Does life feel a little meaningless for you lately? Do your hobbies and interests no longer light a fire in you?
Even more important – have you lost sight of who you want to be?
Feeling lost in life is never a pretty sight, but it happens to all of us, even those who seem like they’ve got it all together.
Sometimes, the reasons are hard to admit to ourselves. It’s uncomfortable to own up to the possibility that we might be the cause of our own confusion and lack of direction.
But facing these difficult truths is the first step to getting back on solid ground. In fact, I see feeling lost as a good thing because it is a catalyst for change.
Here are 9 difficult to admit reasons why you might be feeling lost in life.
1) Living someone else’s dream
First up is a reason that’s hard to admit, which is that the life you’re living isn’t really the one that makes your soul sing.
Because the goals and dreams you’re working towards aren’t yours – they’re someone else’s.
Maybe you’re a doctor because your parents insisted on it. But really, you’d rather compose music in your own studio.
Or maybe you’ve agreed to live in the suburbs because your partner wanted it. But you’re a city mouse, so you feel out of place where you are.
Given situations like these, it’s easy to see how we might feel disoriented and lost after a while.
See, for a life to feel full and on track, it has to be authentic. That’s why the next point is a crucial one…
2) Resisting self-reflection
If you haven’t done some honest-to-goodness soul searching recently, well, now might be a good time.
After all, whenever travelers get lost, isn’t that when they sit down and take a long, hard look at their map? Don’t they stop and study the terrain?
This reminds me of Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild, which I think is one of the best books to read when you’re feeling lost.
It’s a memoir that begins with the author feeling stuck in life, so she goes on a mission to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Along the way, she gets lost a few times and does a lot of self-reflection.
It was the perfect account of a journey to healing and self-discovery.
You don’t have to go on a hike like that, though. I simply urge you to sit with your thoughts. Look at your actions and decisions so far. Ask yourself tough questions and accept the answers, no matter how unpleasant.
Self-reflection might not be a walk in the park, but it will definitely give you the clarity you need to move forward.
3) Being too hard on yourself
This one is something I relate to deeply. I used to be a perfectionist. I wanted my work to be of the highest standard.
Naturally, because I could never reach perfection, I was constantly talking down to myself.
“That’s terrible. Is this the best you can do?”
“The presentation went well but it doesn’t really count because I stumbled on the last part.”
Pretty soon, I was feeling lost. If I can’t do things perfectly, is it even worth going on?
So, I get it. It’s hard to admit you’re self-sabotaging because you’re letting your inner critic win.
These days, I’m all about progress, not perfection. It feels so much more expansive because a progress-oriented mindset allows me to make mistakes and be gentle with myself.
4) Being afraid of change
I have a friend who is the very picture of this. She had a crippling fear of change, so much so that she turned down a great career opportunity because she was scared of:
- Moving to a new location
- Taking on new responsibilities
- Dealing with new people
- Not being able to perform well in the new role
Basically, she wanted things to stay the same. At the same time, she felt stuck.
Have you ever felt this way? Maybe you want to move forward, but there are many fears holding you back?
Look, you might want things to stay the same, but the reality is, the world will go on spinning, with or without you.
Sooner or later, you’ll feel a sense of disconnectedness. You might even feel like you’re a figure in a snow globe. All around you, there’s movement. But you’re inside the bubble, just watching it all pass by.
The first step out of that bubble is to remember this: fear of change is just that – a fear. And as with any fear, the only antidote is courage. Be brave enough and take small steps outside your comfort zone.
Learn how to be flexible by making small changes to your day to day life. Then as you gain courage, work up to the bigger changes.
5) Choosing to be distracted
This is another one I struggled with in the past, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.
Never have we been as distracted as we are today. With just a tap on our devices, we can get lost in the rabbit hole of social media posts, reels, games, and never-ending TV series episodes.
Nothing wrong with indulging in these every now and then. They do offer a welcome break when we’ve got a lot on our minds.
But – too much of it and we can get lost. Because when we use them as an escape, we’re not doing the real but rewarding work of dealing with our emotions and problems.
Aside from that, all of those distractions can do a real number on our mental health. The constant stream of information and fast-changing images can lead to a state of mental chaos.
And that’s exhausting. Not to mention that it leaves us with little time and energy for real soul nourishment – our relationships and goals.
Plus, it’s not just about the time spent on these platforms, but also about how they influence our self-perception, expectations, and decisions.
This brings me to another subtle yet profound way we might feel lost in life…
6) Buying into media representations
Let’s face it, the media is a powerful entity that shapes society. How?
By shaping our perceptions of reality.
The images we see on ads and billboards, the perfect lives curated on social media…all of that can set standards of what our lives should look like.
If we’re not careful, absorbing all of those can make us think that our life doesn’t match up. Then we begin feeling inadequate and lost.
Of course, it’s not easy to admit that. It’s not easy to admit you feel out of place because your body isn’t the “right” shape. Or you feel like you’re at the bottom rung of the ladder because you still don’t own a house at age 40.
That’s why I always advocate for media literacy. Knowing how to discern the intentions behind media representations can make a real difference in keeping us grounded.
7) Neglecting self-care
How about self-care? Are you taking the time to fill your cup?
Sometimes, it’s just a matter of knowing when you’re running on empty and need a break.
Life can get demanding. All the responsibilities we need to attend to can make us forget the number one person who needs our attention – ourselves.
When you take care of yourself, physically and mentally, you’re more in tune with your needs.
To that end, I strongly urge you to reconnect with your passions. No matter how busy life is, make time for them, whether it’s art, sports, or collecting stamps. Our hobbies go a long way in refreshing us and keeping us full.
8) Staying in toxic relationships
Are the people in your life dragging you down?
As hard as it is to admit, a toxic relationship can easily be the reason why you feel lost. Maybe you know something’s wrong, but you just don’t know how serious its effects could be. And so you let it be.
The harsh truth: toxic relationships are destructive, both physically and emotionally.
They put us in a constant state of fight-or-flight or outright conflict. You can just imagine how damaging that is on our mental health.
If you’re in a toxic relationship, it might be time to assess whether it’s worth staying there. If it’s worth the constant feeling of being lost.
9) Lacking a sense of purpose
Finally, let’s get to a really difficult-to-admit reason why we feel lost – a missing sense of purpose.
It’s an existentialist issue. If we don’t know what we’re here on earth for, of course we’ll be drifting aimlessly.
It’s not easy to face up to the fact that we don’t know what our “why” is.
But you know what? That’s the beauty of being human. We don’t have to find our “why”; we can create it ourselves!
And it all begins with self-reflection. Get to know yourself. Understand what drives you and makes your heart beat a little stronger. Think about what you want to contribute to the world.
Trust me, your sense of purpose isn’t some mysterious treasure hiding in the bottom of the ocean. It’s right within you; all you have to do is listen.