How to Work Through an Existential Crisis


I had a mini existential crisis two weeks ago.

It had been building up for a while, finally erupting when I spoke of it out loud during a brief, scattered bedtime conversation with my half asleep husband.

One thing I learned is that you can work through an existential crisis by talking it out, even if it’s with someone who is barely listening.

Sometimes this works best because you don’t really need advice– you just need a sounding board for your own reflection, analysis, and inner voice. (We always seek for answers outside of ourselves, but that’s not where answers live.)

Here’s what else I learned while talking to my sleepy husband:

1. Don’t abandon the people you love in your quest for answers.

Me: What if we never have kids? I mean, what if what we have now is all it’ll ever be? Would this marriage be enough for me to be happy?

Him: You’re seriously making me feel like sh*t right now.

2. The problem is never what you think it is. Dig deeper.

Me: Sorry, I think I said that because I’m depressed. I don’t know why I’m depressed though. I think it’s because you were outside grilling and having dinner with the neighbors while I was here folding laundry.

Him: You should have come out with us.

Me: No, actually…I wanted to be alone. But I wished I was working on a craft project instead of folding laundry. I think I’m depressed because I don’t have enough time for crafting.

Him: So work on your craft projects; no one is stopping you.

Me: Maybe it’s not about crafting. Maybe it’s about not having enough time for things that are important to me. It’s like I don’t have enough balance in my life.

Him: [Silence.]

Me: I mean, yeah, I can hang out and grill with you guys. Or do more crafting. But I think what I really miss is what I had in my 20′s– being part of a group of friends that works towards a common goal. So I think I need to be more active in church, or join an activist group or something.

Him: [Snore.]

Me: I need more than just a good job, a nice apartment, and some hobbies to be happy. I wanted those things last year, but now that I have them, it doesn’t feel like enough. I need to be working on something meaningful, and making meaningful connections with people while doing it.

Him: [Fart.]

3. Know when to seek, and when to let go.

Me: I think I’m having an existential crisis.

Him: [Half asleep, mumbling.] Kim, you’re always having an existential crisis.

Me: Oh yeah! I forgot. That’s so true.

…And that’s when I fell fast asleep, relieved that I didn’t have to figure it all out right then and there. The weight of the world was off my shoulders, at least until tomorrow.

And then I remembered: Questions, answers, more questions– that’s how life works. As long as we’re consciously seeking, we won’t be stuck forever.

Your Turn: Have you ever worked through an existential crisis? How did you come to a place of peace?

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6 Responses to How to Work Through an Existential Crisis

  1. Pingback: Actually, You Don’t Need More Time | a brave life

  2. Pingback: Accepting the Purpose (and Limitations) of This Season in Your Life | a brave life

  3. DIL says:

    Second thought. Is it possible to want too much?

  4. DIL says:

    More to the point. If you need a sounding board who isn’t nearly asleep, there is one available. We haven’t really talked in a very long time.

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