Confused About Life

I’m Confused About Life Just Like Everyone Else

Derek Everything Else, Personal Stuff 209 Comments

Confused About Life
Yes, I’m confused about life just like everyone else. I get depressed, I struggle and I feel lost too, more often than you probably would imagine.

In fact, back in August of this year, I had a bit of a breakdown. That might be an understatement. It was actually quite a significant breakdown.

Despite having been traveling for 15 years, despite doing things like spending time in France, Romania, Singapore, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Turkey and more during the first half of this year…when August came around, nothing made sense to me.

I was placing intense personal pressure on myself, I had no answers to anything and every day I woke up with a ‘holy-crap-I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing’ kind of confusion.

And then, while in Bali, I got dengue fever as an added bonus. After Bali, things didn’t get much better and following a couple of more unfortunate incidents that occurred, I was officially more confused, frustrated and distraught than I had been in a long, long time.

When this happened, I just stopped what I was doing. I stopped everything. I flew back to Florida in August, where my family lives, and I stayed there. I could barely sleep at the time so I would just get out of bed at around 5:00am each day and go for a walk. Then I would sit around for hours on end doing nothing at all. Sometimes, when motivation struck for a few moments, I would try to think about every aspect of my life hoping to find some kind of clarity but that clarity never came.

The days passed and I felt as if I was going absolutely nowhere, making no progress at all, still feeling as completely confused about life as ever.

The Burrito

One day, after three weeks of this sitting around doing nothing, I finally made an important realization, interestingly enough, while eating a burrito.

I had gotten the urge to drive over to a small burrito shop, one that I eat at every time I’m visiting family in Florida. I ordered the same burrito I always order, filled my glass with the same sweet iced tea that I always fill my glass with and took a seat at the same table I always try to sit at. The main difference this time was that I was still fighting back tears every few minutes, something that would just hit me out of nowhere during this period of depression, and I wasn’t as eager, given my loss of appetite, to eat my burrito.

While waiting to see if I’d be able to actually eat, I started looking around the room, observing the other twenty or so diners in the restaurant. There were families, groups of friends, pairs of co-workers and a handful of other people eating alone just like me. I watched them all for around ten minutes, looking at their faces and observing their behavior and trying to figure out whatever I could about their lives.

And then I suddenly…burst out laughing. Before I knew it, I couldn’t stop laughing and believe me I tried. I stared out the window, bit my lip, pinched my thigh, closed my eyes and tried all sorts of ideas without any success.

Why was I laughing?

At that very moment, I realized that the ‘answer’ I had been looking for was so simple that I had no choice but to laugh at my inability to have seen it earlier.

All along I thought I was looking for some kind of magical clarity. I thought I needed to find a way to get rid of the confusion and feeling of being extremely lost.

But as I looked around me in that burrito shop, I started to understand that every single human being feels confused and lost as well, over and over again throughout life. Nobody is exempt from these feelings, it’s all a part of the human journey.

So, being confused and lost is not so important, not such a big deal.

Havana Palolem, Goa

This Is The Important Thing…

What’s important is having confidence in who we are as an individual as we face life’s ups and downs. And the only way to be confident in ourselves is to make sure we know exactly what kind of person we want to be and to then do whatever it takes to ensure we act and behave accordingly.

We need to be our true self at all times.

In my case, while in that burrito shop, I realized that I had lost all of my confidence because I no longer knew who I was.

Somehow along this crazy traveling adventure of mine, my life became so scattered that I forgot some of my principles, I forgot some of my strongest beliefs and I definitely forgot about staying true to myself. I was trying to live up to one image one day and another image the next, never even knowing myself which Earl, or Derek, should show up or would show up, when all along I should have just been the one and only ‘me’.

As soon as I understood that getting back on track simply required me to re-focus on the kind of person I want to be and to then make sure I am always that person, my full appetite returned and I ate that burrito ever so quickly.

My motivation to get up and out of the house came right back, my desire to work towards my goals reappeared and most importantly, I felt happier and more confident than I could remember feeling for a very long time.

Don’t Worry, You’ll Be Okay

Let me say this….don’t worry about the confusion you are feeling. Don’t worry about feeling lost and having no idea what to do in life.

Don’t worry if you wanted to travel in 2014 and you didn’t. Maybe you traveled less than you had wanted or your plans didn’t go as expected. Maybe you wanted to quit your job and head in a new direction but you weren’t sure what to do or maybe you couldn’t decide between traveling or going to school. Perhaps you just don’t know how to take the first step towards your goals and you’re worried that you’ll never achieve what you really want to achieve in the end. Again, don’t worry about these things.

Worry about who you are right now instead. That’s where it starts.

Understand what kind of person you want to be as you move through this world, what you believe in, how you want to treat others and what is important to you. Once you figure this out, the rest will come and you’ll be able to handle any periods of confusion, fear, uncertainty or whatever you must face along the way.

The thing is, I’ve always believed that a happy, confident me is in a far better position to achieve my goals than an unhappy, unconfident me. It just turns out that I forgot that for a while this year and it knocked me way off course.

Luckily, I’ve remembered it again.

Final Words About Happiness and Burritos

As part of my final post of this year, I wanted to share this experience above so that you can also go into 2015, not just with another list of things you want to achieve, but with a new confidence and happiness – a result of staying true to yourself at all times – that will help you actually achieve whatever it is you set your mind to.

I don’t want you to be sitting in a burrito shop back home, unable to eat, unsure of how to deal with life and wondering how you’ll ever find your way again.

I’d rather meet you in a burrito shop somewhere out here in the world, swap travel stories and get to know you, the real you, the person you truly want to be.

Who’s ready to meet?

I sincerely thank you for being a part of this blog in 2014, for reading this ramble and my countless others as I discuss what it’s like, and what I learn, from living a life of constant travel.

Without you, this blog does not exist and that’s something I’ll never forget.

With much love,

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Comments 209

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  2. Ava

    Henry you jist verbalize exactly what I’m feeling and thinking. The overwhelming feeling if dread and anxiety with all the things happening. Being an empath doesn’t help at all, and pisces, uber sensitive to all this!

  3. Henry

    Just do what makes us happy?? Well, yeah of course we want to be “happy”

    But yet I don’t understand how “doing what makes you happy”
    provides a deeper meaning for you when you close your eyes at night?

    I used to be a hardworking, upbeat and positive person with an attitude of gratitude. I’ve been the type to ask questions to myself. I loved learning and insight.

    But here recently with all the crazy things we are bombarded with, how expensive is it just to survive, innocent people getting hurt… the pile up, it’s getting harder and harder to ignore, or know what to believe in for some sort of peace of mind, to keep pushing on.

    Maybe my spirits broken. But I’m struggling with overall perspective, meaning, and having fuel to move on… my mind has been dazed, lost and in that whats the point of all this mode. I know this type of thinking gets people nowhere. But it’s and it’s been bothering me.

    Nothing seems to feel right to me anymore and I normally can dust this sort of thing off.

  4. snails

    The reality is to learn to love yourself first. Before you make new friends and get into unsuccessful relations, learn to know yourself. if life is throwing at you situations that seclude you from other people, then get the lesson from that. It wants you to spend quality time with yourself first. Everything else is a distraction. I barely have few good friends myself, they often wonder how I never call or can spend time with myself n not get bored. But I am always there for them when they are low. My answer is I ask myself want it wants, read more, or explore places nearby or explore important non mainstream topics, learn some new hobby or skill and I make sure I at least give it a try if not perfect it. I am trying to know myself rather than know other ppl. When you look without you will always be disappointed, when you look within you will find peace and that’s A promise. All the hurdles life’s throwing at us is an indication we need to change something. Unless we learn that lesson our troubles won’t Stop. So take a step back analyse what is happening, see what mistakes you made, most importantly learn from them, and move on. You are your only true friend you’ll ever have. Be nice to urself 🙂 I’ve had my share of sadness and that lead me to understanding this one important lesson. And be careful what you wish for, if you ask the universe for strength it will not make you strong, it will pose different kinds of challenges and give you opportunity to show or develop strength to battle or accept them. So choose your wishes wisely. N you will wonder why this is happening to you, and the simple answer is you asked for it, this is just the universes way of granting your wish. So think wisely before asking, be specific. 🙂

  5. Carrie G.

    Thanks for the encouraging words. I am in a state of confusion myself now since my divorce. I suffer from SAD in the winter, so for the longest time I made it my top priority to move to FL. My divorce freed me to go. I moved to FL and my life turned into a tornado. Everything went horribly wrong and the homesickness got the best of me. So, I moved back to Chicago and was happy to be home and with family. I was in my familiar place. But, the winters depressed me again, so I moved back to FL and things took a turn for the worse in my life. One bad thing after the other, nonstop. And, I started missing my familiar place AGAIN. I felt tortured or cursed, idk. Anyway, I abandoned my home in FL and came back HERE. Now, I am so effing confused on what to do. I know this sounds crazy, but it is the mess I am in. This crossroads thing is destroying my life. BTW, I got therapy for the SAD, but all it did was waste my money. I used the effing lamp and it did nothing. So, now I am just depressed and hopeless. My lease is up in 3 weeks, so I have to get back to FL and figure out what to do with my messed up life. I have no motivation to even get on the plane. That is how depressed I am.

  6. beezapples

    Thank you….. I was just complaining to my self that this year and many years AROUND August especially when the seasons change I just have an emotional shift. This just made me feel 110% better that I am ok and I just need to eat a burrito.


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  8. Don't want to write

    Just read this. Really inspirational. For the last couple of years I’ve really struggled to understand myself as a person. I just think what actually gives me happiness and whether if I will ever feel happy and content. All I want is to wake up with that inner peace and not feel anxiety and depressed. Enjoy the beautiful things in life, but I just seem to wake up with constant worries. Every morning I try to stay positive and hope something will spark in my career or change. But yet again confusion. Really does affect your Confidence. But your story is so beautiful and natural. Hopefully if I ever feel a blip or down. Will read this and just enjoy life step by step. Thank you x

  9. Depressed and poor

    Well, Earl, you should try having a breakdown when you’re completely broke and are clinging to the stinking apartment you have. You’re blessed to have enough money to do what you want. And a family to stay with when you need it.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Of course everyone is in a different situation and certain situations are much more challenging, that’s for sure. I’m just writing about my own life on this blog and what I face. There are also people that don’t have an apartment and who owe a ton of debt so it is all relative, but the point is, no matter what our situation, everyone gets confused about life and we all share that regardless of how much money we have.

  10. Tina

    Hi Earl,

    Thanks for sharing your story! With such honesty……
    I myself am not a natural traveler. I have never traveled outside of north America in my whole life of 37yrs. Up until last September 2014. I came to India to meet my now husband and am living here since February. I listened and followed my heart even when so many thought I was crazy!! Lol only problem is now too find my step here. For now I’m full of confusion and frustration. I’m not sure who or what I am now?? Or where to go now??
    I’ve always been intrigued and enjoyed many cultures. So that’s not my problem!!! My problem is more being taught in life all a certain way, believing its right!! And than looking at others and seeing the opposite. And than asking inside what’s right and what’s wrong??
    North America always watches for others think, who has the best car,clothes,house;and care about proper etiquette within family and friends. And the rest of the world can take care of themselves mentality.
    Where as here much mentality is different…..
    It is definitely a reality check!!!

    Any suggestions Earl to help with this transition??
    Thanks greatly

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Tina – I think you just need to keep on trying new things, meeting new people and visiting new places. The more you see, the more you learn and eventually, or maybe quickly, you’ll be able to answer some of those questions. Keep an open mind and realize that there are endless perspectives to everything and most things can’t be classified as right or wrong. It’s different for different people and whatever you feel comfortable with, that’s perfectly okay. Again, there is no right or wrong as long as you are following what you truly believe in!

  11. Anna

    I wasn’t sure what to expect when I clicked on your page, since I go through spurts of blogging research every few months until it passes and I just keep on traveling. Usually I find the same stereotypical advise and content, with the occassional blogger that stands out. I also typically focus on female bloggers, so stumbling upon your page was surprisingly refreshing. First of all, I love the honesty of your blog and respect the rawness of this post. Secondly, I think no matter how many times we convince ourselves that everyone has doubts and insecurities, it is nice for people who seem like they have it all figured out, to admit it. Finally, I am going to be that annoying person who asks for some advice and hope that you respond. I have been traveling since birth and without really noticing I was doing it, I have become nomadic in the last 3 years. I used to be a relatively superficial teenage girl with a shoe addiction and somewhere along the way I realized I don’t need 20 pairs of shoes and I’d prefer to be able to fit everything I need to live in a backpack. Which is how I ended up living in rural Tanzania with one pair of hiking boots for the time being. I have been blogging for friends and family for several years out of a sheer love for writing and sharing stories, and recently have been hearing a voice in the back of my head saying “maybe I could do this full-time and not just as a hobby.” You are the first blogger I’ve reached out to, so this is really wishful thinking that you’d have the time or anything insightful to offer me on a personal level, but I figured it was worth a shot.

    So here’s my big question(s): How exactly does one turn a passion for writing and traveling as a hobby into a full-time gig? More specifically, how do I do it without compromising on my other dreams and goals, and most importantly my morals? Is that even possible, and if not, how do I determine if it is meant to just be my hobby?

  12. shalini

    It is an effective writing…good to hear that everyone have different phases of and down….good inspirational massage

  13. denrik

    A thoughtful and helpful post from Earl and appreciated by many readers. I think it points to the way that psychology has indicated that the meaning of life is to create and elaborate meaning..this sounds tautological. But reading around the ‘psychology of happiness’ academic literatures, this is what it tends to conclude. In other words, folk have to always cultivate and re-create meaning through interactions, purpose and community. As Earl shows, thoughtful travel can be an important part of that. Religion, relationships and economy are clearly caught up in these logics.

  14. Charles Haslett

    I once traveled most of The United States in my late teens and into my early twenties. Where am I now? I’m 27 years old, constantly struggling and battling with my thoughts of what I should be doing with my Life. Love fills my heart for traveling and I scream inside to take my first step back out into the world. One important individual stands in front of me, my Love for a woman, my girlfriend. Of course I want a future with her, to be married and have a family. Yet, I feel I wont be truly happy with Life unless I explore my passion of Travel. I can’t just get up and leave her, I fear she wouldn’t understand.

    Every decision I’m faced with, I’m unable to make up my mind. Like you mentioned, ‘School or Travel?’ ‘Job or be a free Spirit?’

    You’re told growing up has serious obstacles and times of great decision making. I’m lost. Please, if any advice you have, I’m all ears.

    -Charles Haslett

  15. Stetson Williams

    It’s funny that I should discover this article now, when so recently I’ve gone through such a similar emotional battle. I have been fighting a feeling of helplessness and depression for some time now, too tied down by the life I’ve allowed myself to be steered towards to cut loose and do the things I dream of doing. I regularly feel lost, and as if I am wasting what precious time I have doing things I don’t believe in or value. I feel like I’ve gotten a handle on it though, by re-evaluating my dreams, rediscovering my passions, and making an escape plan to get to them. I would actually like to thank you for your help in that. Your story, and the stories of your various travels always inspire me and light a fire to get out there and take that path less traveled. I’m a Florida boy myself, and it’d be an honor to meet you, if you’re ever back in the state and in the mood to meet a fan.

  16. Mademoiselle Nomad

    Wow what an honest account. I loved that you shared this. I have been comfortable in my travels but my recent relocation to Cape Town for a second time proved to be very hard this time around. With finances running low, me getting older and health not always as great as when I was 16, life can get overwhelming and I wonder what the heck am I doing and is it worth keeping on travelling or should I stop and finally listen to everyone else telling me to ‘come back home’, find a ‘normal job’ . It’s so great to see that getting depressed can happen to the most experienced nomad such as you. And yet life goes on. Thank you for sharing this and also to end it off with hope and positivity. Hahah and I had to laugh when I read the burrito section because guess what I’m eating right now as I read this? Coincidence? I don’t think so…

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  18. Peggy

    I think it’s important to remember that life never stops, and even if you’ve figured out the answers to life for the time being, life keeps on changing and we have to keep asking ourselves the difficult questions. Change is what drives growth, and I’m glad you’ve picked yourself up. Keep on, keeping on.

  19. Rachel

    Just wanted to say thank you. Your post matches my feelings right now, but it’s also given me an ‘answer’, that I’m hoping if I keep holding on to, eventually things will sort themselves out.
    Kind regards.

    1. Rachel

      So this is me replying to myself, 2 years after feeling very depressed, confused and lost. It eventually prompted one amazing holiday to Japan last year, and I just had to come back. So at the beginning of this year, I quit my job (an awesome feeling), and I’ve been in Tokyo for 3 months now teaching English and I don’t want to go home :). Thanks for being the inspiration for my new life, for now at least! 🙂

      1. Post

        That’s awesome to hear Rachel and I really appreciate you providing this update! I’m sure the adventure will continue for you and in the meantime, keep on enjoying Tokyo!!

  20. yara Coelho

    That was exactly how I felt this January…. Entering a new year with a massive breakdown and dropping everything was not what I could call a wonderful beginning of 2015.

    The weight of traveling non-stop for over 16 years, always making new exciting friends, but never building long deep relationships because everybody comes and goes in a blink of an eye…. Losing all my income, going through a heart break, questioning if blogging isn’t just wasting my time… etc, etc, etc.. But ultimately, we have the chance and the opportunity to flip things over and take control of our path.

    I’m traveling with my dog now and back on track, life is great 🙂

  21. Amy Jane

    Wow. I’m came across your article randomly. A few weeks ago I was reading “Hyperbole and a half” and, after months of being in a funk, the author, Allie, comes across a shrivels piece of corn under her fridge and can’t stop laughing hysterically. It doesn’t make much sense, but somehow that ended her funk. I lost my way in life somewhere around six months ago and can’t seem to get back on track. Your words related to my current situation, but made a bit more sense than Allie’s corn. I’m still waiting for this clarity to hit me, or a burst of self-confidence or self-esteem or a funny piece of corn (I’ll take any of the above at this point). It was comforting to read how your burrito experience come along out of nowhere and gave me renewed hope that my own moment of clarity will come. Thank you!

  22. Louisa

    I really appreciate your honesty and vulnerability, Earl. I find it powerful and rare. I don’t feel the same as you do about confidence as the solution. In my life, confidence comes and goes. When I’m trying to be confident, my attention is on — guess where?– ME! and I’m more likely to have self-doubts! (Ironic…) Instead I prefer to focus on enthusiasm. When I feel low, I ask myself, what do I care about, and how can I express that? It gets the focus off me, and it works.

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  24. An Nguyen

    Hi Earl,
    This is the first time i write a thing for you. I’m come from Vietnam, a small country so I often feel a little bit shy to talk to you. It’s weird but it’s what i feel. But the most important thing now is I wanna write something for you. I wanna say that: I appreciate you so much, Earl. You’ re the person who inspired me to live my life with travel passion. You’re the person who inspried me to travel all of Southern part of Vietnam last year, and keep traveling to the North now. You gave me the courage to backpack to another country: Siem Reap, Cambodia – just alone as the 1st time in my life, to realize many many great things about myself that I never knew before. And now, your sharings is encouraging me to follow my dream, open a hostel in my hometown (Danang city, Vietnam) in July, this year. I’m addict to meet the backpackers around the world, That what i wanna live for my whole life. I’m happy now to keep travelling each month and preparing for my Hostel business.
    Thanks for everything you made to me. Thanks for all, Earl!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey An – That’s wonderful to hear and I’m really so happy that you explored your country and Siem Reap as well! And your hostel idea sounds great too…I was in Danang many, many years ago so I might have to go back and see your hostel when it’s ready 🙂 Please let me know when it is open and in the meantime, enjoy more travel adventures!

  25. Magdalena

    Weirdest thing… Thank you for this!
    Have been feeling like all air has been sucked out of me and like there is very little direction and purpose in my life, and it’s been creeping up on me, untill it hit me good today. Sat down listening to music, looking into a blank screen at the laptop, not a proper thought in my head. Two words kept popping up in my head: travel-live. Searched them- and this is where I happend to end up, with you telling it exactly like it is. And how you put yourself back together again.
    Have not made your acquaintance before, so this is a first for me! But not the last 🙂

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Magdalena – Well, it’s very nice to meet you 🙂 And I’m happy that you found the site and connected with this post. Looking forward to communicating some more!

  26. Keith

    This is a post I personally wrote years ago on a traveling site that has thousands of members, it won me a post of distinction . Read it and enjoy.

    Its entitled { Sitting at the Diner Alone }

    It’s funny last week I had some alone time away from everyone as I spent the day just kicking back doing my thing I decided to go out and get a bite to eat.

    I arrived at Boulder station a Local casino east of Vegas I thought to myself I am going to eat at the Counter as its much quicker didn’t have to wait in that 20 minute line to be seated and I wouldn’t have to worry about sitting next to a family of 10 with 5 crying kids.

    AS I sat at the counter, just looking around I noticed quite a bit.

    Most folks over the age of 65 always eat lots of soft foods Example salads and soups with bread I guess as one gets older your digestive tract can’t break down the harder foods as easy anymore.

    Another thing I noticed many were just sitting there is a trance like look, almost like life has just ran by them and there is no turning back a comfortable numbness of profoundness kind of like seeking answers and or almost waiting for that day.

    However what I really noticed was how so many folks were ALONE!

    Its funny how we get older in life and less and less people are now surrounding us for the final leg and or journey we take upon ourselves. As I looked around I couldn’t help but ponder how many sitting around this counter about 30 in all were all thinking the same thing.

    {WOW Life sure did fly by and know it s all downhill from here with no friends and little family left. }

    Why is it as we get older we become ALONE, why do we have limited friends, why do we have limited patience, why do we prefer to be left alone, And why o why do WE all eat soft foods ?

    I am coming up on 44 this June and I look around and see all me my friends with their families and wives and kids I wonder to myself will I be that Old guy sitting at the counter 25 years from now wondering what the hell happened to me.

    When we are children we have so many friends and nothing bothers us at all. WE overcome everything and forgive all. As we get older we become jaded to the point of No return.

    To be Loved, Feared or Hated, Which one are You ?

    Or will I finally accept the fact that even thu my life has had its share of up’s, down’s and all arounds.

    I won’t Die Alone at the Counter.


    1. steven

      this is a common thought/question that i have for a long time .
      is this the path of life that everyone have to go thru .
      having fewer and fewer friends as you grew older ?
      Sitting alone and just waiting for the day to pass by ?
      it just like waiting for the death to come ?
      what happen to all their friends ?
      did they choose to be alone ?
      do they embrace being alone because they had seen the too many fake peoples around .
      everyone is seeking for true friends but dont they realize it in you yourself .
      And alot of times ,peoples give up being trueful to other because peoples will start judging you when you are the real you .
      that why alot of peoples are wearing a mask !
      the only time when they are not wearing a mask is when they are old and they dont need to impress anyone anymore.
      so they embrace being alone for most of time.
      that my thought .
      anyone can enlightenment me ?

  27. Cherise Vecchio

    It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who has these moments of doubt. In the end I look at the bigger picture and ask myself … Am I happy? As long as it’s yes, I know that I will get back on track and be going in the right direction again soon!!! Thanks Earl 🙂

  28. Joya

    It’s rare for people to be this open and I think you’re so brave. It’s a constant work in process to embrace who you are and let go of shame or pressure. Thank you for the reminder.

    1. Kaylee-Ribblett

      I feel the same exact way! People never feel that they need to be different and he did, he spoke his mind. No-body else does and that means a lot. He is an extremely well spoke and brilliant man. People just don’t get the fact that he is the most open writer i have ever seen!

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