When you lose purpose.
Not too long ago, a friend of mine asked me:
- We work long hours and it’s stressful. Really stressful. Why do we do it? - Dating is hard work and often leaves you depleted. Why do we do it? - Paying a mortgage is a pain. Why do we buy flats? - After many years of seemingly happy marriage, people find out that their partner has been cheating on them for many years. Why do people get married at all?
- What’s the worth of any of this? What’s the point?
I totally get it. I often ask myself the very same questions. And yet, at that very moment, I knew exactly what the answer was. Today, I’m not so sure anymore, so I feel like reiterating it all for myself; and sharing it with you, too.
The truth is that none of it – work, life chores, dating, marriage – really makes sense when you look at the worst possible outcome of these endeavours. But if you look at the ‘ok’ and ‘excellent’ possible outcomes, then it all gains meaning.
Living in a flat share can arguably be a bigger pain than paying a mortgage. (Equally, a flat share can be a better deal than other living arrangements, if you live with friends or in a lovely flat you couldn't otherwise own).
Dating is hard work - in worst cases, when you don't 'click' with someone at all, it can feel like a total waste of time, and in the best case scenario, when you actually start liking someone, it requires opening up and being vulnerable in front of them. Relationships require compromise and work, and they can make you question your whole being. But if at the end of it you manage to meet a lifelong partner, then it sort of justifies the effort.
Working long hours and in a stressful environment is definitely really difficult, but — at this stage of our lives — would we have it any other way? If so, think about it and change what you can, taking into account the concessions you’d have to make in your lifestyle and, more importantly, aspirations.
Remember, you might be one of the few lucky ones who’s not in any way forced to live the kind of life you’re living.
And the last part, the hardest… Interacting with others, especially those we actually care about, necessarily involves getting hurt sometimes. It's an uncomfortable truth, but I think it's important to acknowledge. Sometimes, when you're unlucky enough to get hurt time after time, you may question whether there's any point in letting anyone in.
But I believe, despite myself sometimes, that - as someone clever once told me - it just takes one person to make up for it.
I feel so sorry for everyone who’s had their heart broken; I certainly have, too many times already. I think we’ve all been there; and it makes you feel like sh*t.
But, as history has shown me many times already, most of the harships we go through either lead us to a better place, or makes a good dinner story.
I know that no matter what I say, it probably won’t magically remove the feeling of pointlessness that we all struggle with at times; but looking at the worst possible scenario or outcome, won’t help much either.
Ultimately we take up all these seemingly pointless, unexplainable, and uncomfortable pursuits, because we hope that — in the end— there’s a substantial chance for the best case scenario.
To go back to the last point my friend deplored over, broken marriages - apparently 40% of marriages fail, so there’s still 60% chance for a lasting, relatively happy marriage :).