Managing the existential questioning after the holiday period

Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

The last two weeks have been a lethargic period for many people. For me, I’m noticing that I’m probably more frazzled than I was before this ‘rest period’ started.

It is often the period of rest that allows issues to surface. When we are too busy, we don’t give space for the bigger questions in life to arise. For me, this has been a new layer of existential questioning of who I am. I think deep down I knew I was due such a moment of crisis. Knowing this does not make it any less confusing or painful.

I look at this philosophically – I wouldn’t be able to handle this level of confusion compared to the version that I was a year ago. As we grow, life gives us new, larger challenges. So in other words, I’ve been given a bigger challenge because I’m now able to face it, compared to before.

I’ve learnt to let go of the small things much better than I used to. Usually, if I have something bother me, within a day or so I’ve probably forgotten about it. But with this, the feeling of confusion and fatigue has lingered for over a few weeks now.

The temptation is to retreat from the world. I could tell myself that I need my ‘me time’ and to block out everything and everyone else. But with maturity and wisdom, I realise that this often actually compounds the problem. I can’t ‘outthink my problems’ and my tendency to withdraw only makes me disassociate further from the world. I also feel worse because I am no longer doing the things I enjoy either.

I’ve had a pretty sociable last two weeks. Considering I spent it in Belgium, I ended up seeing quite a few sets of friends over the last two weeks, rather than the self-imposed isolation which it could have been.

I’m very grateful for this. Going out and seeing friends, especially when I don’t feel like it, breaks the monotony of being in my head. It has allowed me to remember that there is a world out there, and the cool winter breeze helps me ground back into reality.

There is no escaping the fear and confusion. It is part of the process. Running away from it does not make it go away, it just merely prolongs the experience. But neither does trying to fix it, or rushing through the process to the ‘everything’s fine’ moment. Such thoughts risks us falling into denial about how we really feel.

Instead, I’m content to experience the experience I’m meant to be having. And, this does not mean that I need to pause my life.

Truly, one of the greatest levels of mastery in life is being able to do things you commit to, even when you don’t feel like it. This can be as grand as writing a 100,000 word novel or as small as doing the dishes after having dinner.

At the same time, a key part of this is being gentle with oneself. I recognise that I’m not at my tip top shape, so I don’t force myself to be. I’ve spent more time laying in bed than I usually would, sometimes into the afternoon. This might not necessarily be the ‘healthiest’ thing, but it’s also comforting. Sometimes comforting is nice and okay.

If we never took time to question what we are doing in life, we would never do anything new or different. Questioning ourselves is a key part of our existence. It is something to embrace, rather than escape.

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