April 8, 2021

My Existential Crisis was the Best Thing that Happened to Me.

You can call it an existential crisis.

Call it a quarter or mid-life contemplation. Call it completely falling apart and questioning everything we thought we knew to be true. As challenging, intense, and overwhelming as an existential crisis can be, let it happen.

Let the tidal wave of questions wash over, from the way we work to the ways we live, commute, eat, and raise a family.

Question it all. 

What is the purpose? 

What is my purpose? 

Is there even a purpose?!

Is it all just play?

Is meaning inherent or self-created?

What is the point since everything, ourselves included, is impermanent? Since, you know, we will all die anyway… 

There was a point in my life where I lived within these questions.

Waves of sorrow and sadness washed over me, my heart breaking at the fragility and uncertainty of this life experience. 

It happened when all the titles of my identity were stripped away.

I had just finished university, had taken a break from teaching yoga, and moved to Mexico to take a break and figure out the next phase of my life. It was only when the usual busyness of my daily life vanished and I was left with my thoughts that my existential crisis began. 

I had ample time to contemplate the mysteries of the universe and what my role in all of it was. The thoughts didn’t move in like the tide on a sunny day. They engulfed me like a tsunami and left me flailing for air. 

Using all my strength to logically figure it out and battle upstream wasn’t working. It was when I stopped trying to control my surroundings and force answers to appear—when I could finally relax.

I stopped trying to change what is and decided to let go. It was when I stopped battling myself that I started to float.

I was able to exhale completely.

I was able to drink in the warmth of the sun on my skin.

I was able to live each day moment-to-moment.

I was able to bask in the fluidity of a slow inhale and exhale. 

I was able to hold space for myself to question everything I knew to be true.

I was able to allow myself to let go of old beliefs, visions of my future, and what I thought my life should look like.

I gave myself the space to unravel and let myself be in it. 

But it wasn’t just a fascinating place of self-inquiry. It was also sticky and heavy, like moving through mud.

At times, it became too overwhelming when I realized so much of what I thought I wanted didn’t actually matter to me. It was painful and challenging to fall apart and I needed someone to remind me the ground beneath me wouldn’t crumble. 

So, I found a therapist who changed everything. 

She didn’t tell me what to do, yet asked damn good questions. She allowed me to be brutally honest with myself and gave me homework. We explored my nonnegotiables in every facet of my life—career, relationships, and daily routine. 

She created space and helped me find clarity that made it substantially easier to make decisions in every area of my life.

I can’t stress the importance of the role a good therapist can play. Finding someone we trust, feel comfortable with, and can say the things we’re scared to say to anyone else out-loud is deeply healing.

Before making any radical life decisions and focusing on the “what,” we figured out the “why” of the beliefs that lit me up and energized me on the deepest level.

Over the weeks, my why and core beliefs bubbled up to the surface. Although everyone’s why and core beliefs are different, here are mine: 

>> I believe all people deserve access to affordable healthcare so they can be in a state of thriving, instead of just surviving.

>> I believe the way mothers are treated during birth matters. 

>> I believe everybody deserves to feel at home, at ease, and connected to the wisdom of their body.

>> I believe quality time with my closest friends and family is essential to a soul-satisfying life. 

Over several months, I let go of the need to figure out my entire life’s path and instead, and on figuring out the next small step forward.

I experimented with different jobs which was a lot of trial and error. But hey, isn’t everything? We get a little more clear on what we do want by experiencing what we don’t want. We’ll never know what fits until we try it on. Every decision helped me feel a little bit closer to where I was supposed to be heading—it made me feel a little bit more at home. 

Before my move to Mexico, I already had a background in kinesiology, personal training, yoga, and nutrition. Although I was interested in these topics, it felt like there were a couple of missing pieces for me to be able to work in a way that I wanted to with people. After many months of questioning it all, working closely with the therapist, and exploring how to live a life full of purpose and passion, I made small decision after small decision. Slowly, a purpose-driven life began to emerge. 

Fast forward four years and I’m in my last year of a four-year program to obtain my Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine. I’m a birth doula, pre/postnatal yoga instructor, and a mother. More importantly, every night I go to bed fulfilled. And to me, that is an important part of living a successful life. I get to study the art and science of naturopathic medicine, support mamas, have ample time with my baby girl, and feel like I’m making a difference.

I have no idea what my life will look like in 10 years…and I’m okay with that.

I am clear on my core values and I get to live them day in and day out. I’m focused on what is and what the next right step is for myself and my family. 

I am so grateful for the existential crisis that brought me to the life I’m living now. 

Within my time of living in that heavy space, I realized I only care about a few things.

And it was liberating.

We can’t care about absolutely everything. There simply isn’t enough time or energy to tend to every topic, issue, and challenge going on in the world. With my values and my why clearly defined, making life decisions became easier.

Choosing how to spend my time became clear. Not knowing if I was “doing the right thing” was not a thing anymore. Any choice I made that was in alignment felt right.

It is within the darkness of uncertainty that clarity begins to emerge.

It is facing the uncertainty and the temporary nature of this life and realizing we have finite time.

It is leaning into heartbreak and finding what lights our souls on fire.

It is within the darkest days the meaning of life boils down to a few simple sentences and core values.

It is normal and healthy to break down, unravel, and live in a place of uncertainty.

Instead of battling our way out of it, it’s okay to live there, at least for a little while. 

Listen to it, learn from it, and let it open you up.

Let it transform your life beyond anything you have yet to imagine.


Read 5 Comments and Reply

Read 5 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Alexa Torontow  |  Contribution: 7,770

author: Alexa Torontow

Image: @alexatorontow/Instagram

Editor: Kate Fleming