“Do you know what the scariest thing is? To not know your place in this world, to not know why you’re here. That’s… it’s just an awful feeling.” -Elija Price from the movie “Unbreakable”.
But what happens if and when you can’t seem to find your own unique, specific niche? I’m talking about major areas of your life, like employment. Your ideal partner? Your own distinct style? Your identity? Can these two states of overchoice and underchoice lead to mental health problems? What happens to your mood when there are an infinite number of things you could possibly do with your life? Do you begin to block everything out, deny existence of something?
I’m sure that for everyone, there are moments when it all seems like it is too much to bear. It seems to me that in this new information age, a lot of people are withdrawing into their shells, refusing to face the true reality of this world. Perhaps because of their online internet experiences. It’s called “future shock”.
We’re always reminded that people who can’t find a worthwhile niche are not much use to society. In this way, perhaps one completely natural & previously redundant “coping mechanism” (stemming for overchoice) is the occurrence of mild depression. We all know that chronically depressed people are obviously more prone to suicide. They consciously choose to eliminate themselves from their own suffering. It is a way of dealing with their own extreme level of internal conflict, self-pity, guilt and their perceived burden on society. But what if it is actually a subconscious choice that has already been programmed into them? Are the peers who have failed to recognise and treat their condition (just like they would any individual with another sickness) partly to blame?
Are we all making “nano-niches” for ourselves, in an attempt to fit into this new highly-customised, choice-oriented advanced consumer society? We now join online local communities such as forums, blog directories, facebook, dating sites, chat rooms. We subscribe to newsletters, RSS feeds. We can search for whatever we like with google, almost without limits. As individuals, we’re always searching to redefine ourselves, to find our life purpose.
No one can or should tell you what to do with your life. There is only one person who can decide and determine what you should do and that is you.
If you’re living your life trying to please someone else, you’re probably wasting your time. Sooner or later you will come to the realisation that the best way to please other people (such as your parents, your partner or your friends) is to be yourself. It’s fine to ask people’s opinions and sometimes they can know you more than you think you know yourself. I would say try and listen to that inner voice. Sometimes it is so soft, so quiet, it’s hard to hear it above the noise.
I often find myself asking these questions:
- Who do I want to be?
- Who do I want to become?
- What do I want to do with my life?
When you are told very early on that you can do anything –to be anyone– choosing your own career path is never easy. So despite my little spiel about self-realisation above, this is my advice, should you choose to accept it:
Pretend you are retired. What would you do with your time — when time is most important to you?
Or Imagine you don’t get paid anything to actually work. What would you do with yourself then?
[look at the japanese overlapping circles]