Lighthouse
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Lighthouse

What To Do When You’re Young and Lost in Life

No one else is going to provide your life with meaning except yourself

Photo by Paulius Dragunas on Unsplash

Do you wonder where that nagging feeling comes from? You’re crippled and you don’t know what to do despite knowing all the possibilities out there.

You know it is nothing external that is hindering you. It’s only yourself, and that sucks infinitely worse than the former because every fault of your predicament is certainly your own.

That’s a terrible feeling, so you try to distract yourself by doing something ‘productive’. You do things you know will generate external results or improve your skill in some way, but in whatever you do you will never feel satisfied.

Not the ‘unsatisfied due to imperfection’ kind, but the ‘I feel like I should be doing something else?’ kind — but you don’t know what that something else is.

You self-reflect, meditate, try to clear your head, but it doesn’t really work, does it? If you’re young and lost in life, and the people you talk to just say: “You’ll figure it out one day.”

That’s not necessarily helpful because while you know that ‘someday’ that day is going to come — what are you supposed to do now? Wander aimlessly, wasting your time having no better alternative but to regress to self-destructive behavior?

The Liberal Myth Is True — Listen To Your Heart

In truth, the solution comes once we stop thinking about ‘value generation’ and simply do creative things that inspire us, regardless of whether it generates value.

Productivity culture heavily emphasizes producing things for other people: starting a blog people would actually read, posting academic achievements online, starting a business, volunteering in social justice organizations so we can pat ourselves in the back for being good people and definitely not those who benefit from capitalism (ironically, the most politically active people out there also happen to be the most privileged).

And just do what makes you happy regardless of what people think! I do not mean dropping out or engaging with other behaviors that might be destructive in the long run — because although those activities provide a temporary elation, these high feelings do not last, and the feelings that come after are self-loathing and shame.

Epicurean hedonism — contrary to the modern definition of hedonism — emphasizes living the simple life in order to achieve happiness.

This simple life involves prioritizing friendships and building a community, learning new knowledge that piques your interest regardless of whether it is going to be profitable in the long run, and simply being content with what we have — if possible rid ourselves of things of excess, similar to Marie Kondo’s minimalistic philosophy of: If it does not spark joy, throw it away! This all seems like common sense, it’s too common to the point that almost nobody takes their advice.

The human mind has a unique way of always seeking to overcomplicate things. Most of the times, happiness and productivity advice are common sense things. Such as: “Having a clean environment makes you happy and increases your productivity!” yet we still need people like Jordan Peterson to remind good boys to clean their room.

We know deep inside what will make us happy. We just do not want to admit it, because we implicitly believe chasing happiness is dangerous.

I used to think adopting a truly minimalist life is dangerous, because if I had no desire for material things, I would have little incentive to pursue better financial positions beyond what was needed for necessary sustenance.

But when we think about it more deeply, there is no use gathering resources that would not bring us happiness.

The key is not to gather as much money as possible, and figure out what to do with it after, but to first identify what will bring us happiness in life, and then work our way towards gathering resources that allow us to manifest them.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to have a shoe or car collection, if that is what truly brings you joy, go for it! But don’t try hard to become a doctor just for the sake of getting more money, which you don’t know what to do with.

It is also important to identify the root cause of our desires — why do we want the things we want? Is it because these things give us joy in themselves, or is it a secondary goal in pursuit of a primary, such as social validation, among other things?

Meditate on this, and rely on where your heart nags you, instead of the conventional ideas of a ‘successful’ life — and maybe you will be an inch closer to finding your meaning in life.

Because nobody else can provide that for you!

Jordan Peterson Was Right — Although Marie Kondo Got There First

Clean your room — seriously. Not just to prove to yourself that you got your shit together — unlike what Jordan Peterson preaches, but because cleaning your room is essentialism in practice, which can lead to life-changing discoveries about what truly matters to you.

Note that I do not mean cleaning your room in the sense that you simply reorganize the stuff that is already there. Instead, we should be getting rid of the stuff that does not ‘spark joy’ — to quote Marie Kondo — in the first place.

You have to remove all the things that do not matter, and only leave the things that do behind — before you can proceed towards organizing them in a visually appealing way.

It is ever more pertinent to remove the things that do not make us happy and are simply there to distract us. A great first step is to take this principle into something physically concrete — such as cleaning your room.

Not only do you have to physically practice the minimalist principle, the results are also physically tangible — which can be substantially more motivating than more abstract forms of practicing the principle, such as looking deeply into your heart to discover your priorities.

While the latter seems like an overly abstract task, especially for confused and lost adolescents, the former is something concrete.

Difficult things — such as finding your life purpose — are not that difficult once we gather enough activation energy to start doing the things that matter towards achieving that goal.

Not only does cleaning and organizing physical things help with gathering activation energy, getting rid of things practices your mind to only focus on what matters.

Lastly, it is important to keep in mind that organizing things reduce the visual clutter which substantially reduces your mental clarity. Your external living space is a reflection of your internal mind.

If your thinking is cluttered, your room would result as follows. Fortunately, we can reverse the process by cleaning our external working space first, so internal clarity can result as a byproduct.

Besides cleaning your physical working space, we also have a digital working space which can contribute to visual and mental clutter without us realizing. If you already have a clean physical environment, but is still feeling disorganized, perhaps it is due to digital clutter.

Fix all the clutter in your life — be it digital or physical — and only then can the fog lift up from the horizon.

Seek To Do Things That Scare You

The best time for someone to take risks is when they are youngest. The younger you are, the more safety nets you have — with less personal responsibilities under your belt. And you will never be as young as you are now!

It is tempting to think that exactly because we have safety nets and less personal responsibilities, we can wait to do things only when forced out of our comfortable cupola. This is a mistake, however.

Doing the things that will matter in the long run not only requires activation energy — but also the courage to take risks. Yet the older you get, the riskier things become — in the sense that you have more to lose.

Let’s say you start a business — and it failed. You did not get the sales you want and the operating costs were too high, so you had to shut down. Since the business is small-scale, the only things you lost were at most a couple hundred dollars (although usually the biggest investment is not in capital but in labor).

Not only were your parents be more than willing to help you out, the failure did not ruin you because you had plenty of free time to spare anyway, so the labor investment was not an issue.

Moreover, you do not need to have a professional reputation at this point, so the failure would not cost you social credit apart from a couple of friends making a bunch of silly remarks — but that’s it.

Contrast this with a real business bankruptcy in the future: managing all the unpaid taxes, the difficulty balancing time spent between your side project as well as a stable occupation, having a family you are accountable for, and so on.

Furthermore, you will feel even more pressure to guard your reputation — not to be known in the office as ‘that guy who failed a business’ and having your managers doubt your competency.

So ask yourself: What is something that will be intensely rewarding after you accomplish it, but is too scary for you to do now?

Then write down concrete steps you should take to accomplish it — and do so.

Conclusion

Here are three things you should do if you are clueless on what to do with your life:

  1. Look deeply within yourself to find the root cause of your motivations; this is in order to find your primary motivations instead of secondary.
  2. Eliminate the unnecessary and reduce visual clutter in your physical and digital space; this is to increase your mental clarity.
  3. Once you have identified your authentic passions and aspirations, do the things that scare you; the best time to take risks is now.

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Celine Hosea

Celine Hosea

Indonesian writer. 18 years old. Read my articles: http://linktr.ee/celine.hosea