What if you don't know the answer to this question ("Why am I here?")? What if your answer is that you don't understand why you're still here? When your passion for everything and anything in life has waned to nothingness. When you feel like your body is in a constant state of physical and mental fatigue, bordering on a grinding, gnawing pain? When you feel like a passenger in your own life, stuck in the rat race, stuck in the routine of monotony? When every day boils down to sleep, eat, work, and everything in between ends up as a fuzzy blur?
What then? How can I shake this feeling? How can I restore the drive and motivation in myself that I never remember having in the first place? Is it even possible?
To follow Mr. Sivers's analogy: What if all my reasons have expired? Is that somewhere else... nowhere else? Should I be dead instead? That doesn't seem like a very practical path to follow, but yet living feels so draining that I don't know how much longer I can carry the weight of a life lived for nothing. It really is all for naught. At this point I feel like I am living this life because it is the life society wants for me: go to school, get a degree, get a job, get married, have kids, grow old, die. That sounds horrible to me and yet I feel so stuck in this formula. I feel so abnormal because I can't feel satisfied or fulfilled with this "normal" version of life. And I can't tell anyone these things because they will reject me, saying I should just enjoy this or that, or telling me that I should be grateful for what I have. Their words (and this article) don't change anything. I know that the change must first come from within, but I don't know where to start.
What if it didn't matter if you have all the answers right now? What if it was OK if you accepted your current situation for what it is (i.e. simply a mixture of circumstances and emotions that are subject/likely to change)? What if all of your reasons haven't even been born yet? What if it was OK for you to be where you are with no reasons whatsoever?
My point is you can start by asking yourself different questions. I noticed that your questions centered on potential negative outcomes. Try flipping that around. "What if it was OK for me to feel this way right now?" "What if I don't need to change anything within myself right now?"
Better yet, take a break from asking questions for a bit. Take a few long, deep breaths instead. I have trouble remembering this sometimes, but life goes by one moment at a time. We don't have to live it all in one breath. We don't need to bear the burden of the next 60 years of possibility in the next 60 seconds of life. Take it a step at a time.
Try to not fight the feelings you're having. It's a battle you can't win. Accept them, let them be. The more you fight them, the more they'll consume you.
Try not to be so hard on yourself. You're only human. You'll never have all of the answers.
Finally, take everything I suggested with a grain of salt. I don't know your exact situation. I'm not a professional. I only know what's helped me get through tough times. Hopefully some of it can be helpful for you too.
I second the comment re: depression. If you've never spoken to a professional about these feelings, why not give it a chance? If you have, and it didn't work, why not try someone else? If you can only do one thing, speak to a pro.
I'm happy to share my own experiences/challenges with you if it helps. If you want, email me the things you're afraid to tell others about for fear of being rejected. It's my username at my username dot com. There's always someone willing to listen with an open mind, despite what you might think. Even if it's just some random stranger from the internet :)
Even though you're probably over thinking too much already, for some reason I would suggest reading William Golding's short essay entitled 'Thinking as a Hobby.' In Golding's taxonomy, Grade 2 is a powerful yet awkward place. To be on a higher level gives you a strategic advantage, yet it can be dangerous at the same time. I doubt anything could be said in a Hacker News comment or a blog post that could help change the way you think or see things, but perhaps pondering the beauty of a higher level of thought, less stifled by insignificant problems, may lead you to shift your perspective. Maybe it's not as simple as choosing to think differently, but give yourself a chance, break away from your routines, and maybe it'll just click.
Maybe it's as simple as choosing to think differently. Try to catch yourself dwelling on negativity and use it as an opportunity to be creative and think of positive perspectives. Don't try to be positive—just contemplating positive scenarios is generally enough to shift your frame of reference.
How old are you? Too young to be having a mid-life crisis but too old to be experiencing teenage angst, is my guess. There is hope and something I say may help you but really the only one that can save you is your self. My reply depends on your context. Details needed.
To give you some background: I am 22 years old. I graduated from college about a year ago and I now make a living as a software engineer.
I agree that the only one who can save me is myself, and to all those who have said that I should seek professional help: I have and am currently working with someone to address these feelings I have towards my life.
I'm not sure what other details you were looking for, but that should be a start, at least.
You are really just starting your life. You will be a completely different man at 32 than 22. Accept that you are unhappy right now but this is a temporary situation that you are willing to resolve. You have a job and presumably a place to live, so right now everything is okay.
To help with feeling overwhelmed, confused and anxious about your life I recommend a book called "Focussing" by Eugene Gendlin. Its hard to explain but he has exercises that allow you to cope with life's problems by mentally building a little breathing space between your problems and your self. His method also allows you to get beyond the conscious self-talk and other mental static and tap the subconscious to understand why you are "stuck". (It all sounds like a bunch of non-sense and even Gendlin oversells it but the book is cheap, the exercises are easy to do and helpful and you don't have to buy into all the woo).
Based on your orginal post, it sounds like you launched on this life trajectory without thinking too much about it and that you are just now questioning it. This is a very common problem due to social expectations or parental pressures, etc. So here you are. Many people go down this path but don't question it until they hit middle age. So be glad you have avoided the disaster of a mid-life crisis. Moreover, figuring out who you are and what you value and what you want to do with your life at 22 is not only easier but you have way more options than the man who embarks on such a task at 50, with the ex-wife and three kids to consider.
So that is the essence of the problem. You are an adult now and need to decide what you believe, what you value and what you will do. In a more rational culture you would have been given much more guidance before being pushed out of the nest but the problem is still yours to solve. I recommend two books to read by Ayn Rand; Philosophy Who Needs It and The Virtue of Selfishness. My recommendation is not so much about her philosophy but about learning to think philosophically about your life.
I was/am in a mood something like this after reading Godel, Escher, Bach. I can't say I've found a simple way back, but if you're into detailed psych Eric Fromm's books in English were fascinating to read and helped a bit. (Escape from Freedom, Man for Himself, Sane Society)
If you aren't so much into that (or even if you are) professional help is not a bad thing.
You are probably above the average.. You are smart philosophically enough to understand "the truth"; everything just looks like some silly games one on top of another, with nothing much to spends peoples life away.. right?
The thing is.. more and more people will be like you, like me.. because all those things we build.. this new world we are trying to create (or at least to manage), make us smarter..
What works for me: Try to to the things you like the most in the world, even if people dont like it; be sincere to yourself always.. be true to your inner essence..
Than these little things will grow, make your life more valuable to you..
Take the skeletons out of your closet: assume and be the guy/girl you always wanted to be, dont care about the others; just go for it..
Your spiritual side is important: try to make a connection to whatever you feel the divine is... in waht do you believe.. this helps you, or its in your way to get more hapinness? Its good to find a gravitational point that is not our own ego, speacilly for people that are not selfish and narcisistic
Look: You are normal and probably more sane the most of the people.. they "the average" are the lunatics.. dont be ashamed of it, or think you are the wrong one, because you are different..
This is from a guy who use to believe in that and lost some years and some light, to believe that "the average" were right in some way.. and are turning back to what he really believes.. a path on its own.. there is no door ready for your life.. people above average make their own destiny by being themselves and make what they believe in.. its hard.. and we must be brave.. because it means to be aside of everything and marginalized for a while..
but that is what everybody needs.. even the average.. they need people to believe in, people who make take different routes and paths, and even make theirs lifes more valuable; i hope you are one of those..