Best-Of Advice

On existential crisis management

I don’t know what the shit to do with my life. I feel like all along since childhood I’ve been bred and pressured into conventional views of success: I graduated from one of the top high schools in the nation, then from an Ivy League institution with a degree in Biology. Since then I’ve managed to earn my freedom from my overbearing parents and am paying for all my bills myself. But now that this freedom has all come at once (along with adult obligation), I’m at a sudden loss at what to do with my life. I want to pursue my dreams, but they’re so vague since it seems that side of me has become retarded from lack of nurturing as I forced myself to take classes in subjects I didn’t enjoy. After many, many intense arguments I’ve finally been told I can do what I like. But now I feel like I’ve spent so much time rebelling that I no longer have a cause. What the fuck should I do with myself?

Congratulations on your first existential crisis.

I’m guessing that you’re single with no kids, otherwise you’d be too busy to bother with this kind of thing so early. I’m also guessing that you’ve spent your life surrounded by hollow institutions.

You were raised in a church, but you have no religion. You knew your place in respectable society, but you have no sense of community. You’ve been a typical consumer who’s never really needed anything. Yeah, that shit never helps.

So now what? Have a dream? Find a cause? As you said, all you know about are goals. Hell, you don’t even know where to start shopping for the stuff you need.

Now you’re asking me for directions, like I’m some blue vested Walmart greeter who’ll point you down aisle nine and tell you the dreams and causes are between the sporting goods and the kitchen appliances, right next to the American Idol Karaoke Machines.

Sorry, dude. We’re fresh out of dreams, and we sold our last cause to a bunch of mouth-breathing fundamentalists who didn’t see that it was well past its expiration date. You’re on your own. It’s likely that you’ll run out the clock on your remaining half century and never know what it’s like to belong to something greater than yourself.

That’s not a bad thing, really. You can still enjoy yourself without any canned causes, and life will definitely be less ordinary without any cheap, storebought dreams.

Just be your own person. All you need to do is figure yourself out. Pull focus on that hazy homemade shit. Sharpen those dreams up. You know, the ones that feed your soul when nodody’s looking. Chase after ‘em for a little while, even if there’s no hope of supporting yourself financially in the process.

Don’t worry. This is usually what passes for a period of self-exploration in our generation. Go for it now, while your still young. If you’re lucky, you’ll stumble onto a greater purpose.

Be careful, though. Our generation has no attention span and very little discipline, so a period of self-exploration can often degrade into a period of self-indulgence. Unless you’ve got a trust fund, I don’t recommend periods of self-indulgence.

Oh, and one more thing. This is important, too. What’s all this about being told you can do what you like? As if finally, someone gave you permission to be yourself. That’s bullshit. I’m happy for you and all, but you need to change up the way you see your circumstances. You don’t need anyone’s permission to do what you want. You never did.

Until you have kids you are beholden to no one, not even your overbearing parents. Remember, if you allow someone to grant you your freedom, you’re not really free.

Internalize that. Until you believe that shit at a core level, you’ll never feel right going after your dreams.

Good luck with the existential crisis. I hope you figure it all out.


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