has meaning and momentum. Mentally put your office work on autopilot, use your energy on the nights and weekends to find interesting people and offer your unique perspective on what they're doing. I'm not out of the woods yet, so take my advice (and all the other posters') with a grain of salt. Hope this helps. Let us know how it goes.

Edit: The thoughts Derek posts over at sivers.org have been very inspirational to me as well. He'll even answer your email if you ask him some questions.

Here is what I've got for you. Maybe together we'll have four cents:

Sounds like you need to set some goals. In school you had them - they were to get to here. Now its time to take stock and set some new ones. Then you'll know where you're going and you won't be lost.

For what its worth, here is my mission statement:

At home, my wife, kids, friends and family will know they are loved and will see it through my actions. At work, I will dazzle and always provide something useful. For myself, I will invest the time and energy to keep myself present, content, and healthy.

That's a great mission statement, and it's not too lofty to be impossible to attain.

I did go through this when I got my first degree. I graduated with a degree in writing and prepared to become a journalist and it was like the whole thing turned to ash in my mouth. I just didn't want it anymore. I couldn't even write anymore, and to this day, about 10 years later, I still don't write much even though it was a hobby of mine from a young age.

The best solution I can offer you is to wait. Find a hustle (job you don't mind doing that makes enough money for you) and let yourself recover a bit until a new plan / opportunity emerges. For me, I got a job working as a bar tender for a few years, then one day decided I couldn't wait on people any more and I didn't want to be poor anymore. Enrolled in my local college for Electrical Engineering and plowed my new path. But it took ~3 years for me to be ready to do that. I had suffered a fairly crushing defeat and needed time to recover and let a new plan gestate.

Be patient, and ignore the voice in your head that worries about how old you are and how so many other people seem to have their course charted well before you.

First check if you treat yourself like a machine or an animal, that needs maintenance. You can search for similar threads here, you will always find the typical answers: Enough sleep? Good food? Exercise? Social interaction?

Once you have all that covered I would take a step back and get some vacation. You seem to already have an idea what you want to do, so that is good. Maybe try to specify it a bit more and lay out the steps to get there.

One of these steps could be going back to school. If you are not sure whether you want to take a step, I would go like this:

1. List alternatives

2. Order by likelihood of success

3. Take first you think you can do and still stay sane. You have to know yourself whether or not you are a person that can take on debt and likes to go to school.

> First check if you treat yourself like a machine or an animal, that needs maintenance. You can search for similar threads here, you will always find the typical answers: Enough sleep? Good food? Exercise? Social interaction?

Oddly enough treating myself like a machine allowed me to actually take control of my life and improve many aspects of it. If anyone is curious, I just took all my bad habits and turned them into sleep & physical activity and made them my new habits.

^^ This

Life is a circle you feel lost then you find your way, only to find its not your way, then you feel lost again, and it goes on till you die. Know this that you will never find any deep meaning to life, its all there it is to life. Its simple give happiness to others, be honest and just enjoy your time here doing things you want to do and then leave in peace. Be happy or not its immaterial, you can't be in one state for long anyway. We are all but a pale blue dot in the vastness of the sky. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_Blue_Dot

+1 most concise and accurate explanation of life so far

I think Vonnegut got it down even further: "I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different."

Yet he did more than fart around

I am 39. I feel this way every few years. I look back on the previous few years and realize that the ideas/goals that I had, I did not accomplish. I then start to look for new ways to accomplish them. I still have a 8-5 that I need to pay my bills.

So I start with the 1 hour a day idea. Goto work, come home, eat dinner with the family. Then I get 1 hour to do whatever I want. No interruptions.

Then, well, it is Friday, perhaps I can take my 1 hour and goto bed an hour later, now I have 2 hours.

Saturday and Sunday, maybe I can do 4 hours.

Oh, back to Monday - Thursday, 1 hour.

This makes me feel that: 1. maintaining my 8-5. Bills paid. Wife is happy. 2. I have time each and every day for my goals/ideas. Some more than others. 3. I am making forward progress. 4. I don't think about my 8-5 holding me back, because it isn't anymore.

What do I do during my time: 1. code 2. EDM 3. read about things that interest me.

When I was struggling years ago with an 8-5 that I hated but needed to keep. I bought a good pair of headphones and I used them everyday. I felt that it kept me motivated (I could pump though them any type of music I wanted, mood dependent) and it kept me a bit isolated from co-workers and I could just focus on work. Sometimes distractions cause you to be stressed because it increases the time it takes and therefor you feel behind in your day instead of on pace.

One last thought. Can you get some exercise? For me, if I can I just feel better.

Keep your chin up!

Honestly, i feel like your answer highlights the problem.

Compromising to the degree at which you can accept that you only get 1hr a day to yourself, is (to me) crazy. I am crazy too because I do the same thing.

It's hard to buy into the notion of working 8hrs and only getting 1hr for yourself, and then being ookay with that. It's a tough pill to swallow.

It is indeed a tough pill to swallow. For me, I have a bills and a family and I make that trade off to take care of them and still have time for my own agenda.

In regards to the OP, I was trying to demonstrate that you should start with that you can obtain and not make an irrational decision. I also read a tone of depression in the OP's post and the last thing I would want to tell them is "you are stuck, live with it." It's not true.

Thanks for sharing, it's nice that you found your peace and balance in life. Your “1 hour per day” approach is a great one and it looks like it has been proven to be successful by many people, because it's not the first time I read about something like this.

However, even if I personally have a big plan and that 1 hour per day, sometimes I just don't feel like doing anything at all but just purposelessly walking/biking or drinking alcohol. I guess that's the problem the author highlighted. It's not about accomplishing something, but not knowing what you actually want to accomplish in the first place, what to do next. When you know what to do, it's actually not that hard to find time for it, because you have a clear understanding and motivation, otherwise you're just getting caught in an everyday routine spending year after year burning out that limited time you have of your mediocre life.

Here's the secret: motivation only kicks in AFTER you start doing something. If you're waiting around for motivation to come out of the blue you'll be disappointed.

So just start doing something. Choose one that appeals to you: help another person, create something, build friendships. You've spent enough time improving yourself through education, now it's time to focus outwards and give back.

Second, structure. Set some recurring reminders for starting. In the past I have used a dark trick: I asked a friend to be my "demotivator". His job was to knock me off track. If I didn't meet my personal commitment on a given day I would pay him $50. It worked extremely well.

Strongly agree with the motivation bit.

On top of it I'd say don't just start working on something, but start on something small. A ridiculous number of inventions, science, and companies started out as solving some small problem or looking into one issue. If you start out trying to solve a Big Problem (TM), you will get overwhelmed. Don't be fooled by revisionists histories where people try to pretend like they had some grand mission from the start.

A lot of young people have this feeling that they need to do something important, but they feel overwhelmed. Then they end up doing lame stuff like getting tattoos, funky haircuts, or weird clothes in an attempt to be unique. Hint: If you can buy it or pay someone to do it, it is neither unique nor a true expression of yourself. There is no shortcut.

Start working on something (anything!) to delight yourself. Then try to delight one other person. Grow from there.

Cannot agree more. Every time you do something (a habit, like exercise or reading), it gets easier to do that same thing the next day.

Save yourself the trouble and time by jumping into positive feedback loops.

This video about worry also saved me from self-destruction at an opportune time; hope it does for you.

FightMediocrity on How to Stop Worrying and Start Living: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4UYYzbzGk6s

I also like setting up systems that make sense, over juicing out more willpower. The Five Minute Journal and the Productivity Planner have been incredibly helpful systems in my life. The $50 or so was easily worth ten thousand dollars for me.

The Five Minute Journal: https://www.intelligentchange.com/products/the-five-minute-j...

The Productivity Planner: https://www.intelligentchange.com/products/the-productivity-...

I would start by addressing why you say:

"I'd like to be something -- more than just an office person. More than just someone who works that 8-5 shift."

Why do you want to be "more" than that? For what purpose? The approval of others? Because somehow, you'd be a different person or "feel" different than you do now? Because somehow cube dwellers are lesser... and by what standard... public opinion?

I think this is part of the core of the issue you face and you need to come to terms with your motivations when saying such things.

Most people that are "something" more than average aren't actually trying to be accomplished, they're dedicated to a problem, a profession, or an avocation. Solving the problem, perfecting the skill are the goals and produce the satisfaction and are the source of self-esteem... the acclaim is merely a side effect and honestly not important.

Finding a good central purpose is key here. Something that you want to achieve without regard if anyone else cares: this is not necessarily a career pursuit either, and you can have more than one central purpose. The key though is that you have to care about... not anyone else. For some this is family, for some this is closing business deals, for others it's programming.

Seeking acclaim is not a good goal: I've had friends kill themselves for failing to achieve that when they made the approval of others the source of their self-esteem. When you make approval your goal you effectively refuse to judge what is worthwhile for yourself and outsource that to others; you stop thinking and wait for the thinking of others. You loose your independence and in the end, you become willing to compromise anything to keep the approval coming... regardless if that's good for you or not.

(Edited for clarity)

What I'd do? A few things, depending on whether you have any money left after finishing that 'business degree'. If you do, I'd find myself a small farm or even a plot of land to buy somewhere in the vicinity of, but not to close to a population centre. I'd divide my time between working on that farm - first (re)building a house, then - depending on the region you live in - growing some produce for your own consumption, for friends and neighbours, to brew beer, make bread, whatever. At the same time I'd try to find some work in my area of interest, something to keep (or bring) myself up to date within that field and to bring in some money. As living in this way is generally remarkably 'cheap' you don't need enormous amounts of money.

Do this for a few years, make sure to keep up to date within your field, keep connections within your field, don't become a hermit but also don't succumb to the urge to blindly follow the herd chasing degrees and money.

After a few years your outlook on what to do next will be a lot more developed. Maybe you'll decide to start out for yourself in your field? Maybe you'll move abroad? Maybe you'll become a full-time homesteader? A builder? You will be free to choose, not burdened with that loan (that is, not any more than you're already burdened with it). Plus, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing to be self-reliant, able to bake your own bread, brew your own beer, repair your own house. When things go bump in the night you won't crawl under the bed with a phone to call 911 and wait for the police which might - or might not - show up. You'll go outside to see what made that noise.

If you don't have any money to get that plot or small farm I'd find myself a job which pays enough to be able to buy it in a few years of hard work and frugal living.

The major takeaway is to become self-reliant, less dependent on what other people think of you. Be social when you want to, not when the situation dictates you should be. Be 'real'. Don't act. Use your head, speak your mind, cut the crap. It's your life, you get to decide how to live it.

This is trivial compared to lots of good advice here, but I've benefited in stuck times by cutting my hair. Of course, alone, this doesn't do much, but sometimes that moment in the mirror with someone looking slightly different-- it helps me lock-in a course correction just a bit.

My favorite thing to do when i don't know what to do is drink water.

30 years old here. Not a grad, but been working for a long ass time. Been through burn-out. Now I manage a team and my sole goal as a manager is to make sure people are feeling good and happy as that leads to consistent productivity.

Also relevant is the fact that up until recently (call it 8 months ago), I would have mood swings and go through periods of depression as well.

Then I started exercising regularly. And I cannot be clear or emphatic enough in this but as someone who uses drugs for mood alteration; who is intelligent; who has a good career and is well respected; and who ultimately had no other legitimate reason to feel depressive emotions, since getting into a regular exercise routine, I've never felt more stable, positive and motivated in my life.

Our bodies are designed to move. For me, it's plainly clear that the sedentary lifestyle is what was at the root of my emotional issues.

I'm not saying you need to be a body builder or run a marathon. I do 15 minute runs and moderate weights and meditation. I swear, it is night and day.

As a secondary suggestion which has also been extremely helpful and beneficial, I'd recommend reading up on psychology, biases, and neuroplasticity. The most impacting book I've ever read is "The Brain That Changes Itself" by Norman Doidge. This book will give you a scientific/real basis of understanding how your brain works; how your habits form and are re-enforced, and how you can take control of these processes to literally shape your own reality into whatever you want. Super powerful stuff. I've bought probably 15 copies of this book for friends and relatives. Highly, highly recommended.

Good luck!

Doing really quick runs (5 minutes actually) helped me get started running. From there you can go up to 10, 15 minutes.

Bought the book, also. An interesting thing to keep in mind is that we are products of both nature and environment then we can change ourselves at least partially by changing our environment - moving, new friends - and letting it change us.

Yes, I have felt the way you do. I feel like this for a few weeks, then go back to feeling a bit better and worth something. You are definitely not alone.

First, you should find a counselor, any counselor, and open up to her/him. Direct, immediate feedback from a professional "personal problem helper" will help you. You can stop reading here and act.

Now, on to my non-professional ideas that you should probably skip but my ego prevents me from omitting:

It sounds like you need goals like school gave you. Let's think about it. In school, you had short-term goals (assignments, next exam), mid-term goals (grades during a semester), and long-term goals (graduation, GPA). Our tech work is terrible at these things except at very small companies where there's too many obvious things to do, and very large companies where the career ladder is so defined that you just need to show up and follow simple instructions. In the middle lies the domain of the lost and the over-motivated. Choose your path.

If you choose to go back to school, you'll have these goals again, but you'll probably have the same problem and feelings again once you're done. Plus, you'll have more debt and thus more pressure to be "successful", which is probably counter-productive to your feelings.

Don't listen to people on the internet, including me. Nothing we say is true for you. Try to take a general consensus and make your own decisions with that input. There's wisdom in every comment above and below, but it's shaded by bias, experience, and fallacies that are not your own.

Please, seek help. Don't waste any more time trying to deal with this by yourself in your own head until you've been given a proven pattern for doing so by a professional. Visit them with an open mind and few expectations and be more frank and honest than you ever have before. You'll move whether you want to or not. It's up to you to choose the direction.

Be well, do good.


My favorite quote from a Dennis Leary standup and I think his best recorded routine.

“Happiness comes in small doses folks. It's a cigarette butt, or a chocolate chip cookie or a five second orgasm. You come, you smoke the butt you eat the cookie you go to sleep wake up and go back to fucking work the next morning, THAT'S IT! End of fucking list! ”


I guess he's saying it's the little things.

I'm feeling the exact way after having been told indirectly that the path I have undertaken this year was a waste of time for the company I work at. (Branching out from my job description and taking more tasks)

This made me take a look at the job market and now I feel like I have a lot of doors open to me where I would otherwise be too scared/comfortable to leave.

The dread and anger, the feeling of being stuck, they all turned into excitement.

I feel ya. I became a doctor after many years of "following the path to glory", but then became very depressed and felt my life suddenly became too defined. My life had lost all of its magic. I finished residency just for the money, as I had nothing else in mind to do. Then I lived with my mother for 2 years, drinking too much and doing nothing much other than teaching 8 hours a week at the local community college to be able to pay my bills.

Then I decided "what the fuck, screw medicine", and decided to do something radically different. So now I own an escape room business, and every day I hit the ground running and eager. It's struggling a bit, and might not survive. But at the moment I'm living my life for myself, so I'm willing to take the bad with the good.

Good luck!

Did you ever consider being a sort of traveling physician to underserved people? I always imagined this as the adventurous route for doctors.

This is known as being a locum physician. I know some young doctors choose to do this for a while because of the experience they gain from the added responsibilities that come with an isolated location.

It's not like doctors without borders, is it?

I graduated with a BS in physics minor in mathematics, in 2009. Then did nothing for almost 3 years. I've been a stock boy at target for the last 4 now. Going back to school next month because I have the money and no particular idea what else to do.

So I don't really have advice except maybe: save as much money as you can for a little bit, see if that money starts looking like something: a trip, an early retirement, school, a side project.

Beyond that go get screened for depression. See about counseling. I just recently (~two weeks) got on citalopram because I'm trying to make this go around of school a bit more productive. I don't know if it's helping yet but that just goes to show how ludicrously mild we've gotten antidepressants now.

I was on citalopram for a while, I can speak to the feeling of "is this thing doing anything?" After a couple months I noticed that my emotions felt bounded...I felt highs and lows, but the differences between the two were much less pronounced than previously. I felt...robotic after a while? Like I was going through my day on autopilot, but hey I was getting things done and didn't feel like killing myself on the regular. For me, one of the most pronounced side effects was a significant dampening on my libido; if you've got a partner or wish to maintain an active sex life consider working with your medical professional to find an alternative SSRI.

Give it time, and best of luck to you on your journey.

Yeah that libido thing was mentioned and the nurse practitioner that prescribed it sounded very willing to switch to something else if it was a problem, this was just what she felt was first line (well actually it was going to be welbutrin but she didn't like my blood pressure).

That said... I'm one of those people that just has lows, and I'm not sexually active so I'm willing to give this a shot for a while.

A book that helped me in my life when I had similar questions is [Think on These Things by Jiddu Krishnamurti][1], warmly recommended.

From the first chapter, The Function of Education:

> I WONDER IF we have ever asked ourselves what education means. Why do we go to school, why do we learn various subjects, why do we pass examinations and compete with each other for better grades? What does this so-called education mean, and what is it all about? This is really a very important question, not only for the students, but also for the parents, for the teachers, and for everyone who loves this earth. Why do we go through the struggle to be educated? Is it merely in order to pass some examinations and get a job? Or is it the function of education to prepare us while we are young to understand the whole process of life? Having a job and earning one's livelihood is necessary - but is that all? Are we being educated only for that? Surely, life is not merely a job, an occupation; life is something extraordinarily wide and profound, it is a great mystery, a vast realm in which we function as human beings. If we merely prepare ourselves to earn a livelihood, we shall miss the whole point of life; and to understand life is much more important than merely to prepare for examinations and become very proficient in mathematics, physics, or what you will.

[1]: https://books.google.com/books?id=IsldnzHkxpsC&printsec=fron...

I'd say:

* Almost everyone feels like this at some time. Don't worry that you're alone.

* Focus on small things. Get a little thing done every day, mark it off, celebrate that victory in a way that makes sense for you. Keep a list of the stuff you've done. It's very helpful to look back and say, "I applied for these two jobs, and I read this book, and I went on a hike with my mate."

* It's okay to not have it figured out. It's also okay to shift goals. Lots of people say, "I want to travel the world," and find out it's lonely or disconcerting when you don't speak the language; or, "I want to sail across the Atlantic," until they see their first small squall off the coast. It's okay to have a goal, try something and decide, "you know what, that's not for me."

* Don't feel like a failure if you don't fit someone else's mold. For example, if your parents wanted you to have a certain degree, or you listen to the HN echo-chamber of "startups or GTFO, LOSER!" Don't let someone else tell you who to be. It's hard enough to figure it out, it's worse when you listen to them and figure out it wasn't right at all.

* Get plenty of sleep, get plenty of exercise, eat well.

* Keep talking to others. It will help you figure it out. Listen to what you're saying more than you listen to what they're saying to you. You, LITERALLY, will be telling them what you should do to improve your situation. Once you figure it out, you'll be able to work on the first steps.

Good luck.

If I were in your shoes, I'd find something I'm passionate about and build a business around it, especially with your knowledge of business administration. At 29 you've reached your prime :). I wouldn't go back to school and get more student loan debt because I could learn whatever I want for free from Kahn academy, or from all the videos put on line by Stanford and MIT, and I wouldn't work for peanuts in somebody else's office, but might consider an offer with a lot of equity. (Sorry for my dumb opinions. I'm just hoping to keep this thread alive long enough for someone smarter than me to join in.)

I'm 37. I've felt that way in the past. I've felt that way recently. I've had successes and I've had failures. Most people don't wake up and say "I've made it", if you are looking for that, it rarely comes. I agree here, except with less concentration on "build a business around it". Find something you are passionate about and build the hell out of it (software, pizza, wood product). Don't build it for other people build it for yourself and become the best at it. I've failed at businesses that I thought were completely earth-shattering ideas, I've succeeded at businesses where people wanted the product and it was painfully obvious because they were already buying the product elsewhere.

I felt that way when I started my first job after a master of IT. I was meat sold to companies, I didn't have leadership because I was a total junior, and I didn't have weight to negotiate.

For the next 10 years, I have remained quite depressed. I have done many cool things [1]. The core of the problem is understanding that, as opposed to nice stories we study, we've understood that those startups don't "change humanity", and 99.9% of us, despite excellent curriculum, will never have the leverage to do what Elon Musk is doing.

As The Doc says: "I'll focus on the other great mystery of Humanity: Women". Don't take it literally, but he means that getting a significant other, becoming meaningful to the people around you, while keeping your health, developing your wealth and casting your ethic and your culture: That's what life is about. The job is only a part of that.

So go find the best job you can, and exercise a little every day to become the best at it. Meanwhile find friends. Develop a network, across the globe, but also in your country, and in your city, through all layers of population. One day visit your local detention center with the family of an inmate, another day set up the Internet for an elderly person. Offer big presents and organize things for your nieces. You'll be a cog like you would have been if you focused only on work, but you'll be a leader in your community.

[1] I stayed 8 months in my first country, came back for a job at home where I stayed 2.75 years, left for backpacking in Australia, 6 months, +2.5 years in an awesome job over there. Came back and created my product, became self employed. People now look up at me and ask me for advice. But it's not a secret that I'be been depressed all along the way.

Welcome to your Saturn Return. While its a random astrology term, alot of us feel exactly the same way at the later end of 20s. Time to break the routine and reinvent yourself. Things that worked for me: * solo travel. Helps to break the envelope and find awe-inspiring things. working out - your body is your amusement park, and working out unleashes the feel-good chemistry. Improves your mental state. seeking our and spend time with people that inspire you. Nothing motivates mere then success stories of people youre with. networking - the world is built by people and you cant build one by yourself. reading in depth - know something in depth. Pro's are appreciated in any domain.

Going to school could help to get credentials if youre switching fields. But you can also get credentials by doing something.

I apologiee for sounding self-helpy and generic. Just my 2c.

I've felt this way.

When you are in school you are given a reward structure to work within, and there is a definite end goal.

Now you are in an open ended situation with no set goal. The transition between the two can be jarring.

I think it might be time to just experiment and try a few things that interest you. Write an ebook, travel, code up an app, whatever appeals to you.

Sometimes we just need to wander a bit before finding our way. Every hero's quest has a period of wandering aimlessly in the wilderness before finding a worthy goal.

Don't just look for something to do, look for the right people to do it with. Choose those people carefully. Especially leave behind people that aren't right for you.

Later, after you've lived a satisfying life and look back, you'll see that all the pieces of that life were there in this very moment. You just can't see them now, but they will come together.

Trust in that, and don't worry too much.

[edit: more advice...]

I'd lean toward _not_ going back to school unless you are very confident that 1) you are passionate about a career in X and 2) some time researching/talking to people in career X shows that you would really need to go back to school to do X.

Yes, what you are feeling is common. Some specific advice:

- Don't dwell on it. Let these feelings be annoying and motivation to do something else, but don't let them control you or steer you toward self-destructive behavior or bad decisions (ie lots of debt, drugs/alcohol/etc).

- Do try to move up and out of the funk by working toward a career that you enjoy at least some of the time (there is no perfect job).

- Look for things that you _enjoy_, are _good at_, and _could envision making money doing_. If you already have ideas, pursue them. Even if it's writing a book or doing a training video, blog etc. on the side for now, try. You'll fail at some of it, but some will stick and you'll be started earning an income at something you enjoy.

- If you don't have any ideas, try a bunch of small things and see what sticks. Volunteer at a hospital or food bank or Habitat build. Take a community or online class in web design, art, language, etc. Talk to people in detail about their careers and read about them.

- Make a list of things you try and ideas and rate them by how much you like them. Once you have a list, rate them by how likely it would be to earn an income. That should narrow to a few things you both _could become good at_ and _can earn an income_ doing. Be realistic, but optimistic about both "good at" and "earn an income".

While most of that is about a career, and that is the gist of your question, it's not all about career:

- Find a cheap hobby (hiking, fishing, sketching, etc) and dedicate some time to it.

- Help other people. Volunteer, tutor, or just randomly do charity.

- Find group(s) of people to belong to. A church, civic club, hobby club, etc.

Once you have your potential career, hobby, and volunteering ideas listed, put next steps for them on a calendar a week or a month at a time. Then stick to the calendar. You will have a full life, be helping others, and be working toward something you enjoy.

I find the best thing for me is to consume. Consume everything- books, movies, scientific articles, news articles, things you haven't heard of before, obscure channels. When I find myself lost it's really that I am searching, and I need something to stand on- an idea, a book, a character, or an individual that is truly invested in what they are doing.

I fully subscribe to the idea that you have to consume things that make you think to create anything, and the only way you're going to be able to do anything interesting to fuel your own fire is to create. It can be a self-improvement, an actual thing, a societal group, or write a book- but you have to consume enough to know what you even could do.

You have to consume to develop enough taste to reject the inevitable 10 bad attempts at creation for every good one, as well as to gather a community for feedback.

I appreciate your honesty. I believe you feel this way because you have an accurate view of reality. Many of us are constantly fighting to ignore this truth; trying to distract ourselves. The Bible says that "God has set eternity in the human heart." We all naturally long for something of meaning that doesn't pass away.

If you aren't open to believing in God at this point in your life, I could suggest that you focus on investing in those around you. That's an easy way to take the pressure off yourself for having to live in a meaningful life. "A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed." Proverbs 11:25

Do not go back to university. Focus on gaining a skill, one that allows you to add value and solve problems for people. I'd much rather be able to fix your AC than do your HR compliance.

Unfortunately in America, working on your own is problematic due to disastrous health insurance system, and low wages for labor, and small business being unable to compete with multinational giants. This pushes people to seek comfort of corporations unless they're able to raise funds to start a business.

Trust your ancestry. People were either farmers or artisans until very recently. I think working in a corporate setting is swimming upstream for all but a certain type of personality.

Hey! You are not alone. In cases like this, when you feel you have lost track remember... Lewis Carrol once said "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there." So breathe and try new things. Go to the library, watch a movie, visit a museum, join a book club... Just be curious in places you have never been but you are interested in. There is so much in life and things to do that you'll be blown away. Trust me, serendipity will come and you'll remember that you are alive, free and ready to explore and enjoy. I send you lots and lots of love, baby. Everything will be OK. I promise.

I'd climb rocks and find Jesus. In the opposite order, but that sounds less poetic :P Either way, I vouch for both and if you want to know more about either, get in touch. If moderate success doesn't equal moderate happiness then is our whole societal model of success equals happiness broken? I think so. Love, -Daniel

The only way I'd ever be likely to find Jesus is if I fell off the rock for about 3s (depending on height).

That and when I hit my thumb with a hammer since screaming "Random fluctuations in the space time continumn damnit that hurt" just doesn't have the same feeling.

noir_lord, if you're happy, then great. Just don't dig too far into your existentialism or in my opinion you'll end up disappointed and confused with the circularity of the reasoning. I hope sometime you say to yourself "No, really, what is the actual point??? If the answer is REALLY nothing but random fluctuations in the space time continuum then I don't understand why we don't just all slit our wrists together. But life goes on, and mass suicide hasn't happened, which I find inconsistant with your line of reasoning. That said, I'm sure OP appreciates your input "Everything is meaningless, you should feel lost and helpless cause it's the truth!"

I look at it the other way, I find it reassuring that the universe doesn't give a shit about us, I'd find the various Gods posited over the years a lot more frightening if they actually existed.

In that sense I'm happier in a universe without a higher power, I also get to appreciate all the beauty there is in the universe for a brief period of time and that to me is enough in and off itself.

I think a lot of the reason people believe in religion is fear of nothingingness or an inability to accept that in the grand scheme of things they simply don't matter, basically it's a substitute for having to face death.

The way I look at that is I didn't exist before 1980 and that didn't hurt.. and I fully expect to not exist sometime between now and 2060, the universe was around before me and will be around after me and that's pleasing, given the spectacular chain of events that had to happen in sequence over billions of years for me to have existed at all how could I not.

In 1668 Francesco Redi disproved the theory that flies spontaneously generated from rotting meat, a theory originally proposed by Aristotle. Since that time, popular science has just shifted that theory farther and farther away from the common era. When carefully and objectively observed, rotting meat does not emit maggots, but since nobody around to observe meat, matter, molecules or atoms billions of years ago... we can just squint at the farthest reaches of the timeline and infer from the fuzziness that life must have spontaneously generated...right? God is very scary and mean when he is misunderstood, we can agree on that. You speak of beauty as an objective(even if relative) truth but deny the concept of objective truths. You have an innate respect for continuation and survival, but deny the order and purpose necessary to create and sustain that framework. I'm sure you'd profess Newton's laws of motion, but you deny them in your lack of theory of existence. I'm not trying to be demeaning, I'm trying to leave no room for anything but a yes or no answer in your mind. If you don't want to break it down to that, then cheers to a good life my friend.

God isn't scary since he doesn't exist, The things people who believe in God do are scary but then the things people who don't believe in God do are also scary - or to be blunt I fear the People who believe in a God a lot more than the God they believe in since I have evidence for the former.

There is no evidence of God in any of the ways that any of the religious texts describe (and not in any way they don't describe but that's a different subject), that we don't understand the process behind something doesn't mean we just insert "God did it" and stop questioning, your central argument is what is called the "God of the Gaps" argument https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_of_the_gaps and it's notable that over the last millenia those gaps get smaller and more distant in both time and space - we are a long way from angry Gods every time it Thunders and Scarab beetles pushing the Sun across the sky in some ways and apparently no further than we ever where in others, now it's possible there might be things we can never know (there is no reason to presuppose that we can learn everything there is to be learned) but that still doesn't mean we can just insert "Because God" or to put it another way, your claim that God created life has exactly as much merit as my contention that a purple stuffed elephant called Terrence did it since after all it's not on Atheists to prove God doesn't exist, it's on the Religious to prove that he does.

Now this entire debate is pointless since your faith in God requires no evidence (if there was evidence it wouldn't be faith) and my refusal to believe in God (or Gods) is because there is no evidence (or to paraphrase one of my heroes - "That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence") so we reach a natural stopping point in this debate...unless you have empirical proof for the existence of God?.

Ah, no. I must have not made myself clear somewhere. God of the gaps philosophy is mirrored by modern science as a sort of "Nothingness blob of the gaps". Its the same type of thing though: If we haven't figured out how it works, then its some random nothingness blob that happened to...even though that is not how it behaves naturally...blah blah blah (Like flies on meat). Basically just listen for when NDeT almost lets his words hum out of his mouth, he's trying to dramatize his words so you get caught up in the majesty of the things he's describing instead of questioning them. So if God of the gaps is so bad, its comical that Nothingness blob of the gaps passes your rigorous critical analysis. I believe in the Bible , not "God of the gaps" or the "Nothingness blob"

I gave up these arguments since none of the two will change his mind ever.

Probably wise!

As the late Christopher Welch said,

Do not go back to college!

Don't! Do not do that. Go work at Burger King. Go into the woods and forage for nuts and berries. Do not go back to college!

To seek fulfilment is to invite frustration. There is no fulfilment of the self, but only the strengthening of the self through possessing what it craves for. Possession, at whatever level, makes the self feel potent, rich, active, and this sensation is called fulfilment; but as with all sensations, it soon fades, to be replaced by yet another gratification. We are all familiar with this process of replacement or substitution, and it is a game with which most of us are content. There are some, however, who desire a more enduring gratification, one that will last for the whole of one's life; and having found it, they hope never to be disturbed again. But there is a constant, unconscious fear of disturbance, and subtle forms of resistance are cultivated behind which the mind takes shelter; and so the fear of death is inevitable. Fulfilment and the fear of death are the two sides of one process: the strengthening of the self. After all, fulfilment is complete identification with something - with children, with property, with ideas. Children and property are rather risky, but ideas offer greater safety and security. Words, which are ideas and memories, with their sensations, become important; and fulfilment or completeness then becomes the word.


So.. I guess start identifying yourself strongly with something. What that something is not very relevant, cast a dice and see what sticks.

>So.. I guess start identifying yourself strongly with something. What that something is not very relevant, cast a dice and see what sticks.

Nope, that's not what Krishnamurti's pointing to. He's pointing to the problem with identifying with anything -- objects, ideas, personalities, character. That this identifying strengthens the sense of self, which leads to a fear (of death, death of the sense of self).

Just offering my words on the subject. Read him and make your own interpretation. Better yet, inquire upon your own experience and form your own understanding.

the solution is mine not Krishnamurthy's

I'm just coming out of a long period of "stuckness." I work in software development, but definitely feel the way you feel about my work.

For me, the lack of autonomy and freedom and everything that comes along with having a normal job feels repressive. I was an artist and musician, and I gave up, because "there's no money in it." Now I make money, but I'm sad.

I came to my wit's end. This week, I started writing on Medium. I write one story a day. I get up at 6AM, pound out a thousand words, and publish. I also started going to the gym.

I can tell you that this has made a world of difference. I feel like I have a little bit of control over something. My job isn't the only important thing about me. I'm a writer now. I will never tell anyone, "I'm a software developer." I will say, "I am a writer."

I've also started having more, and better ideas. I think that writing and having ideas can open up the whole world to us. Time will tell.

Eventually, I'd like to become self-sufficient and fire my employer.

I think if you begin to do something that stimulates you every day, you will feel less stuck. It needs to be something that you do for yourself, and only for yourself. Maybe you can take your lunch-break every day for a few weeks, and write a bunch of business ideas down. Or maybe you can compile a reading list of books that you are interested in, and read one a week.

I think if you try it, opportunities will present themselves.

Of course, advice is worth what you pay for it, but this is what works for me.

What ever you do, remember to eat and sleep well and exercise. You may do those already, but those are lowest building blocks of mental health and are kinda the most obvious actionable answers to your question.

Just pointing those out because they are what I neglect occasionally when feeling down and end up feeling ever more miserable.

Folllowing our intrinsic motivations is usually very pleasurable. Perhaps there is some hobby you enjoyed that you've not done in a while?

"This" is what life is - and no one owns your life except you. Dreaming of having a ferrari is a stupid dream. Rich peoples lives are potentially just as hollow as median income ones. The only thing I'm aware to bring people joy constantly is being able to follow ones intrinsic motivations. You don't need to be 'something' to be happy - just you, and being able to be you. If you feel there is nothing pleasurable in life you may have a depressive period. Usually these pass - without medication. Note: it's quite common to have a slight depressin after achieving a major life goal. After getting my MSc I felt empty and dissatified - and am quite content now.

I didn't real every comment - there are many. But here is my opinion: This is pretty common in the late 20's. Lots of changes, then suddenly, it is the same thing every day. I am about 10 years older, and my life has completely changed since then, part luck and part my own choices. My advice: 1. You aren't your job. Concentrate on something other than work. Have a truthful answer to "what do you do?" that isn't work. I'm an artist, but the pay is terrible, so I gotta make money other ways. What do you do? 2. But I understand the job has a big impact. Take an honest look. Do you actually hate the work? Is it tolerable? Stressful? Boring? Or are you simply coming to terms that your dreams that you worked towards haven't quite come? There isn't much to do about the last, but all the rest are fixable. You have a flexible degree, and you can use it in different industries. Schools, retail, and so on. If you are actually unhappy, see how far you can use that degree you have. 3. If you are in a relationship, decide if you are happy in it. If not, make changes. They don't have to be extreme changes. This might be more true if you've been in a relationship for many years, as both of you have probably changed since your early 20's. 4. If you are single or do not have children, start getting out of the house regularly. It is difficult, but worth it. This isn't bad advice with children, just harder, and possibly easier if you involve a child or children in this case. 5. If you have a weird thought that you might be depressed or anxious, get this checked. Or if this doesn't seem to lift after some time and action - or if action seems to be too much - get checked. It won't take care of your problems, but it will make it much more likely that you'll be able to take the action necessary to do them and get yourself un-stuck.

This is a hard question and I don't think any advice written here can help you more than just by pure chance. What you are describing can have a lot of different reasons and needs a lot of different reactions.

My usual approach for friends and family, who are in a situation like that, is to talk to them and trying to push them towards different possible directions. While doing this I get a feeling what they feel comfortable with and are interested in. Often people need those kind of pushes themselves. Our intuition works great, when we walk in a directions and tells us if that is something we're actually interested in. Once we have all opportunities at once, it often is just too much for it and our intuition doesn't give any feedback if we're actually interested in achieving that goal or not.

If you re interested I can take some time to talk with you on skype. I think 1 or 2 hours could be quite interesting for both of us. I would also appreciate the challenge, as I usually do this with people I know for quite a bit already. :)

For what its worth, I felt this way when I was 28. I ended up leaving a very good job to start a very small business. Although its a tiny niche business, it ended up providing an amazing life for me and my family. I am 42 now (yikes!).

When I was 28, I had a specific dream (starting a business) but was afraid of the risk. In your case, its not clear to me if you have a dream but don't know how to get there, or if you wish you had a big dream, but aren't sure what it would be. My advice applies more to the former than the latter.

My advice would be:

1. If you are really dissatisfied with your job, look for a way to shake things up. I left my good job to go to business school, then quit after a few months when I realized I'd learn more by trying to start a business. Business school wasn't the answer, but I wouldn't have quit the job directly, so it facilitated things. Its hard to know in advance what will work, but if you are stuck, try something new.

2. Keep your eyes open for opportunities. The business I started was related to experience and contacts from my previous employer.

3. As soon as possible is the best time to take risks and make changes. It won't be any easier to take risks as you add in more responsibilities (house, kids, etc).

4. Do your best at whatever you are doing, but don't worry too much if your plans don't work out exactly as you thought. I thought I wanted to be an industry titan. That was not in the cards. However, once I had kids, it turned out what I wanted was a really flexible schedule. In retrospect, if I was an industry titan, I suspect I would be looking for the exit (actually, given my skill set, I probably would have been shown the exit).

I obviously don't know you, or much about you. But in my case, shaking things up to pursue my dream really worked out well, FWIW.

Welcome to your 30's. I don't mean that to be dismissive, but more to tell you that feeling the way you do is completely normal and has happened to just about everyone I know.

Most of my life I felt like I was doing all the right things, but really I was following a script that society had laid out. Do well in school, get a good job, be successful, etc. Follow your dream! Achieve your goals! The problem was that these things I've achieved wouldn't have been my goals outside of societal influence. Rather, they're appealing because of the money, respect, and security that's afforded by my having achieved them. Left to my own devices, I'd probably be a surfing or snowboarding bum with an interest in math and music.

Now, society gives us a recipe for money, stability and respect. But that's not a recipe for happiness, nor was it ever intended to be. And that's not necessarily a bad thing...money, stability and respect are certainly not at odds with being happy. However, many of us spend much of our young lives trying to achieve financial and business goals without spending a minute of time thinking about achieving happiness. You're brand new to this!

I didn't abandon my existing career or anything like that, but I did start to question the societal script from square one; I accepted parts of it and abandoned others. And I got involved in some meetup groups and made more friends. Plenty of people feel exactly like you do. What if you all got together and talked about that, or did something about it? It works.

Last weekend I was in a short film made by a friend I met recently. Making a movie was never a goal of mine, but was my friend's dream. Helping make that happen was incredible and fun.

But don't go looking for movie-making friends, unless that really interests you. Look for friends. You'll probably get out as much or more than you put in.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs - a job fullfills the lower rungs of shelter and sustenance but does not necessarily entail the pleasure of self-actualization.

I'm 29 years old, I come from a CS background, I'm not religious and I've felt that way as well. Like most of us here.

Watching this course has helped me a great deal: "Personality and its transformations", by Jordan B. Peterson at University of Toronto. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL22J3VaeABQAhrMCQUa6s...

Here's a TEDx talk by the same professor that can serve as a glimpse of the course: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLteWutitFM

Not all of it is as scientifically rigorous as we are probably used to, but It's plenty of valuable insights very hard to find anywhere else. I can't begin to express my gratitude to that man.

I hope you find it as useful as it was to me, and I wish you well.

I watched about half of the first lecture, very interesting. What insights can one draw from these series of lectures? Depending on the insights, I'm trying to see if the time invested is personally worthwhile.

Currently I am pretty much in the same position. I am about your age, also about to finish my master in business. Can't provide a quick fix, sorry. I guess it has everything to do with "knowing yourself".

And I think it is all about the environment you find yourself in. Taking a not so full-filling job is nothing to worry about if you're surrounded by people who make your life worthwhile and/or help you to do something else in the long run. Being an isolated, merely self-sustaining cog in the wheel is what's terrifying.

Also, I have to say I find your language a bit odd. Even though I agree with your sentiment that working in an office is not a great prospect, your "more than just.."-bit sounds a bit unhealthy. I mean if office jobs aren't for you that's okay and if you happen to like them that's also okay. But why so judgmental?

A few thoughts immediately came to mind in regards to your post.

1. You are intelligent. (you finished your degree, considered several options, you are not making a brash decision, and you are seeking advice. All very positive and responsible things to do.)

2. You are looking for fulfillment in your education/work. (Find an occupation that supports you, your loved ones, and then find fulfillment outside of the 8-5.)

3. Your entire post is generally self seeking. (Find fulfillment in spending time with others, get in shape/fit, find someone that could use your help and enjoy their friendship, volunteer your time/expertise to a worthy cause, pick up a hobby that you always wanted to do. But the most important thing is to find others to enjoy your free time with.)

Edit/Comment: I agree with others, drugs/alcohol should be completely avoided.

A lot of people have felt that way, including me. And looking back, I can see that I was wrong, no matter how absolute my feelings felt at the time.

But that's something you can hear and not believe, so motivational get-livin-or-get-dyin sentiments will only get you so far. Setting a few long-term goals and then a bunch of short-term goals is what you'll want to do so that this down time isn't completely wasted. But thinking about these takes concerted effort, just like any other endeavor.

You say you've just finished your degree. Have you found a job yet? Don't think of getting a job as the end-all fulfillment of your life. At the very least, it can be a stepping stone to other unforseen opportunities, i.e. Woody Allen's aphorism about 60 to 90 percent of life being about just showing up.

If you have a real MBA, the most profitable thing to do is to find a company that's in trouble, but fixable, and offer to turn it around for a fraction of the company. They taught you how to do that in MBA school. The odds of success at this are much better than doing a startup.

You should watch my live stream every night at 8 PM EST. I code rapid prototypes and startups. And I work on cool open source stuff.


I will inspire you to build stuff.

> I'm 29 years old. I finished with my Business Administration degree(major) and now I just feel completely LOST! Has anyone ever felt that way?

Life is short, dark and unfair. The fact that you can recognize this means you're conscious.

> I'd like to be something -- more than just an office person. More than just someone who works that 8-5 shift.

Do you want to be in the history books? Do you want a family? God willing, you have a long life ahead of you. But opportunity cost is real when your life is limited. You have to make decisions, and many of the most rewarding choices in your life won't be fun.

School may or may not help you, but until you've defined your goals you can't break them down into the pieces needed to achieve them.

Read more, seriously do.

It's quite easy for us (I'm 29 too) to get too caught up into the idea of happiness we see on the news or all the public stories we know.

Many people you admire were what could be considered a failure at 29, but that's not newsworthy, we always love the young ones, that they've figured out everything by the time they're 23 or less (12?). That's not true for most people, and doesn't mean you won't find happiness in the near of far future.

That's what helps me to get some perspective. Also know that regardless of how successful you are your life impacts way more people than what you think.

It's tough, and it's something you'd have to experience I think many times in your life.

Hi. You are not alone. I am the same age and I often feel the same. I know that there are many other people that feel the same. Some even call it the Quater-life crisis (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quarter-life_crisis), although I don't like putting everyone in the same bag.

That might be a symptom of depression (but does not have to be). I would recommend the thing I did. Talk to a therapist. Psychotherapy helped me see things from different perspectives, showed me new possibilities I did not see myself. I am still in the process, but I feel so much better and liberated in a way.

This is the phase where it really start.

Though I am younger but this is not age dependent.

This is an indication that something is missing. Some kind of 'emptyness'.

You will take a while to reach that conclusion. On reaching that conclusion of 'emptyness', I started something. I didnt know whether I was fixing it, breaking it or something entirely tangential. But when I was well into what I had started, I knew what do to. Perhaps something in disguise from this (http://zenpencils.com/comic/157-amy-poehler-great-people-do-...).

Best of luck, friend.

Become a member of your local library and read. Choosing what to read can be difficult, but a good place to start is to read books that have movie and TV show counterparts which you like. I'm reading "Orange is the New Black" now. I'm 60 pages in and it's just as good as the show.

> I feel like I should go back to school but do I really want to rack up all that loan?

Always remember that you can learn for free. There is Khan Academy, MIT OpenCourseWare, edX, Saylor University and, formerly, Coursera (they charge for some classes now). I truly believe you will learn more from MOOCs than you will from classroom instruction.

I don't know if this makes any sense, but let me try:

Everything a computer does boils down to a binary signal. Is the current on, or is it off? Everything else is an abstraction built on that on/off business.

Life, as I see it, similarly boils down to two things: finding love, and finding knowledge. Everything else is an abstraction built on these two things.

We seek to become what we seek to become because those that become what we seek to become are rewarded with love and knowledge. That thing we call purpose in life, and becoming someone, and making something of yourself, it's just love in various degenerate forms.

When we change the world, when we make a difference, when we make something of ourselves, we are simply chasing love. We end up loving ourselves, and being loved by others, and being loved by our gods.

The reason we become doubtful about life, I feel, is because we aren't sure whether what we are doing is going to receive this reward of love. That's why someone writing code for Adsense might feel like her job would me more fulfilling were she writing code for cardiac pacesetters instead.

But the love we experience in life doesn't have to be tied to what we do in life. We can love ourselves for the sake of loving ourselves, and without needing reasons for doing so. We can hopefully find people who are going to love us, and who we are going to love back, on similar terms. We may not be able to change society's prerequisites for loving us, but we can certainly change those prerequisites for ourselves and those close to us.

If we manage to do that, we won't need to become this or that in order to feel loved. Then we can do the things that we do because they interest us, or because they afford us a chance to work with people who interest us, or because they allow us to be with people we love the way we love ourselves. If that happens, it won't matter what you do in life, or the lengths of your shifts. Coz you could be working an 8 to 5 shift, but playing in a local band with an amazing bunch of friends, to people who love to hear your play. You could found a start up and do well, and then cash out and quit to go raise a family. You could be a social worker by day and an open source contributor by night.

Love yourself.

If you want to go back to school, do it abroad!! German and Swedish Universities are basically free, and most if not all master's courses are taught in English. Cost of living is generally manageable (You can live like a king in Berlin on the amount you'd loan on average for a uni degree in States). I cannot stress this enough. Broadening horizons, social circles, learning new languages and cultures, travel opportunities in weekends. Oh, and of course learning a new trade. Absolutely worth it.

Your degree is all about making sure you transform a bunch of effort into a scalar value on a bank's hard drive somewhere which represents your company net revenue. Put another way, your degree teaches you how to better execute an extremely lossy compression algorithm which reduces the complex, multidimensional value of what your company is trying to offer the world down to a scalar and then evaluates your success based on the magnitude of that scalar.

If that sounds inherently depressing, that's because it is. Scalar money commerce is an old hack and a complete wreck that has not kept up with the times, and you just got a degree in optimizing your endeavors to it.

As grim as that might sound in one sense, in another, you're also one of our only hopes for getting past scalar money commerce to a better system.

Another way to think of your degree is as a way to isolate the people inside a company from both the real and the psychological ravages of scalar money commerce, or what I think any entrepreneur would agree is "the roller coaster."

This is an extremely noble pursuit if that is your primary goal, as opposed to focusing on the maximization of that scalar net revenue number. And in fact, I'd argue that if you make this your goal, the key to treating your depression will be to find the right group of people worth protecting.

Consider the types of goals you have pursued, what effect these have had on you, and those you'd like to pursue:


It's becoming neglected at this point, but the archives are solid: http://thelastpsychiatrist.com

Helps one cultivate a little perspective and introspection.

Maybe read Yates' Revolutionary Road. TL;DR is that having a self image and/or dreams that don't match your actual ambition, commitment, and situation is fucking poisonous. Read the novel though, if you've got time.

Think about how you can be happy. Like, what happiness even is or would be for you. Consider consulting: Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Epicurus and other Epicureans, Ecclesiastes. Try Eastern sources if you like, but be aware it's much harder to sort the wheat from the crystal-healing-easy-zen chaff than it is with Western works. Don't expect too much with anything short of a sustained, intense, difficult struggle over years or decades—in other words, lower your the expectations of what you'll get out part-time work on material aimed at monks who immersed themselves in this stuff all the time. It can be really good even just dipping your toes in it, but don't expect magic or quick solutions—or solutions at all, for that matter.

I ran into this last when I was 26 and considered it my "quarter-life crisis".

Unhappy with work, no relationships seemed to be budding, didn't feel I was making an impact of any sort -- I considered becoming a Tibetan Monk (I was mapping plane flights).

I found my solution by doing the following:

1) Figure out what I wanted to look back at in the end of my life. What should I have accomplished?

2) Paid very close attention to anything that made me happy. Do more of that.

3) Find a support network, whether family, friends, or strangers with similar problems and ideals.

4) Set specific short-term and long-term goals, ones that you will enjoy.


1) Involved a new career. I announced to my job I was going to be leaving, though took my time in actually exiting while I found what I wanted to do.

2) I found I got tremendous amount of happiness from being out doors and interacting with people. Hiking/camping/yoga helped me a lot.

3) I started paying attention to anyone I knew I could count on.

4) For me, this was finding a business venture that would impact the world (been dreaming about this since I was 5) -- I've been working (and enjoying) 80-100 weeks because it's what I'm passionate about.

Also... general rule "Production is the basis of morale" -- but production has to be something that you feel is production. Working for your company may not be production. Working on your sci-fi book may be.

No one can help you unless they know what you care about. You can't help you unless you know what you care about.

When you feel deeply happy, what are you doing? What things matter to you so much that they drive you do work more than anything else?

I dropped out of the EECS program at Berkeley because I felt like you did doing those studies, but found so much joy and meaning working with children, in my student job as an child care center teacher's assistant, as a summer camp counselor for inner city Oakland kids, as a nanny for one year for a newborn and her one year-old brother. I was determined to go into early childhood education, to make education better.

I went abroad, got sidetracked, got married, came back to the states in the middle of the first Dot Com boom, gut sucked into a coding gig, rose rapidly, made lots of money, but found myself feeling oh so empty again. I finally quit it all. I've been working on some non-profit projects, which feel meaningful to me, but still something missing. So I started volunteering to work with kids. It's been great. Now I'm looking to work with some of New York's 50,000 homeless kids. I'll do it for minimum wage if that is all I get. But I will be happy. Hopefully I make a bunch of kids happy along the way.

Hang in there, this will past. Take what makes sense to you from these comments; they are helpful. However it may seem otherwise, you do not have to be rich to follow your dreams. You can find a way to jump up out of bed each morning and say and mean(most days anyway) "I get to do this again today!" If you do not have a spouse or children, wait on that until you get the work you want. If you do have family this will work, but with family you are not making decisions just for yourself; you will need to include them in this process. The key is to find first what you like. This takes work. We bury what we like deep inside so we won't be disappointed if we do not get it----but then we do not get what we really want and nothing is more of a bummer than that. Second, apply what you like to some work. And third, put the work first, not the money or the praise, first, because now it is what you really want. This takes effort and experiment and great willingness, but I have seen it work in so many people. Finding what you like is not like . or just like preferences; it is much deeper call to your insides. Learn how to be introspective, how to look at yourself and your own mind. There is where the answer is to what you seek.

I've recently read "Man Search for Meaning" by Victor Frankl. I think it's the comfort that we live in make us wonder if there's more to it. We don't struggle with survival anymore. World is now covered by advertisement to urge population to need more useless things. Things we think are innovations are really just facilitating those needs - the need for acceptance, attention, respect, entertainment. Getting bored? get some vines. Lonely? Check Facebook. We don't really feel better doing those things after a moment. It wears off. You do it again.

So is education. You get some, then you get some more. So is work, you get a job, then you get promoted. You know exactly where you are going. You know exactly how much money you need to live comfortably. Maybe you will find a SO, get some babies like your mom keep asking you to do. Maybe that's the way to go. Well, you get to see them for a couple hours before and after work everyday. Maybe go hippie? Go all kumbaya. Maybe find Jesus? It's a peaceful, harmonic society. Another day in paradise!

Realize you are not the only one suffering existential crisis. I have no business giving you advice. All I can say is, I'm in your shoes. All I can think of is to seize control of my own life. Truly understand something thoroughly that you are good at and passionate about. Not for your employer, not for trying to gain attention or respect. Just for you. Take whatever opportunities you've got to travel, to meet other cultures. There are so many possibilities, and you will power to choose your own path if you just be extremely good at something. Know at what point money loses its value. Be good and go forward.

I think I have a slightly different experience that ends up feeling much like yours. I got a vocation, got a job, hated it, am quitting it in a few weeks. I rented another apartment in another town; I'm moving and leaving stuff behind, family included. For a year now I've been telling myself that I'm going to study once again but I have the feeling that I can't stand another 5-6 years eating noodles and accumulating debt, waiting for real life to begin. I really don't know if I have the motivation to study. Even if I did, and finished my studies, I'm not optimistic about finding a job I'll like. So would I go back to square one yet another time?

I really feel like shit. And lost.

I'm thinking of starting a company and just trying to make a living doing something I like. But past experiences suggest that other people won't like the things I like enough for me to make a living off of it. Or I just won't have the time and money to do what needs to be done. Kinda hard to concentrate and plan on anything that takes longer than a month when you're not sure whether you'll be able to pay the rent next month...

Did I tell I feel like shit? And lost?

Unfortunately, I've no advice to give you at this point. Good luck.

I think my main answer would be - seek to do really ordinary things well. There are thousands to choose from. You could be interested in dinner parties, or book bindings, or throwing darts. You don't have to seek power in the economic and political sense to feel powerful, and it may run counter to your nature to do so(in any direct way). Those are, in the end, just as ordinary as the other pursuits, even if we direct more attention at them.

What makes the pursuit worthwhile is in whether it can pull you into doing something more, externally speaking. You could aim for wisdom, leadership, sense of community, or any number of other things, and end up building up to something bigger than you imagined. But you have to make an active effort to get the ball rolling or the gears turning, to learn the technical details, to connect with others, to make commitments, arrangements, obligations happen even when you know they'll stress you out. That's the fundamental difference between "watching life slide by" (much of my teens and 20's) and feeling like you are living in the moment.

You're experiencing what I think a lot of college graduates experience these days: institutionalization. You no are longer part of a system that tells you what to do, when to do it, and how well you're doing it, with a promise of a better future that has no basis in reality, and you're feeling "completely LOST" as a result. It's normal, and it's curable.

You're asking if there is anything else to life, but likely you haven't actually experienced a day of real life. I think you need to figure out what life has to offer, and jumping right back into another institution is not the way to do it. Discover the world, whether by travel or by engaging in your local community. Meet new people, try new things, and above all, do not conform. It will not take long for you to discover that life happening all around you, but you've been sheltered from it. Once you discover real life you will realize how worthless your Business Administration degree truly is and laugh about how silly you were for thinking it was so important in the first place.

It's not surprising that you're not happy with your education, that's a "general" degree to be an "office pion" (I'm using the unpleasant description for a reason). What you did was go to school for something/anything that got you a degree... now you don't know what you want to do (and do with it). That's backwards thinking. You need to find what you're passionate about and then get an education for a job that does that. If you don't like being an office administrator... why get a BA degree? Right? You need to try a number of jobs, experiment (for not too long, remember you're looking for your Permanent job... a.k.a. Career) with different jobs. Spend an afternoon and think about the times you were really happy... is there a job doing that? Is there a job relating to that? FYI: The age you figured out that "you don't want to do this anymore" is immaterial, your first step was realizing this fact. Now do something about it!! and go enjoy your life instead of just slogging through it.

It's nice to hear that everyone here (and yourself) are talking about job and being productive or not.

Maybe it's hard to hear this right away after your major, but a job is just one part if your life. As someone already wrote, also concentrate on your private life, your body and social connections.

And, forget that you will be something super special or will feel super special. You don't have to be Steve Jobs, probably won't be and nobody says that Steve Jobs was a happy person.

Do what you feel is right for you at the moment, have a couple of good friends, work out, and maybe look for a job which helps you for your "birds eye view".

Have a look at Freuds "Über-Ich" [0] and maybe start to listen more at your emotions than on money and job. Nobody says that both couldn't go hand in hand, but after leaving a well paid job, starting at a very poor paid one but with good friends, it's totally worth it.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Id,_ego_and_super-ego

You're not alone in feeling this way. In the past, the things that have most helped resolve the issue is to find a community that inspires you to do better, to feel better. Your work may not provide this, and society at large will not provide this - it comes from finding a community. This can be activity based, religious, goal-oriented - they're all over but they can be hard to find and some are more welcoming than others but that support network is amazing.

Find a cause you care about and then find a community service organization that will help you contribute. Serve food at a soup kitchen. Hack together civic apps to improve how government serves citizens. If you're inclined (don't need to be religious / dogmatic) churches can be great communities to help spur you to think outside yourself, challenge you to be better and inspire you to find your mission in the world.

Finding that community, that goal outside yourself can be extremely fulfilling and helps to focus efforts and do good in the world.

I think feeling lost is a key motivator in life to do things. Do anything. Sure, it's ok to ask for advice, and it's ok to feel down and overwhelmed... Just don't let it control you. Go out and help someone in need. It will give you purpose, but more importantly it will give you perspective on your own life. You'll find that there are people out there who haven't had the same opportunities as you and you will have something to give them. Some knowledge, some advice of your own, or even just someone to listen to. Do one small thing every day. Read a book. Give something away. If you keep doing these things something will click and fall into place, and you will be on your way to filling that void. But actually it's not a void. It's natural for people to feel alone or lost. Keep your chin up my friend. The sun is about to rise and will soon shine warmly on your face. RU

This is known as ennui - and is perfectly normal.

I think there is one solution that works very well.

Do something that benefits others - focus on how you can help others - maybe go onto one of the Stack Overflow boards and answer some questions. Join an online community, say in the start up scene, and give advice to others based on your degree for example.

Remember - this too will pass - the sense of ennui is temporary. Don't equate what you feel with who you are. This is a temporary feeling - just keep going, even if you can't see the point. Eventually this feeling will pass and you will have a huge sense of achievement that you passed through this.

I agree with others, recreational drugs are a definite no-no (alcohol very much so) you need to keep your mind strong not weaken it.

Speak to your doctor/psychiatrist if this changes from ennui to depression - it's always good to have support.

My best wishes for you, you can pass through this, just be patient with life and yourself.

I would travel for a while (6 months minimum, but possibly for years).

You get to know much more about yourself. If you are lost about who you are in the circumstances you describe, why not change the circumstances completely.

Disclaimer + shameless plug: if you are worried about money for that kind of traveling, try www.worldpackers.com (where you can exchange work for accommodation). I work there and I personally know about tons of positive feedback about how traveling for longer times changed their lives for better. Obviously, my advice for traveling persists even if not traveling as a worldpacker. :) Also, I am a personal reference for this kind of power, having spending 6 months working and living at a NGO for homeless families in Uruguay, them the same, but for 1,5 months at a NGO for children in Senegal.

My email is in my profile if you want to be put in touch to more people whose life changed for better by traveling.

I have felt this way too, believe me... "Felt" because I got tired of the feeling and sent in my resignation. I couldn't keep complaining and feeling without doing anything about it while time raced. I'm 29 too and we can both share how we look back and see how quickly everything seemed to happen, our mates are almost all married!! Or are you married too..? Lol.

Well.. About 7 months later I'm coming across your post in my hacker newsletter email and I have this to offer you (for your journey will be different from mine) :

Books: The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and the Millionaire Fastlane by MJ Demarco.

Learn as much from your job while you read these and then follow your heart when you decide to follow the signs.

Your yearning is the beginning. And whenever you're depressed remember Isaiah 40:31 (even though I don't use it.. Lol). The promises really happen.

Yeah I've been there too. I actually had that realization while in college. I saw my friends a couple years older than me who were graduating, but could not find jobs, and were going no where.

It took me awhile, but you need to figure out what you want of life. For me at least, I decided I wanted to help make the world a better place and be in control of my own life. To create something and not rely on a 9-5 job for a paycheck. I'm still figuring shit out myself, but I think I learn more by trying and failing than I would ever learn in school.

Check out James Altucher. I read this a few years ago when I was in a similar state of mind and this article really struck a chord with me.


I'm on year 3 :)

The advice I give people is - do things that will make yourself feel interesting about yourself. Self motivation is the key, but you have to learn to find it first. Stick your neck out into places that you normally wouldn't and you'll find that things start coming together.

Where do you live? Depending on the city, it's relatively easy to get involved in your local government by trying to fix "unsexy", but persistent problems. It'll get you out into things you normally wouldn't do, it'll get you involved with your city, you'll feel good about what you're doing, and it's something you can even put on your resume if you're into that.

"Why has that light been out for two months?" sounds boring at first, but if you pursue it to a certain depth, you'll start to notice some very interesting depth. FOIA/FOIL is a great tool for this.

Good luck!

Find something that is more suited to you, whether it is another job, or some entrepreneurial endeavor. For the longest time, I bought into climbing the corporate ladder. It was making me unhappy and very unhealthy, mentally and physically. Then I came to the realization that I don't want to be a manager or an executive or even a tech lead. I just want to be a peon coder. That is the sum total of my career ambitions. Once I realized this, I changed jobs to a company that doesn't try to push or promote me into tech lead/management; I am and remain a mere programmer by choice. And I have never been happier at a job.

Not saying your ambition should be to be a peon, like it turns out mine is, but you need to figure out what it is and do something that'll get you there.

There's a rather typical "I kicked ass and got stuff done, now what" syndrome which happens to just about everyone to a certain degree.

After weeks/months/years of intense concentration and efforts aimed at achieving a certain goal you're done and that goal is no longer there. This creates a void in your mind and leaves you wondering "now what?". Happens to me after every major project go live, sometimes even after a particularly challenging development sprint.

For me personally the way to "cope" with this is to switch contexts completely for a couple of days up to a couple of weeks (logistics permitting obv)- go camping, fishing, skiing, buy a plane ticket to Europe etc etc.

This is not a universal recipe of course but is something that has worked for me and other ppl I know.

I went through this and yes I've been there. I found that: 1- helping others, volunteering, the homeless that need us but we constantly ignore, and much more. There are lots of causes that can give you a profound sense of being, purpose and go into feeding your own well being. Surprise surprise, we are all human beings after all and it pays to be less selfesh.

2- find your passion and get the time to follow it and do something about it.

3- It took me a long time to realize; and when I did it was a profound moment for me; that all it takes to have an impact in the world is just to be me, the good giving caring me. I don't need to be a superman, nor a celebrity and no not Elon Musk or any other. Just good old me.

Hope this helps from my heart to you.

I don't know if you'll find this helpful at all, but I can say that I'm actually happy, and I feel like my life is pretty good so far.

I'm 27 years old, and I've been living in Thailand for the last year with my wife. I'm doing some contract work for 20 hours per week, sometimes only 10 hours. I spend the rest of my time working on my own projects, either by myself or with a small team. I love building my own projects, like games and apps. Eventually I hope to build something that generates enough income to live and travel without contract work, so that's what I've been working towards.

I had a big improvement in my happiness recently, when I joined a local improv group. I decided that I wanted to do some more acting and making films. So I've made lots of friends, and a group of us are working on a short film, which has been really fun. I felt like I was a bit isolated before this, since my wife and I didn't know anyone here, and I was usually working by myself at home. You might also be able to find some more happiness if you find some local meetup groups to join, maybe get into a new hobby or activity.

My wife is teaching English in Chiang Mai. We came here so that she could do a TEFL course, and then they found her a job. A lot of people just do this for a year or two, as a way to explore a new part of the world. My wife doesn't want to do it for much longer, and she's starting to study something new.

I started my "career" as an intern at a non-profit organization, and it kind of ruined me for any jobs after that. I felt like I was working on projects that actually made a difference and changed people's lives. Not business software, emojis, or mobile games, but websites that would help people and businesses donate goods to charities and hospitals around the world. Then I spent some time at a startup in San Francisco, and I honestly felt like I was wasting my time, even though they ended up being kind of successful.

You don't have to be an office worker. You don't even have to work 40 hours per week. You don't have to own a nice house and a car. You don't have to get married. You don't have to have any kids.

I'm not saying you need to become a full-time volunteer, or teach English in Thailand, or start your own small business. Take some time and think about all your options. On the other hand, sometimes it's really hard to get unstuck unless you make a big change and just do something different for a while. Maybe you just need to do something crazy.

It's easy to dismiss or generalize millennials as lazy or entitled, and maybe some are, but we're on the same boat together - liberal and conservative, 'alt right' and 'rationalist-left'. To the girl with the Tumblr page and Instagram pictures, to the Trump supporter that reads Roosh V, it's authenticity and shared narratives - whether it's about social isolation and awkwardness, anxieties about growing up in a difficult economy, or how society neglects its smartest - that forge common ground among differing ideological tribes and people that otherwise would have nothing to do with each other.

As others have mentioned, you're probably having an existential crisis. This isn't a bad thing so don't let the uncertainty of all of it bring you down, this can happen to people multiple times throughout their lives. My suggestion is to find a place where you can be completely relaxed so that you can think through and figure out your emotions. Personally, when I need to figure something major out, I go out on a clear nights sky and smoke a cigar under the stars. You're the only person that has enough information to figure out what you need to do, so treat it like every other problem, and think it through.

also, if you aren't already, going to the gym/physical exercise can help alleviate the frustration that you're probably feeling.


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