Ready to die at 21?

by Adam

Hi, I am 21 year old college student and I am struggling to find a reason to live. In a couple of weeks, I graduate and I can't help but ponder that if there was legal recourse available by which I could peacefully end my life, I would take it without hesitation. I have felt this way for as long as I can remember. I have an acceptable GPA and a job lined up in my field of study (engineering) for when I graduate, which I realize is more than some can say. However, I still can't get over the fact I have no interest in life. I want to emphasize that I am not suicidal. I am just ready to die. I have no interest in having kids or getting married in the future. I have no dreams or desires that I want to realize. There is nothing that interests me long term. Of course, I still indulge in forms of escapism (i.e watching a movie, reading a book) every now and then. But overall as I aforementioned, there is nothing I want to do, nothing I want to see, and no one I want to be. I want to stress that I am not depressed (which I know is a common suspicion when someone says something along the lines of having no interest in life). Most of what I experience, or better yet fail to experience, is in line with my personality as an anhedonic, schizoid loner which I have had my whole life. I have no friends. While in college, I am either in class, at the gym working out by myself, or in my room. I spend 99% of my time alone. The only people I talk to on a somewhat daily basis is my immediate family. None of this bothers me. What does bother deeply is trudging through life without reason. For most people, what makes life worth it, what allows them to get past the tediousness of a 9 to 5 etc. are their dreams and desires. I don't have that. This makes it particularly difficult for me to do things of importance because I am always asking myself "Why? Why I am doing this?"

Long story short, I suffer an anhedonia that makes living more laborious than I expect it should be. How do I go about treating this?

Ben's Answer:

Thank you for sharing your struggles. These are hard questions. While I agree that for most people, they get through their tedious work activities by holding onto dreams and desires, I believe for most of those people, they are simply on a constant roller coaster of temporary highs, temporary satisfaction of material desires, only to go back to tediousness. Waiting for the weekend. Waiting for future happiness. That is not real contentment, fulfillment or meaning. Not living in the moment.

I get that you are probably an extreme introvert with little interest in connecting with people. I wonder though, if you are missing an opportunity to look deeper into your own consciousness, rather than spending all your time studying, working out or escaping into books or movies. Not that any of those activities are bad - but if that is all you do, you are unlikely to access deeper aspects of your inner self.

I don't know if you've ever explored spiritual practices, like meditation. Some people would not advise an inner practice like meditation because it would introvert your consciousness even more, but you are already living like a monk (minus the spiritual practice), so why not do it for real? There is a reason why monastic traditions encourage deep silence, meditation and solitude. It's to go deeper, below the level of the conscious mind, to connect to the true source of your existence. Something that cannot be understood by reading alone. Trying these kind of practices casually is not likely to reveal much. There has to be some sincere desire to find something beyond your mundane perceptions. (So of course, a little desire is necessary). But if you had no desire at all, you wouldn't have posted this question... a desire for meaning, purpose or liberation is a real desire - and it's the best desire to have - because it's the only desire that can lead you to Self Realization.

Desiring a new car or a better iPhone will never give you any lasting peace. Superficial desires create a superficial life.

Meditative traditions, as well as shamanic practices might be some of the paths you could explore to experience something worth living for.

I wish you well,

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