Aging and needing to live a "full life" is terrifying me


#21

I want to clarify about the anxiety, depression, and therapy thing. I know that I have anxiety and depression, and I have seen multiple therapists. So far, they have not helped in any material way, and I’ve been seeing them for a long time (and have tried different therapists as well as medications and other treatments).

So I’m not discounting those issues. I’m saying more that I have looked at those issues, and I don’t know how to fix them or make them better. I have no passion or interest. That is likely at least in part due to the depression. But knowing it is “the depression” does not fix it, and I have not been able to fix it. So I still have to figure out what to do.


#22

And that’s a bummer because it definitely puts you a little deeper in the hole you are trying to climb out of, and probably one that we can’t help out all that much with. Maybe other forumgoers have experience with depression, or have loved ones who do, and can give you tips. It’s unfortunately out of my area of knowledge.

But let’s talk about passion. You seem a little hung up on this concept, I think maybe to your detriment. Maybe we can find things that give us a moment of happiness, of respite. I’m a fairly even tempered guy, my lows aren’t real low but my highs aren’t all that high, for the most part. I occasionally get sparked by something, like I’ll hear a song and then want to put it on endless repeat for six hours. Though that may just be some weird OCD thing.

Anyway what I’m saying is, let’s start with what we can reach without stretching too far. Don’t think about what 90 year old Sly will think as he breathes his last. You can build your way up to that, if it continues to be a concern, but don’t let it hobble what could be a decent start. Do you like D&D miniatures? Maybe try painting some! I am shit-awful at painting things, but I found that out after I ended up with a bright orange dwarf cleric.

Maybe to get out of the house, just go take a walk around your block. Look at the trees, listen to the birds, take it easy. Baby steps. Might be pleasant.


#23

Actually the part where you make a breakthrough and find joy again is when you stop doing things you feel are wastes of time and do those harder, more complicated things that you feel aren’t.

I tend to think as a rule of thumb that making things feels so much better than consuming them. Consumption is wonderful and there’s so much to consume today, but to make something of your own has a kind of fulfillment you just don’t get from other endeavors.

Build something, make something, write something. Just go write a shitty scif-fi novel; you’ll surprise yourself with how good your “bad writing” really is. Go start composing music, or learn programming, contribute to Wikipedia or some other public repository and get involved with them. Do something flagrantly and deliberately creative but non-productive, i.e., not work, no expectation of renumeration, not a job.

You’re probably thinking, well, i don’t want to do anything. But i’d bet that’s not entirely true. Think back from before you felt this way, remember some aspirations you used to have, those half-baked ideas you set aside years ago that you never worked on or set aside because i have to be Practical and Responsible, and just … start one of them. I mean don’t ‘start the process’ of starting, just frelling buy/bake/write/compose do whatever it is, as imperfectly as you do it. What the hell. Want to own a bake shop? Hell, you’re an adult, go rent the damn space and start getting equipment to bakerize it up. Get a loan for 50k-500k and start a fun side business; why not? I mean, what can you lose, right? You already feel bad and the heat death of the universe is going to erase everything eventually anyway. Just try it! Just breaking routine for a few days feels like a whole new world is possible again.

Another thing to remember is all the successful people who are much, much older than you, still plugging along and creating and making and doing and being handsome/athletic/successful whatever. It’s not the end. It might be a bit harder, more deliberate, but it’s still possible!


#24

Whoa. Enidigm is ballsier than I am.


#25

Yea, guys like me…yea, right.


#26

I mean seriously though, that’s the fun of being an adult. We get to do shit like open businesses and buy boats and get pilot’s licenses and try to destroy the world! No reason not to try!


#27

Get a dog. A dog will love you to pieces and now your job is to take care of it!

I’d also tell you that there’s a good chance as you get older that the idea of achieving isn’t as important. I have fun going for a bike ride but I’m not about to train for a bike race.

I will say that work keeps me going for the most part. It’s the forward momentum in my life. It’s what puts me to bed at night and gets me up in the morning.


#28

While I don’t feel it as “anxiety and fear” necessarily, I certainly can empathize with the feeling of “Am I really using my time as best I can?” About five years ago, I took a hard look at my life and decided the answer to that was “No.” I was not fulfilled in my job, and I didn’t have much of a life outside it. So, I quit, and I’ve been using my time since to do those things that I once categorized under “If I just had the time, I’d do X/Y/Z.” (Longer version of this in a blog post I wrote a couple years ago on the subject.) I’m not saying my life is perfect now, by any means, but it’s a metric boatload better than it was. I do some volunteer work, I spend more time taking care of myself, I get to play lots of games and read lots of books and watch lots of fun videos. And it all happened because I looked around at my life and didn’t like what I saw.

Now, obviously not everyone can afford to retire early, or has the temperament to do so. I’m not suggesting that my path is right for anyone else. But I am saying that the fact that you’re asking the question is a good first step. It may take you a while to find exactly the right changes to make…I certainly had a couple of false starts…but the fact that you’re questioning and looking for the changes is the right way to begin. The posts above have some good suggestions on things to try, and I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to think of plenty more on your own. Try some out and start the change!


#29

First let me say that I feel you. I know exactly what you mean. What the hell are we supposed to be doing? Who knows? How does any of this even work?

Semi-serious suggestion: have children. 👶

Once you do, you will never be bored again. Ever. At any moment. For the rest of your life.

What I suggest, and what worked for me in the past in these scenarios, is to force yourself to go out and do activities with other people.

YES! This ☝

Ideally in your areas of interest, but honestly it could be anything, and sometimes it’s good to explore things you aren’t even sure you like: hiking? book club? dances? habitat for humanity? Anything works, indoors or outdoors, but the key part is you MUST force yourself to go out and do things with other people. Literally treat it as a project that someone has assigned to you. Being by yourself too much is just not healthy for human beings in general.


#30

As someone who is in the presence of other people damn near every moment of a given day, I treasure opportunities to have some time to myself. But hey, YMMV.


#31

Let me guess: you have children?

This is also good advice. Even if you can’t find other people to take on an activity with, go for a long walk every day.


#32

I do. And really the only time I get just to myself is the time after they and my wife go to bed until the time I go to bed. But this thread isn’t about me, and getting some time spent with others is valuable if you live alone.


#33

Sure, but if you think about it, really every topic is about you. I mean me.


#34

I am not shy about tossing around opinions and anecdotes of my own in many threads, but in this case since SlyFrog is trying to explain some genuine distress about his place in life, I’m trying not to overdo it. As it is, I’ve probably commented more than my share in here and should probably back off for a while.


#35

Aw no you guys give good advice. I really appreciated the honest advice everyone gave in my midlife crisis topic. It helped me a lot.


#36

Right now, do you find yourself filled with regrets about your 20s?

If not, I think it’s very unlikely you’ll find yourself filled with regrets in the future. Unless you suddenly happen to do something uncharacteristically regrettable, like kill someone aboard a homemade submarine.


#37

Damn I was going to post the same thing. Stop consuming and start creating. The only thing I will differ on with Enidgm is that you don’t have to create something great, it doesn’t have to be your life’s work or something. Heck go out to your backyard and dig a big hole or something. Chop some wood. Plant a garden. Bonus points if what you are creating gets you moving and outdoors during the process. Getting dead tired, physically, can be an incredible stress reliever. Also bonus points if what you create is polar opposite of what you do for a living (don’t go create more software if you are a software dev, don’t garden if you are a landscape architect, etc)

I think this feeling that Slyfrog is having is the genisis for the whole ‘maker’ movement thats taken off in the last few years. It’s definitely not a unique feeling.


#38

There are times I feel pressure from society (or what I imagine society to be) to make something more of myself.
But regrets about my 20’s?
I’m 57 now. I pine for my 20’s. I dream of my 20’s.
I fucked up all over the place back then, and recall it all vividly and fondly.

Of course the difference is, back then while I was fucking up all over the place, I was out in the world doing it, with and among friends and loved ones, and even enemies. I don’t regret the bad times. I wouldn’t trade my misspent 20’s for anything.

But at some point, I decided to take a much safer route, after I got tired of “getting hurt”. [yes, that was my cop-out.] So yep, I’m living a much safer life (emotionally that is), not getting really badly hurt, and trying not to hurt others as much as I used to.

But holy shit, I do get lonely sometimes. I wouldn’t mind a visit from an old enemy at times.


#39

Author at conference, Kevin Henkes, said something that I loved. He talked about how adult lives have sped up but children are still ever waiting. Then he said, “The imagined life spent while waiting can be as powerful and profound as the life lived.”


#40

@SlyFrog
I am kind of in a similar situation with one big difference. I do not fear death. Well the actual act of dying itself can be worrisome, but once I am most definitely being referred to in the past tense, I am actually looking forward to that. I do not want this to happen any time soon, but I just look at it as the next big adventure.

As for lack of passion and whatnot, I am most definitely experiencing that. I just mostly play video games and very recently got a netflix account because I am just bored of almost everything out there in video game land.

I just view my life as a ship sailing across an empty ocean. It is moving quickly, but the scene never changes. The years are rolling by to what end? I am getting older. My only concern now is my retirement. Will I have enough money live comfortably? I hope so. I do not want to be old and alone, struggling to make ends meet.

I am just aiming to try and enjoy life. I do not need to leave my mark on the world. If I die of old age and have been enjoying my life up until that point, its a win. That is all that really matters.

Some people have a bucket list. For me I only have one thing on it. I would like to tour Egypt at some point. Seeing an Total eclipse was on that list, but I did that over the summer. And that is about it.

Looking at my life from the outside, it does not even deserve a foot-note in the history books and I am ok with that. Once I am long dead, and my existence, in all its forms have been erased from this world, this is of no concern of mine.

Sure, I would love to have a much more meaningful life, and who knows what the future has in store, but as it stands now, It is all good.