'Is it just me, or are we all having a life crisis right now?'

Late last year, I quit my dream job. I was the digital editor of two glossy women’s titles and while I loved the work I was doing, I was so burnt out from years of hustling in a very demanding industry that I just couldn’t deal anymore. 

The pivot to working from home during COVID lockdowns also brought this realisation into my life that, actually, I really liked cooking dinner and going for silly little lunchtime walks and actually having time to exercise that didn’t involve getting up at the godforsaken hour of 5am. 

I wanted more of that, and less of the grind.

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I decided to quit and enter the freelance writing world and after a rocky start; I found my rhythm. I work less but make a similar amount of money, and I can have all the silly little walks and half-arsed home Pilates sessions I like. Great! Yay! Right?

Hmm. Not quite. After a few months I was like, why am I not... blindingly, heart-burstingly happy? Filled with drive and purpose? Thriving – live, laugh, love personified? 

This yawning big hole of emptiness became more and more apparent inside me. It was like I’d sailed out into the high seas but then lost my compass. I finally had the beautiful work/life balance I’d craved, and while I felt healthier and had more time for family and friends... as a person, I felt adrift. 


I had no direction.

You might feel the same. Maybe for you, it’s not the sudden discovery of work/life balance only to realise you’re lost.

Maybe you just had a kid, and they’ve headed off to school leaving you like, "Okay, what next?"

Maybe you found the love of your life, and while you’re happy to leave behind the second job (it’s absolutely a second job) of trawling dating apps and going on dates every week, you aren’t sure where to direct all that energy now. 

I’m analytical to a fault (a big, therapy-needed fault), and I’ve worked out why we’re feeling this weird emptiness. Bear with me.

I spent 10 years in a very strict church environment where my whole future was basically mapped out for me. My purpose = save people, do God’s work, then go to heaven. Simple! 

When I left the church, I threw myself into the purpose of hedonism. I wanted to permanently have a good time, all the time – and I did, for another 10 years. For two decades, I had something I deeply valued that drove my existence.

Then, COVID hit. 

Lockdowns sent us all on self-reflective journeys since, well, we had sh*t-all to do with our time besides sit with our thoughts. 


It was like a little reprieve from the hustle of life, but now that it’s over, we’re faced with a semi-normal future and what the hell we should do with it.

Quitting my full-time job fixed one problem – the burn-out I’d finally realised was not sustainable anymore. 

But it didn’t fix the other, bigger issue. Now that I was older and partying all the time wasn’t something I cared for, I was left with nothing to care about enough to want to dedicate my life to it.

In short, whatever the catalyst was for you – we’ve lost our sense of purpose.

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I can’t take full credit for this realisation because I was seeing a therapist at the time who asked me if I knew what my values were. To better explain what values are, I asked clinical psychologist and mental health expert for the Headspace app, Mary Spillane, to tell you about them. 

"Values relate to how we want to live our lives and conduct ourselves in an ongoing way. They are different to goals, which relate to what we want to achieve in life," she says. 

So for me, in church, I valued the Bible’s teachings, bringing people to God, and devotion to the church through work. 

In my wild years, I valued parties, sexual experiences, and fun. 


Now I find myself in my 'tired era', as I’m coining it: I have a lovely, stable relationship, work/life balance as I move away from a demanding career, and literally no energy to party even if I wanted to. 

So what do I value now?

Here’s the truth. I have no f*cking idea. I’m a work in progress and it really sucks! It’s awful feeling adrift, knowing why, but still putting the pieces together. 

According to Spillane, this is totally normal. "Figuring out your values can be a process. Some might be really obvious, and others may come to light through your experiences or relationships," she explains. 

The good news is there is a starting point. "You can start figuring out your values by reflecting on some different questions," she says.

Some of these questions? 

What is most important to me in life?

When I feel content, what am I doing?

Who are some people I admire, and why do I admire them?

"You might even reflect on what you found difficult about COVID lockdowns as a guide," she says. "If you struggled with social isolation, being indoors more often, or the possibility of getting sick, it may indicate you value connection, the outdoors, and your health."

I’ve personally worked out one value – helping others. 

I love writing stories (like this one!) that can help other people feel less alone, feel more seen and understood. So, I’ve shifted my freelance work toward doing more of this. I’m also looking into future career paths where I can continue to really help other people.


Family is also a value I’ve realised means a lot to me. I have a really tight-knit bond with my parents and sister, so while I sometimes fantasise about moving overseas to live some wild, Emily In Paris existence, I know that in reality I would hate being that far away from them. Understanding this value is also helping me stare potential motherhood directly in the face (more on my anxieties around that here). 

But the rest, I’m still working on. Still, getting started has helped immensely.

Another tip Spillane shared was practising mindfulness – the Headspace app actually has quite a few guided meditations that are geared toward figuring out your purpose and values. You can find them here.

At the end of the day, it’s okay if you’re feeling a little lost. It’s okay if it takes you a while to figure out your values, too. Life’s a journey, and while it might be short, it’s still not something you can rush through. Just knowing that it’s values that will give me my purpose back again, and that figuring them out is a process has helped reduce that drifty, dissatisfied feeling. 

I hope you feel a little better knowing that, too.

Melissa Mason is a freelance writer. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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