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I'm 27 and I don't know how or what makes me happy anymore, I don't know how to live

(50 Posts)
yoursewr Tue 21-Apr-15 20:30:37

I'm 27 and I'm in a very successful career. I have a partner, but I rarely see him due to his and my work (both work in Europe regularly, but not together...we therefore see each other every few weeks, and briefly). But, my DP isn't the problem. I'm not sure he is 'the one,' but that's not why I feel this way. I just feel utterly lost.

In my early twenties, I had such a passion for life. Even after uni, when applying for the role I have now, I was enthusiastic, I could take knockbacks (and there were many!). I went through a heartbreak and it was soul destroying, but I got through it. I worked hard to re-build my life. I was excited about things...I saw a purpose in all that I did, I was positive and resilient.

Now...things have changed. I feel like my job is pointless in the sense that it makes money but that's it...it doesn't benefit anyone, really. There's no real purpose to it, in my eyes. I am disillusioned with it. I feel like I lost a few friends along the way when trying hard to get into this career. That's caused some bitterness on my part (and my old friends, possibly). I don't have any interests in things. I try. I have been to language classes, art classes, the gym etc. But I don't actually enjoy doing these things...I often feel as if I'm 'watching' myself...not really living, just going through the motions. I also constantly feel like I don't cope well with not seeing my partner, I get anxious about it and that's out of character for me.

I also used to be quite funny (don't mean that in an arrogant way!), I could make people laugh and I took pride in my appearance. I used to LOVE going to the make up counter in Boots, and I would be forever browsing online for new outfits. A dinner out with a friend, DP, anyone, would be really special to me and I would go all out and really look forward to the occasion.

I've always been a worrier, but even my worries have disappeared into just a general feeling of anxiety. I can't remember the last time I felt excited about the future in any way, shape or form. And I have tried so hard to make the effort, I really have. I don't think I am depressed. I have been to see my GP and he said perhaps I was stressed. I don't feel stressed, I just feel empty. It sort of feels like I am in a mid-life crisis, and life is passing me by.

Any advice would be so much appreciated.

3littlefrogs Tue 21-Apr-15 20:36:47

You are very young OP.
I don't have time to write a long reply, but the one thing I would say to you is, look into volunteering. Doing something to help others can be fulfilling and rewarding; it can also help to restore a sense of balance and proportion.
Can you take time out of your job to go off and do something different?

Snowberry86 Tue 21-Apr-15 20:39:19

I have been through a time where I felt very similar. I think looking back I was depressed. I couldn't face up to that as my life seemed to be going so well, what did I have to be depressed about. But things just didn't make me happy.

I still have periods like it now. I'm constantly thinking what if and what next and working on the next time. I find it hard to sit back and enjoy living in the now.

tumbletumble Tue 21-Apr-15 20:49:31

I think it's quite normal to spend your 20s feeling all fired up about your career and social life and then start to think 'is this it?' as you head towards 30.

For me, the answer was to start thinking about getting married and having babies, but that isn't the case for everyone, of course. But maybe your casual relationship with DP is bothering you, and you're ready for something more serious?

confusedoflondon Tue 21-Apr-15 20:52:22

I experienced something similar in my late 20's I think it that feeling of being on a hamster wheel day in day out, trying new things because you feel you should but never really feeling any passion for them. I never classed myself as depressed either, still wouldn't, just having a period of numbness and disassociation almost. I think it would probably help to change your job first and foremost or retrain on a completely different tangent if you like. You're young and untethered and you can do whatever you want you don't have to decide what you want to be when you grow up for a very long time yet, or ever if you dont want to!! Talk to your partner about it too. Maybe you two need an adventure together instead of being apart so much.

pdxs Tue 21-Apr-15 21:20:19

I think it's normal to feel like this at various points in life and it's often a clue to change something. .. The trouble is knowing what to change and what you are looking for in life! Quite often 20s can get spent trying to get settled in life/live up to others (parents? Societies/friends) idea of what we're "supposed" to be doing and achieving. Maybe it's a clue to look a bit deeper into what YOU rather than anyone else values. If you can afford it/want to, then psychoanalysis or a related therapy could help... its not just for people with "problems" but a great way to know yourself really deeply so open the door to finding out what would be fulfilling in life for you... If that seems extreme reading a book or two about finding your purpose could also help

pocketsaviour Tue 21-Apr-15 21:21:51

But I don't actually enjoy doing these things...I often feel as if I'm 'watching' myself...not really living, just going through the motions.

This actually does sound like low-level chronic depression to me. But probably brought on by a bit of an existential crisis rather than an external cause.

Would you consider seeing a counsellor? I'm thinking someone with a life coach/personal development angle?

I do hear a lot of dissatisfaction with your current career and perhaps regrets that it has proved to be a hollow prize. Would re-training be feasible, perhaps if you carried on with what you're doing for a couple of years and saved really hard? But of course you would need to work out first what you wanted to do instead smile

MelonBallersAreStrange Tue 21-Apr-15 21:25:08

Try reading this The Happiness Trap

thisisnow Tue 21-Apr-15 21:45:20

I felt the same at 27, and have tried to make some changes since then. At 29 I don't feel much better so I'm afraid I don't have any answers for you. I kind of think "Is this it?". But I think today's culture plays a big part, we live very competitive lives where we always feel like we should always be striving for the next best thing.

yoursewr Fri 24-Apr-15 17:11:23

Thanks for al the responses. I just feel very lost, and as if I am in a cycle of not really knowing what I want, and worse, not having the confidence to just persue a certain route, for fear of it going wrong. It leaves me just plooding on, getting nowehre, with no changes. I just don't feel as if I really truly live, and a lot of the time I feel I crave the past, because I was so much ahpppier then, yet I don't know how to recreate it and I'm scared to try because it was so natural before, and now it seems that all I do is always an effort. My thoughts seem jumbled reading this back...!

thisisnow Fri 24-Apr-15 17:30:01

I feel exactly the same. I have no idea what job I want to do but I'm scared to leave my job and start again as I don't even know what I want. I used to have a lot of goals but now I have none other than to be happy!

Joysmum Fri 24-Apr-15 17:57:04

Happiness can be found in your relationship with others and the world. It's all about the people you love and who love you.

If you're not sure your partner is for you then that can leave you feeling empty. How are your relationships with others in your life. Do you have close friends or family?

Oneeyedbloke Sat 25-Apr-15 09:40:34

You do sound depressed to me, OP. I have a rule of thumb: if you can identify a reason for persistent low feelings, you're not depressed, you're sad. If the feelings come on apparently unconnected to any cause, that's depression. I think depression is mainly deferred sadness - the therapists say repressed, but the end result is the same. Depressive types typically bottle up their bad feelings, for a whole range of different reasons.

The key word is 'empty'. That's so often used by depressed people. We say we're 'filled' with sadness, and it's true - we're taken over by our feelings of grief, or whatever. But depression empties; it's the bad feelings, disconnected from their cause.

So you have to 1) find the cause, and 2) at some point, work out why you defer sadness. You say your DP isn't the problem, but really? Two paras later, you're saying you don't cope well with not seeing him. So the relationship, if not DP himself, IS a problem. And he's not 'the one', and not coping with his absence is 'out of character' for you. So what's in character for you? Having a casual partner and not caring about not seeing him much? Surely that's not the 'old you' that you want to get back to?

You seem to me to be crying out for significance in your life, for human contact. Maybe your past life seems rather materialistic to you now, that's making you sad and you're not acknowledging that sadness - bottling it up. You say you went through a heartbreak and it was soul-destroying but how did you patch up your soul exactly? What happened to all that pain? My bet is, it's causing your current problems.

My advice? Go for human contact. Admit you want to see more of your DP. He's not 'the one' but who IS the one? - someone unattainable, or someone real. Talk to old friends about the 'old you'. Get that woman into perspective, and then put some thought into the new you - someone who's recently realised she doesn't want to waste her life doing a job that doesn't benefit anyone. Your watchword should be 'stay close to people through thick and thin' - we are social, cooperative, loving animals and when we deprive ourselves of human connection, it makes us sad. Hope this helps.

Skiptonlass Sat 25-Apr-15 14:06:49

I went through something quite similar. The career I thought I wanted turned out to be..meh. I wasn't happy in my life at all.

I saved up for two years, quit my job and went for the gap year I'd never had. A year out of the workplace (I worked casually) in a different country, being outdoors, hiking, taking time to just experience nature etc... Did me the world of good.

It's a drastic option, and I'm not saying you should do that, but do this :

What you're doing now (your job, where you live etc) isn't making you happy. Change something. Are you happier? If yes, do more of it, if no, change something else. Repeat until things improve. Depression is a sign that your life , or something in your life, isn't good for you. I feel better now than I have done in a decade. It wasn't easy to get here - I had periods of being skint, of total despair and of absolute terror, but it worked out ok in the end.

Afterthestorm Sat 25-Apr-15 16:13:17

Am reading this with great interest also. Thanks for the really helpful, constructive advice.

springydaffs Sat 25-Apr-15 16:28:56

St Johns wort is good for this sort of thing btw. As you sort out the other stuff of course.

Don't use it if you're going to be in strong sunlight. Also, it's a herb so not good for longterm use.


czechout Sat 25-Apr-15 18:00:15

Sorry you're feeling down.

I recommend you think about the greater purpose of your life. Who created you? Why were you created? What happens when we die? As a firm believer in God and an afterlife I find having an understanding of the greater purpose of life provides inner peace. Perhaps you already have a belief system so this is not intended to offend you I am just taking something I know works and recommending it.
When you focus on the journey of the soul which is eternal (unlike our bodies and all material around us which expire) and how best to serve God you can find much happiness.

I hope you feel much better soon.

thisisnow Sat 25-Apr-15 18:08:11

skipton what age were you when you quit your job? I'd love to do that but I'm absolutely terrified and I've not been out of work since the age of 16!

Yarp Sat 25-Apr-15 18:14:59


I went through this in my twenties. It culminated in me becoming depressed and ditching the job that I had worked so hard to qualify for but was stressing me out. The way you describe feeling is suggestive of at least mild depression, and exploring that further may help.

Depression can result from sustained periods of anxiety. Flat, no libido (not just sexual, but zest for life), not wanting to go out and see people, when I saw people feeling like I was a drag and uninteresting, finding it hard to laugh or smile.... All symptoms of depression.

My issues were very much to do with feeling I 'ought' to do things and not having ever found out who I was an what I really enjoyed doing. As a clever woman, I was on an academic path that did not feel authentic to who I really was.

In my case I resigned and felt immediately lighter. I then took some time off, and then a job with much less responsibility and stress.

Yarp Sat 25-Apr-15 18:21:23

Lord that sounded conceited! grin

Willdoitinaminute Sat 25-Apr-15 18:33:15

Life is like a river. When your on the straight you can see exactly where you are going but when the river bends it's difficult to see what is ahead. Then there is the odd rapid and those dreaded waterfalls.
You are heading towards a psychologically big bend and we all have a wobble with that one.
Your young and a change of career is easy, as is a change of partner. I didn't find the one until I was 28, which was the age I had decided to change direction if I was still single. I did change direction but not how I'd planned. My now DH gave me the confidence and support to take a step in my career I would never have taken on my own.

Willdoitinaminute Sat 25-Apr-15 18:34:57

Sorry you're for the pedants.

hereandtherex Sun 26-Apr-15 07:09:00

Not sure about the depression comments. Its worth checking out.

You're 27. You left Uni @ 22ish, so you've only been doing your jobs for about 5 years. That really is not a long time, says me about to hit 26 years since leaving Uni.

If I was to guess, I would say you are a driven, goal based person. Maybe too driven? There's more to life than goals + work - you can work as hard as you like but work will not sort out your non work life.

Don't live to work. Work to live. Just not worth it.

At 27 with an absent BF, I would guess that, subconciously, you are planning you next life stage - kids and all that. Except your BF is not around, so you are just not getting traction on that.


josephine1986 Sun 26-Apr-15 07:38:04

I have recently felt like this too, OP, and seeing these comments has really helped me see what's going on my head. Lots of good thoughts .

I agree that perhaps you are subconsciously seeing a dead end with your current situation and you need to work out what is important . Definitely something needs to change.

In my case I have less freedom to change as already have a dd but am trapped in a dreadful, stressful job and trying to plan the next steps. If you have the chance I would try and think what you would love to do - climb a mountain , volunteer abroad, etc etc, and go for it while you are still relatively unattached.

josephine1986 Sun 26-Apr-15 07:45:44

Oh, and where you say you get anxious about not seeing your partner, that indicates to me that you are pining for closer contact with him, to see him more regularly and the relationship to be more solid in that sense. Perhaps a change of career that allows you to be with him and not constantly away would help with that?

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