Oftentimes it is human nature to feel a need for reasoning to complete a task. We, as humans, tend to stray away from pointless actions and can often find ourselves questioning why we are doing something. I know I have.
As I sat in my Applied Algebra class, swamped with homework from that class as well as others, listening to my professor explain what an integral domain was, I had a moment of realization. I leaned back in my chair and thought to myself, "what am I really doing here?" No, I'm not referring to the fact that I don't understand the concept of an integral domain (which I don't), but rather to the more existential issue of me not understanding the direction my life is going. I was sitting in a class I did not find interesting, trying to make time to do homework I did not want to do, scheduling my life around things I'm not sure I will care about in a matter of years, maybe even months. I felt a lack of purpose.
This isn't an anomaly or some rare condition that no one develops, either. Lots of people have trouble finding purpose in their life, including me, and sometimes it takes a lifetime to find it. What I have realized, however, is that the reason this "purpose" eludes the grasp of so many people is because they aren't looking in the right place.
Personally, I think about the future a lot. I have felt for a long time that my purpose is to have a family and let everything else fall into place. I have placed a lot of my reason to keep going on something I don't even have a clear sight on; something hypothetical. This has caused being single, taking uninteresting classes, missing out on social events, and having a busy schedule to put an overwhelming burden on me. I have felt like everything I'm doing is getting me no closer to fulfilling my life goals and as a result, I feel lost. That's when I looked inwards, listened to outside sources, and figured out that the reason I have felt so lost is because I haven't looked up and realized I know exactly where I am.
My issue was that I was trying to project my reason to live onto a future that may never occur instead of finding reasons in the life happening before my eyes. It's not that I felt like my life was being wasted, but that I was wasting my life by having that mindset. As you'll hear many times throughout your life on Earth, tomorrow isn't promised, so you might as well take advantage of today. Don't place all your eggs in a basket, cook them.
Purpose isn't found in some grand scheme that you create, for a chance that you'll see it through one day. It's found everyday, in the little things that make life worth living. It's found in a workout that shoots serotonin through your veins, a spontaneous trip with your friends to a city you've never been to, a text from your mother telling you she loves you. All of these things give life meaning, and there is no reason to put extra stress on yourself trying to find a higher purpose or a bigger goal.
Don't take anything for granted. There are people who will never do the things you get to do, including reading something on the internet as you are right now. Don't place too much value on things you cannot control. This is one of the hardest things to do, as most of the things in life are out of your control, but working towards having a positive attitude about where you are rather than being optimistic about where you want to be can take away a lot of unnecessary frustration. And most importantly, don't waste any time worrying. Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but gets you nowhere. The sun will rise every morning no matter how anxious, depressed, or frustrated you are, so you might as well find a reason to make that day worth something.
The meaning of life isn't found in a dream of the future, it's found in the reality of the present.
Now, I haven't been cured of feeling lost, nor do I expect to be fully healed anytime soon. But I found a path. And when you're focused on your next step rather than the end of the road, it makes traversing it a lot easier.