In this morning’s column, I replied to a letter from a man who felt his life was meaningless and empty because he had not married and had children. He felt like a “loser” and “failure,” he’d withdrawn from people he cared about, and he dreaded bumping into old friends whose kids are now teenagers. We gave some good advice, but I think the topic is worth discussing some more.
Despite how the letter writer might feel, he’s far from alone in his status as single and without kids. Many of you fit one or both of those categories, some by choice and some by circumstance. Many of us do have a partner and kids and may still feel the same sort of meaninglessness the LW talked about. Having one’s own family is no more a guarantee for fulfillment as it is a guarantee for being loved and cared for in old age.
How and where you find meaning will be a reflection of your values, and, obviously, what may be meaningful for one person will not necessarily be meaningful for someone else. But, generally speaking, investing in causes that are important to you can create a sense of meaning and purpose, investing in relationships (familial, platonic, romantic, collegial), building a career that utilizes your talents and skills and supports something of interest to you, and spending time doing that which feeds your soul and spirit (for some that might mean practicing a religion and for others it could mean being outdoors) can give a sense of meaning to one’s life. How and where do you find meaning?
P.S. In the periods of my life when I questioned the path I was on and the meaning of it all, this book was always a guiding light.