Helplessness and Misery

I recently left my job at Redbubble and have been trying to figure out what to do next with my life. I want to take a break from full-time employment and I have enough of a nest egg saved up that I should be able to do so. However, like all nest eggs: it is finite. I want to extend it as long as possible.

This brings me to being curious about #VanLife. I got a video recommendation on youtube for a van tour, and I have been hooked on these videos for the past few days. By the way, I recommend checking it out. It is very entertaining.

While seeking more and more van life videos, I ran into a very interesting video: The Pros and Cons of Living in a Van. In this video, a young woman of 19 years of age explains that she has been living out of her van for the past few months, since moving away from her home after high school. She explains she had barely left her hometown before, and how she has really appreciated the amount of life experience she has gained since living in the van and roadtripping across the country.

Of course, as the video is titled "Pros and Cons", she eventually starts mentioning the cons. She explains how she has felt very suffocated in her van, and how this has basically sapped all motivation to do things she once used to enjoy.

She mentions the pain of cooking every day on a portable, propane-fueled stovetop, how she can't even sit up straight in bed, and how her faucet leaks every time she has to use the sink. So she eats bagels every morning in order to avoid doing dishes. It is very easy to tell that this is heavily impacting her. After all, she films this video from her hotel room which, in her own words, is more money than she should be spending – just to be able to escape her van.

I start really relating to this story, except that I do not and have never lived in a van - but I have felt just as suffocated I think. This suffocation for me, typically comes from my job. Sometimes, it might come from a relationship. I started trying to figure out the connection between our two situations and I landed on what I think is the commonality: helplessness.

I am not trying to call this person helpless - she is clearly very accomplished. It is more of a feeling: of being stuck, with no other options. I can imagine why she might feel this way: she put all of her money into this van, and was probably beginning to run out. Any modifications to the van in order to make her life easier would cost money and require tools that she probably could not easily access. If she just wants more space, she would have to get an entirely new van – not really an option either.

She attributes van life to her lack of motivation, but I want to take one step back and say that it is feeling helpless about a big part of her life: her housing. I want to say this because it aligns with own experiences. When I feel helpless about a big part of my life, like my job, I quickly start feeling demotivated and quite frankly miserable. Watching this young woman explain her situation and feelings so clearly really helped me gain perspective on my own experiences and I appreciate that she spent those 50 minutes of her life to do so.

I think that perhaps it is not just specific attributes of my job that somehow seep into my life and make me demotivated. Perhaps it is more that I feel helpless, stuck, and suffocated. This is not a rare feeling for me, it has happened at every place of employment I have had. It is a feeling of complete disempowerment. I want to change things but I do not know how or I try and I fail. Helpless.

Unfortunately, I do not know what to do about this feeling yet. I do not know if I can ever make it better or start to feel empowered. However, I do know there is one decision that I have made every time I feel this way and that I have never regretted:

Jumping ship.

I think it is important to recognize when you are feeling demotivated and when you are no longer excited about what you wake up to do every day – and to change it if you can.

Another concept that I have been thinking about lately is numbness. Dreading your lifestyle every day is an incredibly numbing experience. I do not want to be numb to life. If a movie is sad, I want to cry. If a sunset is beautiful, I want to smile.

I am also not sure if everyone starts to feel this helpless eventually, or if it is just some sort of neurodivergence I share with select few free spirits who get the opportunity to feel absolutely miserable when a situation is disempowering.

Anyway, I think I have rambled enough now. If you are reading this and need someone to talk to: please reach out. You can reach me on Twitter at @NickOnTheWeb.