Fighting boredom & finding adventure (quarter-life crisis edition)
December 17, 2016 1:34 AM   Subscribe

I shouldn’t be listless. Living in London, one of the best cities in the world. Been here eight years, in a great job that pays well, and with (a few) close friends. Things, objectively, are good. So do I feel so bored?

I’m moving in different circles these days. I’ve become involved in the effective altruism community - a bunch of kind-hearted folk who want to make the world a better place, and want to use evidence to figure out how best to do that. They’re lovely, and in some ways I feel I’ve found my people. I’ve never been part of a “community” before and it’s a big deal.

So how do I find more things like that? More frontiers to cross, adventures to have? Is it as simple as changing something? Moving abroad? Or is there something inside me that isn’t going to be satisfied with that.

How do I make life exciting again? Like when I was in college, meeting new people and trying new things and being part of this whole new world of people and ideas. New relationships, new dreams. It was self-contained: here is exactly three years in which you have to squeeze out every last drop. Somehow the finiteness of it made it count for something. Now it’s just endless: do nothing, you stay on the same path forever. A year passes—a year!—and I realise I never did the krav maga class I planned on doing.

Hopefully this feeling of listnessness (classic quarter-life-ish crisis material, I suppose) will be familiar to some of you, and you can suggest some remedies. I look forward to hearing 'em.
posted by anonymous to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds like you need to try some new things and set some concrete goals for yourself. Start making to-do lists/using a planner if you haven't already, taking some time to focus everyday on what you need to do to make goals happen. Do those things.
Volunteer closer to home in a cause you care about.
Sounds like you have money, so also try traveling.
Read more. Take some classes.
posted by sacchan at 1:45 AM on December 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

The rest of life is not like college. And for a while after college, for many people, that doesn't feel OK, because college is great! But then what happens -- without you taking any action or doing anything to change your life! -- is it starts feeling OK. What is exciting about college -- at least for many people, and you sound like one of those people -- is that there are tons of open questions about your life; you are figuring out who you are, who you might be, who your community is.... but at some point those questions are answered, and it feels really good to have them answered, to know who you are, to be, as you put it, on the same path forever.

And it might at some point cross your mind that you never took that krav maga class, and then your next thought would be "Wow, back when my life was more unsettled I felt like there was something regretful or even shameful about not having explored krav maga."

I mean, don't get me wrong, if you don't like your job, quit your job, if you don't like the people you're hanging around, hang around different people, and if you don't like your city, change your city. But I don't get the sense you do like those things, but feel like there's something wrong with the absence of the "new." There isn't.
posted by escabeche at 3:30 AM on December 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

How do I make life exciting agaIn?

A good start would be to take the Krav Maga class. Keep doing the stuff on that bucket list in your head.
posted by gt2 at 5:21 AM on December 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

So how do I find more things like that? More frontiers...

I'd took a career self-assessment course in graduate school where we completed a number of exercises to understand our potential and develop a 5 year plan. The exercises included a personality test, an individual development plan, creating a mission and branding statement, a letter to our future self, etc. In essence, matching 'ourselves' with 'what we wanted to do'. This may be an idea for you to pursue.

For me, the life coach sessions were helpful in clarifying my ideas and concerns. Meeting with a work mentor/accountability person to flush out my plans were also beneficial.
posted by mountainblue at 5:39 AM on December 17, 2016

Meet people who are not like yourself through volunteer work or activism? If I read your question correctly, you hang out with rich people who try to earn as much as possible so they can give as much as possible to charity, you work at a well-paid job, you presumably went to college with similar people and you live in an expensive city. If so, perhaps seek out a political organization that is class-mixed? The perspectives you encounter and the experiences you encounter may supply both purpose and novelty.
posted by Frowner at 5:43 AM on December 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

Generally, it takes a lot more effort to find this kind of novelty after leaving college, and moving into the "real world". You have to go looking for the classes and activities you want to take, and sign up and pay for them, and go to them, and do all of this around holding down a day job. Try to make it a priority. If anything, those fun hobbies tend to exercise a different set of brain cells, which feels nice.

If it seems like it fits you, join a church. I have met a large number of friends through my recent joining of a UU church, and most of them are not my age peers. Their perspectives on many things are refreshing, and I quite enjoy my community there.

If you haven't been to a Mefite meetup, go to IRL right now and post one. Everyone I've met through Metafilter Meetups have been fascinating, wonderful people. Most of them are in my peer group, but not all, and have vastly different experiences and interests than me, and there is a lot to learn through them. I enjoy hanging out with mefites so much that I make it a point to create an IRL when I travel (time permitting), and most of the time, it is one of the highlights of my trip.
posted by Fig at 6:36 AM on December 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm going to offer a counterpoint - feel free to disregard. But I've felt like you have for several years - I'm in my thirties. And I live in a sizable city, with a good, stable job, and good friends. And I've spent several years trying to shake that listlessness feeling - making more friends, going to church, taking classes, traveling, learning new skills, reading new books, learning a new language, working out, volunteering, looking into other jobs in this city, moving neighborhoods, etc. - all of it was fun and I'm so glad I've done those things - but the feeling still hung around. (And no - not depressed - I saw a therapist to check.)

I'm leaving this city and job and friends in a few weeks for a bigger city where I know two people and a new scary job. For the first time, the listlessness is gone. And I've started to find people who also need to move around every few years to new places - and several of them are in their fifties. (None of them are married or have children, I need to note.) they're also all responsible, kind, career-driven adults who have just chosen a different path that makes them happy.

So. If you try the very good usual suggestions, and you still feel listless, maybe you're one of these people too. Or maybe you are for a little bit. And that's okay. It's also okay to shake up your life a bit in your current city and find what you're looking for. But for me, realizing that trying to convince myself that I should be happy and satisfied with what I have because I have been very fortunate was actually making myself more unhappy. I don't expect my new life to be better than the one I have here. In several ways, it will be objectively worse. But it'll be new and a huge learning experience, and I think that's what I crave most. And if you're the same way, then it's okay. Different but okay.
posted by umwhat at 7:30 AM on December 17, 2016 [9 favorites]

I love sacchan's answer. It's really that simple, I agree.

I felt like you, OP, for a good while. My life was much as you described: stable job, good social life, a nagging feeling of "Is this it?" I just want to say... I've learned this stability doesn't last. Sooner or later, life happens whether or not you're prepared for it and there may well come a time when you look back on your current stable life and be like, whoa, was that me? Was that really my life?

Changes will be less dramatic, less marked by years, upheavals may take place more slowly, but life does happen and the changes you crave will come. But basically what I'm saying is: don't worry about living the same life for years, it's very likely you won't.

But to address your longing for the new: Get to know yourself and find out what makes you tick. If you miss the deadline-based urgency of college life, give yourself deadlines to learn a new skill, or go somewhere, or produce something. I've benefited greatly from joining writers' groups and committing to a yearly holiday abroad no matter what.
posted by Ziggy500 at 7:50 AM on December 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have two answers for you.

1. When I started to feel this way about New York City, I moved away. It turned out to be exactly the right choice for me.

2. Honestly, I think this is just a tradeoff as you get older. My early 20s had a sort of manic shine to them. There was always a party or an art opening or an adventure or a new restaurant or some exciting person I'd met and we were going to change the world together. It was unbelievably exciting. I'm now in my 30s, and the world just doesn't glow with that unending wonder anymore. And... I'm fine with that. In exchange, I'm a lot more confident. I know what I want. I can judge situations with a lot more clarity.

And sometimes it's exactly those things that makes the world sparkle a little less. When someone tells me I'm smart or funny, I don't get the kind of dopamine highs that I did before I knew I was smart and funny, because I was just a few years out of traumatic teenage social bullshit. I don't need people to tell me who I am. When I go to a party, since I've been to about eleventy billion of them now, there's a sense of predictability to the whole thing that dulls things down to an acceptable level. Which might take the oomph out of things a little, but it also means I also have the ability to look around the room, realize I'm not having fun, and go home. Or have a long conversation with a friend without bringing a lot of "DANCING! WE SHOULD BE DANCING! LET'S GET ANOTHER DRINK! NOW SOMEONE IS DRUNKENLY STARTING SOME SHIT WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH!" rigamarole into it. Or just not care about whatever shit someone is drunkenly starting (I've seen it before and know it'll get sorted) and keep having fun.

In my 30s I know who my friends are and where my strengths lie and what's happening six months from now, which, yes, kind of takes the adventure out of it a bit, but it also makes shit just so much easier. And if I want a little adventure, because I already have a baseline of life skills, I can have better and more fulfilling adventures that aren't quite as dangerous as some of the ones I got into at 23.
posted by Sara C. at 10:56 AM on December 17, 2016 [6 favorites]

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