If you’re feeling lost in life, you’re not alone, especially if you belong to the younger generation.
More than ever people are disconnected from reality and caught up in a fantasy world where everything appears perfect.
Everybody seems happy, everybody seems to be living their dream, to be successful, to be making money and to be having fun while they do it.
The reality is anything but the case. Talking to a couple of university lecturers, I found that young people are more than ever crippled by anxiety and depression. Young people are feeling lost in life and are struggling to cope with reality. What are the reasons and what can be done about it?
1. You’re chasing the wrong things
This virtual insanity in which we live is causing us to lose sight of what’s important in life. New studies by The Royal Society for Public Health and the charity Young Health Movement show that Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook are having a more negative than positive effect on our mental health.
Those media that rely heavily on images are having a harmful effect on body image, and are causing people to suffer from a constant fear of missing out.
This kind of media is causing young people to waste time that could otherwise be spent focusing on how to achieve lasting self-worth and contentment. It scatters their attention so they’re constantly thinking about trivial things. They obsess about sculpting a better body, getting better clothes, partying harder, doing drugs, and generally impressing people in superficial ways. It distracts them from the actual sources of happiness in life. Happiness is not dependent on what other people think of you, and what people think of you should never dictate your life.
- Even when you know the truth about what’s going on with these media, it can be difficult to prevent yourself falling into the trap of buying into the illusion again and again.
- Be mindful at all times of what the reality is and give yourself a shake whenever you start to feel inadequate because of an image you see on the internet.
2. You’re afraid of a difficult change
If you’re feeling lost in life, it can often be because what you’re currently doing is not the right fit for your personality.
I’ve been through this myself. I spent three years in a position of employment which was totally wrong for me. No one wants to be a quitter though. I felt like I should try to adapt to the job because there must be something wrong with me. But I just couldn’t do it. Doing this job not only went against my disposition but against my values and ethics. I didn’t believe in what I was doing, so how could I be good at it?
As time went on I became more depressed and angry, but every day I felt less and less equipped to do anything else. I was truly feeling lost in life. It was only when I took the chance on a new start that I realized that my fears were unfounded.
- When you realize that what you’re doing goes against what you believe in, search for something else.
- If you’re not sure of what you want, get something temporary until your self-esteem gets back to normal and work out what you want from there.
- Don’t allow your fear to paralyze you, if you’re miserable, you’ve got absolutely nothing to lose by taking a chance.
3. You have unrealistic expectations
It’s really important that we have a realistic view of what we can expect from life and the fact that we don’t is another problem caused by capitalism and the media through which it works.
For a long time now, those people who are trying to make a profit out of us have been stoking our desires with images or beauty, happiness, and perfection. They make us feel inadequate and convince us that we want or need something in order to increase our status. They then sell us something to fulfill a desire they themselves created.
This has constructed a society where (1) people have an unrealistic idea of how happy and prosperous their lives should be, and (2) everyone is looking for a quick-fix solution to their problems.
- Look at the world as it really is. Don’t let their tricks fool you and realize how much you really have and how to best make the most of it.
- Think for yourself and don’t let them manipulate you into being a good consumer and miserable human being.
4. You aren’t disciplined enough
One of the symptoms of a lack of discipline is feeling lost in life. People who can’t cope with the discomfort of applying themselves consistently to difficult tasks eat away at their own self-esteem.
Having discipline means being mindful enough to withstand some deprivation of transient pleasure in the present to focus on creating a lasting sense of fulfillment in the future. Hedonism is the ideology promoted by corporations and profit-seekers as it makes you consume. The media encourage us not to resist temptation and try to trip us up at every turn.
- Always stay conscious of what your long-term goal is and what it takes to achieve it.
- In the face of a temptation, don’t think about the temporary pleasure it will give you. Think about the regret and shame you’ll feel for betraying yourself.
- Stay away particularly from any drugs that dissolve your defences. They put you on a conveyor belt of pleasure seeking that wastes time and gets you further away from your goals.
5. You worry too much and act too little
Anxious people procrastinate and procrastination increases anxiety. When you feel anxiety and fear of the future, it cripples you into inaction. Thus, some of the most intelligent and capable people sabotage themselves over and over in life by giving in to anxiety and fear.
You end up spending so much time worrying about things, that you leave yourself with virtually no time and energy to do them. This means you under-perform and prevent yourself from making any progress in life. It eats away at your self-esteem and feeds your anxiety. It ends up becoming a vicious cycle.
- Try to remain in control of your thoughts and emotions.
- Question your thought process: are your fears rational? Do you interpret situations in negative ways that have no basis in reality?
- If you’re really having trouble getting your anxiety under control, a course of cognitive behavioral therapy can really help.
So, if you’re feeling lost in life, firstly remember that you’re not the only one and there’s nothing wrong with you. We’re living in a society that profits from making people feel bad about themselves and too many people are suffering in silence while showing a brave face to the world.
Perhaps my number one piece of advice is to reach out to others and tell them how you feel. You might find that they were feeling just the same way.
By Carolina J.