Picking yourself up when everything seems pointless

I wrote a little while ago about how marketing doesn’t matter. And how nothing seems to matter, except the people you love and the emotions you feel. I was on a bit of a downer. You know, we get in those moods where it’s like a film noir.


You sit on a cafe chair, drinking your coffee, chain smoking (except I don’t smoke) watching the world go by, thinking about it all. You have your notebook, and a pen, and there’s this great french word for how you’re feeling – ennui. The dictionary  definition being:

“a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement”

You don’t feel like working because nothing seems that interesting. You feel like resting, but you feel a bit restless. You don’t seem to think or care about very much. And your ennui continues.

There feels like there’s nothing worth saying.

You feel a bit lost from what you feel like you should be doing.

But then gradually, bit by bit, you come out of it again.

Yes, you know deep down that there’s not a lot of point to work, business, chasing things and everything else. Yes, you know that there seems to be lots of meaningless things and then you die.


BUT, eventually you feel that you might as well do something. You do need to snap out of that mood and you CAN do things.

I think there is a certain satisfaction from work, and you do get a feeling of purpose. I’m not saying all work. I mean corporate law is always going to be soul-destroying to most people.

I mean the kind of work that genuinely helps people DOES make us feel good. I feel that way after writing a good article. Or spreading ideas on a popular blog site (this one’s like shouting in a tin can, it’s small, but it does affect and move people). We can all feel that way. It might be when you make a sale. Or fix someone’s boiler. Or paint a wall. Or massage someone. Get out on stage and act. Or bake a cake or whatever.

I think one of the reasons humans have manged to create such advanced societies, and evolve as a species for so long, is because we’re programmed to help each other. We’re not designed to do nothing, to sit around all day on a beach. We’re not designed to be lazy. We get good feelings from helping others. That might be raising children, doing masterful work, helping other people meet their needs. That gives us satisfaction.

But there’s something that stops us from being satisfied… ourselves. Due to some baggage in our past weighing us down, we don’t do what we’re supposed to. And we get disconnected from what we’re here to do. Then you end up in a spiral of lots of drink, sleeping with people you don’t like and feeling grim because you’re not being honest with yourself.

The challenge that we all face throughout our lives is: “how can I make life function for me?” That means choosing work, relationships, friendships and accommodation that gets our needs met. And if something isn’t satisfying us, we need to be ruthless, honest and direct about changing it.

I’ve spent the last few months recovering from the other 9 months I’ve had gallivanting around London and San Francisco.

I burned out and have felt this sense of ennui. It’s because I was doing a sales job, trying to help people that I didn’t really like or care about. I was sleeping with people that didn’t really matter to me. I felt I only connected to most of my friends on a superficial level.  I lived in a flatshare on a noisy main road, where I didn’t get much sleep. And my health (in all it’s forms – emotional, mental, physical, spiritual) was suffering. It felt like I was dying.

So I quit. I came back home to my parents, who do care a lot. I kept in touch with the real friends who I care about.  I caught up on months of sleep deprivation, ate good nutritious food again, drank less booze. I’ve spent trying to make sense of it all – writing my thoughts in a notebook, doing whatever my body feels like doing. And it feels good.

Now I feel healthy again. I turned 21 yesterday.

I feel ready to take on new projects, do some writing that’s more potent and powerful than anything I’ve done before. Over the next few weeks, I want to pick up writing projects (or whatever I can pick up) so I do work I’m proud of, help my struggling bank balance and make a fresh start.

11 thoughts on “Picking yourself up when everything seems pointless

  1. This really helped, thank you. It’s nice that you talk of the word ennui. People always shout about depression when you search for this type of thing and I don’t like to think I’m depressed. It feels like a long struggle that you never get out of, yet I still have moments when I laugh and are excited, and its only over this past week I’ve been feeling like this again. I guess I should stop working so hard and worrying do hard and relax and let this feeling of ennui pass. Sometimes at 19 I feel like I’m 83 then get frustrated for wasting my time being unhappy when i have all I can wish for. Perhaps I should stop fighting being sad and just make small efforts. You’re a beautiful blog post writer thank you!

  2. I found this piece very gentle yet thought provoking, not too deep and heavy in content. The knowledge that others go through similar phases is a comfort in what can be a harsh and demoralising daily existence. Thanks.

  3. Matelda says:

    I have those feelings everyday. Except the fact that I don’t have a home to go back to. my country is in a war. I cannot see my friends. I cannot see my family. All I do is trying to emotionally survive. Besides all this, i don’t have money to at least buy my basic needs. How can I pick myself up ? I was a very positive and outgoing person. All beautiful things can make me happy no matter how small it is. But this life has destroyed me and destroyed everything i ever liked. Now, I am living as a stranger in the US. Lonely and feeling incapable of putting my life back on the track. I am just watching it passing by. It truly feels like ” everything seems pointless”

  4. Eric says:

    I feel the same! Not exactly unhappy, just numb. Whats the point of anything? I don’t want to work, I don’t want to do anything. Just disappear – but I don’t want to kill myself. I just want to walk out the door and never stop walking!
    Nothing has spurred this on, I have a good family, i’m skilled, a good social circle – I just don’t want life. Houses, taxes, responsibilities, jobs – I just want nothing. Quite a pickle.

    • Damn, I feel the exact same way. I have potential, a lot going. But I don’t want any of it. I don’t want to do anything. I just feel like none of it makes any sense. I just feel there’s no need bothering. Problem is I gotta take of bills and shit. So, in the meantime am a walking dead.. clock in, clock out.

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