We’ve all heard the cliched phrase “life is a rollercoaster ride”, and for good measure, because the moment we’re feeling the highest of highs, and luck is on our side, we just know that right around the corner, a gremlin is about to wreak chaos in our life. And that’s perfectly fine! Because we expect it to happen. We know that when it rains, it fucking pours, and when there’s a rainbow, it fucking shines. Excuse the language.
But what happens when that rollercoaster ride remains neutral? There you are, in the carriage, strapped in, going straight towards…nowhere. There’s no end to it. You’re just “there”, not experiencing anything. You don’t get the highs (passion, joy, love, and excitement) and you don’t get the lows (anger, disappointment, hurt, and anxiety). Forever stuck in neutral.
Let me step away from this metaphor and talk more naturally about this idea.
Are you feeling unfulfilled in your life as you read these words? Are you getting up every single day grudgingly because you’re stuck in a place or a situation that doesn’t bring you much joy? Can you even remember the last time you pursued something meaningful? Something that truly made your bones feel alive? Something that made you stay up all night because it was THAT important to work on?
If not, then you’re probably living neutrally.
The reason I’m asking you is that I lived this way for 2 long years. I had everything I wanted. Maybe you do too. Maybe you own a home. Have a loving husband. Wonderful kids. Friends. Family. A job. Money for vacations. Literally, you have everything and anything a human needs these days, yet you’re miserable. How the fuck is that possible? Again, sorry for the language.
No one around me understood why I was so unhappy.
I had the 6-figure job everyone was talking about. The community I always wanted. A great and supportive husband. A wonderful baby boy who brought me so much joy. Friends I could call to hang out with or go to concerts with. Parents who would babysit whenever we needed them to. I owned two homes, and two cars. I went on 3-4 vacations a year. Yet I was miserable inside, feeling unfulfilled. Gosh, I must be SUCH a horrible person to even say that out loud, aren’t I?
But let’s remember that misery does NOT equal ungratefulness. Oh, my goodness how grateful I was for everything I had. In fact, I was so grateful, that I did everything I could to make sure I’d continue having all those things. I made sure to keep my job by working hard, getting degrees, and adding skills to my resume so that I could, in turn, own a home, a couple of cars, and go on vacations. I made sure to keep all my relationships healthy and free of conflict by getting super good at small talk. And I certainly made sure to not express how unhappy I was with life because then I’d look like that ungrateful bitch that’s ruining everyone’s good time.
But as it turned out, I was following the wrong objectives. I was focusing on all the wrong things.
First off, I focused on how to maintain a big home, or worse yet get a bigger one (when deep inside it was giving me anxiety).
Secondly, I focused on how to get my next promotion (when I honestly hated the path I was on).
Thirdly, I focused on how to make time for people’s invitations (when I didn’t even like most of them).
Lastly, I focused on how to keep the conversations light (when all I wanted was deep & meaningful discussions).
I was dragging my soul through the dirt behind me, yelling at it “THIS is the life you want, why are you being SO difficult?!” I couldn’t reconcile my feelings. On one hand, this was the life that society deemed as a “success”, yet here I was grinding my teeth trying to make it through each day. What was wrong with me?
What is wrong with you?
Turns out, absolutely nothing.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably in a similar situation and you’re looking to find out what someone else did to restart their rollercoaster. That’s the first sign of knowing it’s time for a change. If you have tears in your eyes thinking about the situation you’re in, then you know it’s time for a change. It’s that simple. That’s when you know you have all the symptoms of feeling unfulfilled.
While I wish I could give you the exact step by step instructions to get out of your neutral rollercoaster, I’m not able to because I don’t know what it is you seek out of life. BUT what I can do is give you some insight, based upon my own experience, as to why you’re feeling this way, and to finally come to grips with the fact that you have to do something about it. Hopefully, that will give you enough information to exit this neutral rollercoaster you’re on and get into one that’s functioning properly.
Here are 6 reasons why you’re feeling unfulfilled:
1. You have mismatched values.
I chose to stay blind to this for a very long time. As the years went on, I was living life against all the values I believed in. The place I lived in, the company I worked for, and the people I surrounded myself with were all wrong for me. When I sat down with myself and thought about what mattered to me, I realized I was reaching a breaking point.
My work: I wanted to work for a company that I truly believed in, and that was making a positive social and environmental impact. As a very environmentally conscious consumer, who is very much against consumerism, here I was working for a company that had factories all over the world churning out millions of tons of SKUs that would eventually end up in landfills because let’s face it, most of the stuff people buy is pure crap they don’t need. I wanted to work for a Patagonia type of company, not an office supply store.
My city/culture: As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more conscious of the things that matter to me. Lowering my carbon footprint, practicing sustainability, reducing consumption, and fighting for social causes. The city & the culture I found myself in, displayed none of these ambitions. Consumerism is rampant in the United States. There are no signs of electric cars making a dent. Instead of society progressing on social justice (in all forms), it’s taking a huge step backward. I couldn’t justify owning two cars anymore & a lifestyle that demanded driving everywhere. I also couldn’t stand idle watching a country dismantle environmental protections, or not fighting for climate change.
My relationships: Because I’ve always had a hard time making friends and truly connecting with people, whenever I made a new friend, I made sure I went all out in keeping that relationship stable. Even if at some point I realized we had nothing in common and that I was annoyed in their presence, I continued to keep ties. I felt that if I had a history with someone, they deserved to be in my life, because let’s face it, bringing in new people in takes a herculean effort. I suffered and cringed through many endless superficial conversations that left me completely drained mentally. In fact, there was no one I could talk to about real substantial issues because as it turned out no one I knew was watching the news, reading books, or thinking about their existence. I found that unfortunately most people simply resorted to either gossip, celebrity news, or materialistic conversations. Sigh.
2. You carry society’s expectations on your shoulders.
Or your parents. Are you being influenced into working for Corporate America, or a Big Bank, because that’s the way to a “successful life”? Even though all you want to do is wait tables in order to have time to write a book about a big idea you have. I’ve been there. I wanted to pursue a degree in journalism, but my parents convinced me that a degree in Business Administration was the way to go. Yeah, it got me far and I achieved a lot. But very much at the expense of my soul.
Or are you being influenced into becoming an influencer, because that’s the most hyped-up job in the world right now? Even when deep down you know you won’t like the limelight because it would invite a shit ton of negativity in your life? If you’re being honest with yourself, all you want is to have a life that affords you what you need and allows you to do projects you absolutely love, even though no one will “follow” you. But you don’t want to accept that because it doesn’t feel glorious. You’re following society’s expectations, instead of listening to your own.
3. You’re not setting realistic expectations of yourself.
Then there’s the other side of the coin where you have such high expectations of yourself – expectations of greatness. You know where you want to go, but you’re completely paralyzed by the fact that you’re not there yet. You’re somewhere in a Chinese forest but you want to be with your feet in the sand in Florida. Something like that. You don’t know what it takes to get there. You don’t have the resources or the know-how. All you want to do is be the next J.K Rowling. Or Richard Branson. It’s easy to look at a finished product and forget all the million and one steps it takes to bring it to life. Everything you see around you, trains, planes, cranes (feeling rhymey) were once an idea in someone’s head until they decided to initiate the process of creation.
If you’re paralyzed by grandiose expectations of yourself, you’ll be extremely unfulfilled in life if they don’t come to pass at the time you expect them to. While dreaming big is a fantastic idea, setting realistic daily, weekly, and monthly goals are much more likely to revitalize you and keep you going. Realign the expectations you have of yourself with your current reality. You should definitely have something to work towards but if your immediate expectation is to be the next best American Novelist by the end of the year, you’re not setting realistic expectations. Start by writing up the first draft. That’s it.
4. You’re constantly on the comparison bandwagon.
Be honest, how much time have you spent today scrolling through social media? How many of these messages have you ingested?
“You too can quit your job and travel the world!”
“Ditch your boss and become your own boss”
“You can manifest anything you want in your life”
Because really, these types of messages have a tremendous impact on your state of mind. Seeing pictures of socialites, digital nomads, celebrities, and influencers on a daily basis can put anyone down. You start comparing your life to everyone else’s, and of course, your life is total shit compared to theirs, right? The comparison bandwagon is the most toxic ride you’ll ever get on, which is why you need to reduce the amount of time you spend on it.
I’m making a conscious effort to reduce my scrolling time significantly because I know I’m susceptible to all of that. Seeing others lead an “easier”, “richer”, “adventurous” life than I am makes me cringe inside. It makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong or that I’m not good enough to lead such a life. If you’re infinitely looking at other’s lives, you’re going to start believing that theirs is way more interesting than yours. Get off the damn comparison bandwagon.
Compare yourself only to your yesterday’s self.
5. You’re not working towards something.
Let’s not get into the whole “follow your passion” discussion since that’s arbitrary and just voodoo talk. Most of us don’t have a passion, so we’re just left out in the cold, watching all those passionate people live joyous lives. Yuck. When I say working towards something, I’m not talking about passion. Gosh, it took me 30 years to find something I’m passionate about, and the reality is that it could easily become something I’m NOT passionate about. Also, it’s not bringing me any income, so even if I’m following my passion, it will not feed my child. But I am working towards something – and it doesn’t involve making more money, which is usually the one common denominator we all have.
Personally, I’m working towards providing the absolute best content and offerings for introverts to become the best version of themselves. You have to work towards something other than amassing money in your bank account. Work towards writing a book, towards giving a speech, towards being a thought leader, towards learning how to code, towards understanding yourself better. Whatever it is, you’ll feel much more fulfilled in your life, because I bet, you’re just clocking in and out right now. An endless routine that’s sucking you dry inside out.
6. You don’t know who you are
Wow, that’s really an ambitious thing for me to say, isn’t it? I don’t know you so why would I assume you don’t know who you are? Because for many years I did not know who I was. And there’s absolutely no shame in that. In fact, it takes a while to figure out who we are – once those pesky 20’s are out of the way! I hear the 40’s and 50’s are the best decades ever. But going back to not knowing who you are. A few months ago, I realized that my Myers-Brigg type is INFJ. A whole world exploded in front of me. Then a few weeks later, I found out I’m an HSP. Holy double crap. I couldn’t contain my excitement at digging more into these.
Not only was I able to confirm that I wasn’t leading an authentic life prior to leaving everything behind, but it allowed me to come full circle in accepting myself. See, after being homeschooled throughout middle and high school, then being the party pooper that doesn’t like to party and drink during college, I had a hard time understanding how I fit in with society.
I questioned every decision I made, thinking it was the wrong one.
I questioned everyone’s intentions when they talked to me because I wasn’t confident in what I was bringing to the table. Furthermore, I didn’t give myself the opportunity to understand what made me, ME. I still have a while to go but I’m finally arming myself with the information I need to truly know what makes me tick.
You need to find a way to discover who you are, what you have to offer, and how to materialize it into the real world. This one takes time, but you can speed up the process by searching for things that interest you and then connecting the dots to really figure out how you want to spend your time. Once you figure it out, you’re going to be unapologetic about leading the life you want because it will mirror your personality.
These are just SOME of the reasons you’re feeling unfulfilled.
It could be 1 or it could be all of them combined. Or it could be many other reasons that I haven’t listed yet. From my own personal experience, these are the 6 reasons that have left me feeling unfulfilled. I’m constantly working on all of them simultaneously, little by little every single day. I like to think that one day I’ll cure myself and lead the life that I truly envisioned for myself all along.
Make your own list and analyze it to see what’s truly holding you back from leading the life you want.
Only then will you be able to take the needed steps to break free.