Q. At the age of 25 I feel empty. Perhaps it’s best to share what my life is like to shed some light. I live in the basement of a house where I have room and board. I have one full time job and a part time job. One of two best friends has recently moved away and my other best friend despite my efforts, never calls. I struggle with preplanning in my life, whether it be looking for a new job, buying tickets for a concert or even going on a road trip. I am intimidated by large groups of people and often avoid such situations whenever I can. I don’t drink, do drugs, smoke, or gamble. I have no debts and I am neither wealthy or poor.
I feel I live a fearfully indifferent life. I cry a lot. I have no hobbies, collections, or great aspirations in life. I am often described as a workaholic and I agree. I’m tired of work, but I have nothing else. I believe in waiting for marriage, however at my age I feel like an oddity. I’m frustrated that I don’t really allow myself to meet people. I used to volunteer a lot, but since attending university over five years ago I found that I just shut down — burnout is my guess. I feel that I am unable to properly cope with life and that it holds nothing more in store for me. I often feel that each day I’m playing a game where the rules are unknown to me and whenever the day ends I feel that I have lost. Please help.
You are so young. You still have so much life to be lived. You are entirely too young to essentially declare your life virtually over. It is really just beginning. At this stage in your life, you are developmentally where you should be. It sounds like you are you are trying to “find yourself,” trying to figure what your passion is, trying to identify your path in life, and so forth. Your situation is one we all must deal with and it is difficult. It might be helpful for you to reframe your situation from a life of “indifference” to the truth which is that you are just now beginning to explore who you really are.
It also seems that you may be overaccentuating or focusing on the negatives in your life and overlooking many positives or strengths. You may also be taking your life situation for granted. Let me give some perspective.
You have a roof over your head. Many people in this world do not have a place to live. They go homeless. They live on the streets, unsafe and unprotected. While on the streets, they are cold, subjected to abuse and too often victimized. Please don’t take this aspect of your life for granted.
You also have had the opportunity to go to college and earn a degree. Many individuals would love to attend college but cannot because it’s too expensive; it’s simply out of their reach.
You are also able-bodied enough to have a job. I work with many disabled people who feel greatly stigmatized and depressed because they cannot hold a job. Their life goal in many cases would be to find a suitable job where they could earn their own money. You have two jobs.
You are not poor. Money is not a struggle for you. You are not living “paycheck to paycheck” like so many people in this country. You are not in debt, a claim that many people in this country cannot make.
You are not addicted to drugs or drinking. Millions of people and their families struggle with these addictions, to the point where these addictions destroy their lives.
And perhaps most important, you have your health. This is an absolute blessing and never something that should be taken for granted. There are probably many more positives in your life that are not mentioned here. It is important to realize that in many respects, you are extremely lucky.
Despite all of the positive aspects of your life, I know that just realizing these may not be enough to help you feel better. That is why it’s important that you make an attempt to connect with others. This could be trying to connect with individual people, a support group or a therapist.
If you want to meet new people, try making it a point to talk to at least five new people a day. You may not feel comfortable with this. If not, try meeting with a therapist. He or she can help you assess why you have been shutting down over the past few years, help you learn to regain your vibrant self and help you understand why it is that you have lost purpose and meaning in your life.
Lastly, as you have done in the past, try helping others by volunteering. Some stress researchers believe that altruism is the ultimate remedy to distress and life dissatisfaction. The act of helping others may help give meaning and purpose in your life. I hope this answer helps you. Take care.