For the past few weeks, I have been experiencing an existential crisis.
I realized that, for the first time in my life, I have no external guideposts to steer my decisions anymore. And this knowledge had paralyzed me.
For as long as I can remember, others have been telling me what I can and can’t do. Often even how to do and not do those things.
Much of that is normal and natural– parents and family members teach you the mechanics of every day living, teachers shape your knowledge and world views, friends color in the details, helping you discover your likes and dislikes.
But my future was mapped out for me from a young age. I was expected to become a professional, in a field that would be suitable for motherhood (preferably dentistry or medicine). I was then to marry in my late twenties or early thirties and to start a family of my own. And that was it.
No achievement meant anything until I reached that final objective. And once I did, it was implied that I would be happy and feel fulfilled forever more.
Then I woke up one day, not wanting to get out of bed because I dreaded the endless list of tedious tasks waiting for me . Despite all of the privilege of my life, I felt miserable. Sad. Lonely. Trapped.
My husband suggested I take a week off and go on an adventure. But despite my perpetual wanderlust, there was not a single trip I wanted to take by myself. Because the burnout I felt wasn’t from too much of any one thing, it was from too much of everything; so going away for a week would not simply recharge my batteries. I needed to reboot my life.
I have spent the past few days at home feeling guilty for not doing chores or working, drinking wine with my husband and reading. And day dreaming of the college kid I used to be and the muggy summer afternoons I used to spend on my best friend’s fire escape. And all of the different paths I could have taken in this life… and could still take, if I wanted to. And wondering what the bigger meaning of my life should be.
And it hit me in a flash– there is no bigger meaning to life. At least not now. And that is ok.
It is ok to “go with the flow” and to “let go.” It is enough to wake up, take care of yourself, and take care of your family. It is ok to enjoy your work (and to outsource aspects of your work you do not enjoy), people’s company, and your hobbies. And when I start to feel burnt out, it is especially ok to take a time out for myself to eat, exercise, relax, or whatever else it is I need to do.
There is no big mystery to life, no right or wrong answer.
What do you think?