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I need a narrative or some kind of master, in this way...

 
The point of this narrative must be that it gives me some kind of identity or goal. I understand a job can be part of this, or so can something like an educational goal, as could, I suppose, having a family or a hobby (not that those are comparable).
 
Whatever it is that this constitutes has to challenge me or build me and to form my identity and advance me. I think it must have a sense of progression or of building, but none of my jobs I have had have ever been considered by me as a form of identity, or who I am, though they obviously are part of my life.
 
Right now I'm about to graduate and I am going to try and get a job so now it feels like there's nothing in my life, no narrative.
 
It kind of constitutes a challenge to my being. I felt like if I didn't get a certain grade, I was going to have to kill myself.
 
Now I have nothing and I am filling the days with fantasies of drug abuse and silly spending (which I want to act on), stupid wastes of time like sleeping all day or messing around the Internet, drawing or reading (which are productive, I guess) but I feel so lost and dead and hopeless. I feel like if I got into drugs or something, that'd be it, if it fulfilled my narrative, it'd be me. I've started this kind of regime of loads of exercise and counting calories, and I haven't lost much weight, but that's what's (literally) consuming me right now.
 
I'm looking for a job but it feels false and like it doesn't mean anything to the narrative.
 
This feels like I am omitting a whole chunk of the story but I feel like I could write forever.
 
I just always need something to fill the emptiness and the dead feeling. Can anyone relate? Is there anything I can do or should do?
 
ETA: I don't do drugs! I'm just mentioning my thoughts on/of them. Not that they wouldn't fuck up my life or anything, just sayin'.
Edited by EyeMindBeingGrim
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I'm curious why drugs could be a narrative. Drugs don't advance you. Though, I guess addiction is a challenge. Please don't do drugs! 

 

I think I know what you mean. You need something that defines your life? Defines you? Challenges you, encourages growth (in some way, negative or positive)?

 

About 4 years ago, I broke down my narrative to it's simplest form. After feeling empty for a long time, I suddenly realized that I was put on this earth to serve others. That sounds terrible, but it's true. I am a nurturer, a giver. My talents lie in serving others and helping to make others' lives better. I naturally gravitate toward a cause. It took a lot of soul searching to come to this conclusion though, especially cause it feels funny to say "I was made to serve other people" when we live in a society that values individualism so highly. 

 

Anyway, so I broke it down. How did I do that? I thought and thought and thought. What makes me happiest? What do those situations look like? Why do they make me happy? What gives me purpose in life? 

 

I started thinking that I love my cats. Caring for them gives me purpose. Then I realized that all my friends use me as their counsellor, and I like it. Why do I like it? Because I love to help those in need. I kept thinking about these things that make me happy. And then I realized the common idea in all of them is serving others. 

 

Now that I know this, I don't feel so empty and lost. Before I knew this, I felt like I had no narrative to my life. Until I was about 18, I felt empty, isolated from everyone else, without direction. Now my simple narrative is " to serve others" and I build my life around that narrative. I try to engage in experiences that challenge me and encourage growth, while sticking to what makes me feel fulfilled

 

So, some branches of my narratives are that I'm a girlfriend, I'm a nursing student, I'm a friend, and I'm a cat mommy (don't laugh at me!). 

 

Does any of that make sense? 

 

I just realized that all of my narratives involve relationships. But that seems natural for me, as someone who bases their life around serving other people. 

 

I think you should break down what makes you happiest in life. Maybe not "happy" per se, but what makes you feel contented? What was it about school that made it into a narrative? 

 

This eating/exercising thing you've got going on probably doesn't feel like a narrative because it's a bit hollow. Unless you suddenly realize your passion for fitness, and why you have that passion, it's kind of just a thing you do, you know what I mean? Like, I like to walk around, but walking itself is not a narrative in my life. It's part of my narrative though, because by caring for myself, I'm able to care for others. See how I made that activity fit my core narrative?

 

Finally, I just want to say, take it easy, hun. The first year after graduating can be mightily depressing for new grads. You're shifting from being a student, which you've been pretty much your whole life, to being a grown-up. A real grown-up! 

 

I think what you're getting at in your post is a very big question, and a large experience. An experience of emptiness and trying to fill yourself up. I think everyone has been where you are right now, just with possibly not as much intensity. Either that, or I'm making this entirely too big of a deal and you had something way simpler in mind. 

 

I hope this made some sense. I hope you know that I know how you feel, even if I'm not explaining myself correctly. Please tell me if I'm making no sense or if I'm way off the mark. 

 

Also, I know what you mean about the job search feeling false and not linked to the narrative. I think that's cause you are just looking for any job, not a particular job. That's the trouble with an arts degree, it can literally take you anywhere. Which some people find nice. But that can be overwhelming and scary. Suddenly you have all these options, yet no options at all, you know? 

 

Anyway, I'm blabbering. 

Edited by Parapluie
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Life only has the narrative you impose on it.  There is no universal or inherent reason that you would have one handed down to you.

 

Nonetheless, if you drop the drugs, you have already written out above what you want your own narrative to be and not to be. Why don't you go from there?

 

It's no one's elses duty to give your life structure. You need to own your choices. It's a feature, not a bug, of being mentally ill.

 

ETA: I don't think you are asking someone to do it as their duty, but I have a migraine, and I can't think of the right word. Maybe it is that is a duty you have to perform yourself.

Edited by crtclms
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  • 5 months later...

Thank you for your answers M@ri, Parapluie, crtclms and saveyoursanity!

 

M@ri, unfortunately, I can't respond to your post any more.

 

Parapluie, I get what you mean. I want a challenge, I want a progression. I have certain roles, I guess. The thing about school being a narrative is that it is telic, I guess. The eating and exercising thing is a bit hollow. There's no progression, really. Gain, lose, get cut, get fat, whatever.

 

crtclms, I get what you mean. I didn't take it the wrong way, I hope, anyway. I'm trying to find the narrative, not that I should have been 'gifted' one or whatever. It's just hard to find one that I feel is 'worthy', I suppose.

 

saveyoursanity, thank you for that too. I'll keep looking. It's just hard not to have a belonging place to rest your head, you know?

 

Sorry for the delayed responses. I haven't much by way of explanation that sounds legitimate, so...

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I think I've been somewhere near where you are in the past, and have looked at different meaning, significance, purpose, direction questions and issues over many years.
And noted that while having an absolute cause one totally believed in did simplify life massively, I couldn't exercise that option: carrying too much of a tendency to ask questions and doubt.
The alternate "direction" of just going with the flow of meaning purpose and priority as displayed in my local society was never going to work either.  Belonging , fitting in and being part of the crowd does have its attractions, but if you can't see the point of what the mainstream gets excited about, or considers valuable, then it can get very wearisome and stressful.
"Are we having fun, yet?"  (something I arrived at towards the end of my efforts to "fit in")
“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. (Krishnamurti)

 

Part of my directing narrative has undoubtedly been that of "searcher", as saveyoursanity suggested.

"Have I got a purpose in life?  Yes, looking for one"

And then there's then mundane but real purpose and mission of keeping a roof over my head, food on the table and bills paid.

 

Higher principles?

For me, and this is only personal, I've come to appreciate the attitude of an artist I admire, Mr Rowland Emett.

He was once asked what was the purpose or final product of all his work

His reply I paraphrase.

"It's about putting smiles on other people's faces."

And that's far broader a thing than just being a comedian.

 

The other story image that has meant a lot to me is "The Star Thrower" or "The Starfish Story"

Often quite modified from the much longer original, and without acknowledgement

See.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Star_Thrower

 

 

starfish-story-websize.jpg

 

It works for me but I don't prescribe it for all.

And it's very non-specific.  It leaves the reader no directions as to how to find where they can make a little bit of difference,

For a long time I found that in my work as an optometrist, but I did burn out at that after 28 years.

 

Chris.

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Well, thanks for those responses also, Titania and Emettman.

 

Titania: I'm glad you found narratives that way, except to say I'm guided by chance or Fate or whatever, so I can't make it happen! In any case, I don't have anything ruled out I suppose. Except to say, I know where I've been or am and it doesn't feel like living. It looks like luxury, but it hurts me a lot. I can't even rule out the places I've been and the things I've chosen as false and unreal because I don't even know that I was right, because I don't know anything.

 

Emettman: I see this story, though I'm not sure I understand it. In a sense I want rescuing, to be honest. But yes, I can see that either going along with the crowd or doing whatever just to fit in seems empty. Equally, one narrative seems a bit over-simple. Of course, I'm trying to advance myself in some ways, like at least saving some money, or getting some experience in work, but in the meantime, I'm examining new directions and so on.

 

In any case, I feel like I'm really being super awkward and unprogressive here, so I'm sorry for that. I have now got a job, but it makes me despair and I don't like it one bit, but at least I'm getting paid some tiny sum. To be quite honest, it makes me turn away from the world even more because everything seems false. I'm kind of paralysed.

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I have thought in the past that much of "purpose" falls under the same umbrella, whether desirable or not; having goals one desires just makes it less odious and more fulfilling to achieve them. I've felt the emptiness, the narrative gaps, you are talking about, where I felt adrift, without passion or purpose. After having major, consuming things to focus myself on for a long time, when the pressure had ended, I looked around and found myself in the middle of a tangled mess I couldn't make heads or tails of: surrounded by options, yet cut adrift from the part that might have spoken for myself. In burying myself with goals, I had come to define myself through them, and when they were all taken away, I realized I had no sense of identity.

 

I've learned that I can't rely on anything outward. I have hobbies, and I make time for others, but I recognize that they're inconstant. Anything can be taken away at any moment. The only thing I will always have is myself (at least, if I lose myself I won't know the difference anymore, which, while not entirely the same thing, is fairly close to all intents). Therefore, I'm trying to sit with myself and establish an internal dialogue, with the hope that eventually I may find something, like Parapluie said, that resonates with me, with which I can reside, if not permanently, at least in the long term.

 

I'm not sure it will ever happen; I don't think I'm made to stay in one place for long. The inconstant nature of life is, itself, becoming something of a comfort. If I find something that's not to my liking, or my narrative becomes confused, I have learned the hard way that I can start again, and sometimes just trying to keep my head up (holding jobs I've hated, struggling with family disputes, money issues, etc.) leads me in educational directions. I don't mean to be flippant about struggling, or suggest that the thoughts you're struggling with aren't important. It's just that the process of having my eyes opened, for me, has begun from just getting by for awhile, in the gaps between.

 

In a way, hackneyed as it is, I'm saying that I'm not what I do. I'm what I am. My actions flow from myself, not the other way around.

 

I hope any of this is relevant, and not just projecting. I can speak only for myself, but these experiences have been painful, and I do relate to what you're saying.

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