The question I am a woman in my late 40s and I recently realized that I have no idea what would make me happy. I am married, I have children and a good career. We are financially comfortable. I have nothing to complain about. Yet beneath the surface, I feel a kind of numb desperation for life. I don’t find joy in anything. I don’t like my job and I feel disconnected from my family. I sleep badly, which doesn’t help; sometimes at night I get so mad at myself for not being able to accomplish this basic human function that I wish I could just die.
The only thing I’ve ever wanted in life is to be a writer. A big publisher has taken three books out of me, but they have not been successful. So even though people say I should be proud, I see myself as a failure. I keep telling myself not to give up, but it’s getting harder and harder to find a reason to keep trying. I just cling to my old dream out of habit, and because it is a spark of hope fading into an otherwise gray landscape.
How can I learn to enjoy what I have and stop feeling so empty?
Philippa’s answer “A spark of hope fading into an otherwise gray landscape.” I love the clear picture his metaphor painted. I’m not surprised you’re a writer. I don’t think your mental health can allow you to stop being a writer. Big publishers don’t just accept anyone, you would have to be effective for them to accept you, but you have this inner voice that tells you that you are a failure at writing, and actually that voice is not that helpful. as you think it is.
Where is this voice of yours from? Who does it remind you of? A parent who was too scared of failure who never tried anything? An overly critical teacher? Someone or something who told you that external success is everything and that doing something simply because it works for you, is it nothing? Who, or whatever, has gotten under your skin. They may be trying to help, but they need you to tell them quite firmly that they really need to calm down because they are doing the opposite of helping.
Your task is to recognize this inner critic. You will not be able to silence it, it will continue to ring, but you can observe it, separate it from you and show it to a small soundproof cell, and close it. He’ll find a key to get from time to time, but you just say, “Oh hi, you’re back, not today, thank you.” Do not dialogue with him or commit to him. This inner critic may also stop scolding you for insomnia. A gentler inner voice will help you sleep.
Instead, direct your energy toward your creativity. Wanting to do something, like it, enjoy it, is reason enough to invest your time in it. You don’t have to be good at it too. Judging yourself as good or bad is not really the point; the point is to do what you’ve always wanted to do. It can be very liberating to acknowledge this.
Feelings! They feel like a hassle when they are not what you want to have. But it is good that you have them because they can help guide your life towards self-realization, to be who you can be.
Because he is “numb to despair,” he knows something must change. Let’s see what else it could be. The next sentence worried me a bit: “How do I learn to enjoy what I have and stop feeling so empty?” It seems that instead of listening to how you feel, you are trying to silence yourself. When we silence our feelings, they tend to come back louder to be heard, so they can come back as depression; It seems that you are already suffering it. In the future, you can enjoy what you have, but not while you have forbidden yourself to continue doing the one thing you have always wanted to do in life.
When you re-commit to your writing, I suspect that you will feel less depressed and will be able to reconnect with other aspects of your life, such as your family. His work sounds great on paper, “a good career,” but he doesn’t enjoy it. If you can afford to do maybe less and more of what your entire body tells you to do, I think it would not only be better for you, but also for those around you.
Like the other people in your life, I don’t see you as a failure, but if you see yourself as one and you can’t silence the inner critic about it, then change your attitude towards failure. It’s okay to fail. It is necessary to fail. The person who never failed, never did anything.
You told me about that spark that remains in a gray landscape. Come on, let’s fan that spark, give it some oxygen.
Yehudi Menuhin said, “Anything you really want to do, and you love to do, you should do it every day. It should be as easy and natural as flying for a bird. And you can’t imagine a bird saying well, today I’m tired, I’m not going to fly ”.
Fly, please, fly.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism