I live a sad, lonely, purposeless existence in a city that I'm not crazy about. Should I try to fix my life here, move back to the city that I loved, or quit my job and travel around the world for a year in the hopes of finding a mission in life?
posted by coelacanth! to religion & philosophy (25 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I've never been a happy person. I was abused as a child and socially outcast as a teen. I dropped out of school and traveled around the country, doing drugs and hanging out with hippies. Eventually, I burnt out, put myself through college, and moved to New York City, where I built a successful career for myself as a software developer. I'm an atheist. I'm completely estranged from my family. I made a lot of friends in NYC, but ultimately withdrew from my social group because of some drama. Although I've had a fair amount of sex in my life, I've never been in a real relationship. I was unhappy with my last job in New York, and I was unhappy with my personal life, so about a year ago I moved to San Francisco.
Now I have what would appear to be a great job, working for a successful company. However, I'm not happy with it. Even though my work is somewhat high-profile, I rarely get to do anything interesting. I've tried interviewing for a couple positions within my company, but was turned down both times. I'll admit that I'm not very good at interviewing, and my (depressed) mental state may have had something to do with my failure. Although I've slept with a few girls since moving here, my romantic life has been a failure. I've made some friends, but I don't have a "group," and I spend many nights alone. I've been drinking heavily.
Worst of all, I feel like I have no mission in life. This didn't always bother me, but my mother died a few years ago (I didn't actually find out until a couple years after the fact), and I started thinking about a bunch of difficult shit that I hadn't thought of since I was 15 -- stuff like "What am I supposed to do with my life?" and "How can I give my life meaning?" In my youth, I had never found answers to these questions -- at a certain point, I just decided to put my head down and go to work. But now it's coming back to haunt me.
I'm aware that I could try to fix my life. I could do all the trite bullshit that people always recommend -- Get a hobby! Exercise more! Read this book! See a therapist! -- but at this point, I wonder if it's even worth it. For one thing, I don't particularly care for San Francisco. I lived in NYC for 7 years, and came to love it. I went back to visit recently, and didn't want to leave. Ultimately, I think I'm going to move back some day; it's the only place I've ever felt like home. However, regardless of where I live, there's still the question of *why*. I'm 32, and every year more of my friends are finding serious girlfriends, getting married, or having kids. And that's great for them. But honestly? I just don't see that as a mission in life -- at least not for me. Also, there's the fact that I'm pretty much completely dispirited at this point. I don't want to go on another job interview or another date; the whole idea fills me with dread. Although I'm nowhere near suicidal, every day I wonder how much more of this I can endure. Something has to change.
For a long time, I've had this "break glass in case of emergency" plan. Let's call it Plan B. Basically, travel around the world for a while and try to re-ignite my passion for living. Maybe I'll find a city to live in, where life is pleasant and costs are cheap, and I can finally work on some of the Internet businesses I've had ideas for all these years. Maybe I'll see the crushing poverty in the world and start to care about children or poor people and dedicate my life to charity. Maybe after a year or so I'll have had enough experience, and I'll be ready to move back to NYC and get back to the grind. But right now, I'm in a rut -- in every possible way -- and I wonder if this is my only way out.
I haven't talked about this with a lot of people, but when I have, most of the time they tell me I should do it -- that I should quit my job and travel around the world. Of course, it's really easy for them to say that. For one, most people live really boring lives, and they like the idea of living vicariously through someone else. Second, they don't have to deal with any of the negative consequences of things going wrong. And they could go very wrong! I could get kidnapped, catch AIDS, lose all my money to identity theft, or lose a limb. I could wind up a year from now, no closer to finding a mission in life, with $20-$30K less in my bank account, and one year closer to 35, which seems to be the age at which men are considered "past their sell-by date." Nobody thinks about these things when they tell you to "follow your dreams."
I would be leaving in 3 or 4 months, which is enough time to get my shit together. I may see a therapist in that time, if I can find one that I like. I could put all my stuff in storage and have a nice little life waiting for me when I get back. I have enough money saved to where I could easily spend a year backpacking around the world and have enough left over to restart my life when I move back to NYC. But would any of this actually help me?
And so I ask you, random person I (probably) don't know on the Internet. What should I do with my life?