Surviving an Existential Crisis

I’ve always loved vampire television shows, but I did not think one about a sappy love triangle would be the catalyst for an existential crisis.

Ok, so catalyst might not be accurate. Let’s call it more the moment I realised a lot of what the hell was going on with me.

It was 2013 and a friend of mine who shared a love of Buffy the Vampire Slayerand True Bloodwith me, recommended I watch The Vampire Diaries. I did, after some hesitation, since I thought I was cooler than that. Turns out I’m really not. I liked it, I binged watched it and in the midst of said binge watching its first season, I realised I wanted to emulate something from it. You see, the vampires with souls had this ability to switch of their humanity when things became too much to bear. This sounded so appealing because in my reality, I was struggling.

I was in the beginnings of what I now know to be an existential crisis. And it sucked.

The suffering of others, be it people I knew or didn’t, was starting to become too much. I had things going on around me, mainly affecting people I cared for, that were starting to really affect me.

I’d like to say that this crisis didn’t last long but it did. It went in waves for around two years. In this time, I’d experienced highs and lows, and battled internal conflictions about what my real purpose was in life. I still maintained my trademark positivity, but sometimes it wasn’t really matching what was going on inside.

Enter April 2015. I had resigned from my job at the time, one that so many people had told me was a “dream job” so I was feeling a little lost about what was ahead for me. I didn’t have a new job to move into straight away so I had two months up my sleeve that I see now as me getting my shit together. It was single-handedly the most important period of my life so far.

I read so many books, watched Ted Talk after Ted Talk, wrote a bucket-load of a book I am about to release and ultimately, spent a great deal of time with my thoughts. It was the best medicine to a period of uncertainly, a time where I really struggled to understand why bad things happened to good people and what my purpose was.

Two things really stand out from that period in 2015. I really started to know my worth. Not just in a professional sense but personally. I was reading a lot of self-help and personal development books and articles at the time. I know it really helped with my understanding of myself and what I was capable of doing.

I also really started to expand my mind. All that reading, watching, observing and listening began to pay off in a way that made me excited for my future. I discovered my voice in many ways and now I’m not afraid to use it. I’m still learning, of course, but I am confident in who I am and what I believe in.

Sometimes when I look back on this period, I wonder if ‘crisis’ is the right word. That ‘crisis’ was so crucial to my development as a human being, I almost feel like I’m doing it a disservice to call it that. But it is what it is. I was in need of help and understanding, and somehow I found it on my own terms and path.

If you’re going through something similar, I do believe you will come out the other side a happier, more content and improved person. You have to be willing to do a few things though. One is to feel what you are feeling. Sounds a little strange but it’s true. You can’t just skip over whatever it is that you’re going through. Life doesn’t work like that.

Two — you might have to make some tough decisions. Mine was quitting my job. I believe if I hadn’t done so, I may not have had that light-bulb period where I really found my sense of self and purpose again.

And three is you’re going to have to get out of that bubble. You’re going to have to expand that mind a little. You can’t remain the same and expect to change.

I have been a much better version of myself since this period and I know it’s because I went through all of that and challenged myself to be better. I have come to understand and love my sensitivity again. I haven’t gotten everything right since that period but I’ve learnt to be ok with that. I’ve become more accepting of the world around me, knowing that I can make a difference and that there is a real, deep reason why I am here. I know this can happen for you too.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Sally-Anne Hurley

Sally-Anne Hurley

Writer/Podcaster from South West Sydney who pens non-fiction. Check out