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  • Writer's pictureCécile Hemery

The Existential Wonderer: the quest for meaning

Updated: Feb 11

Woman sitting on a bench in the dark holding a question mark illumited balloon and gazing at it

Quiet people all have different tendencies. In previous articles, I shed some light on the Good Students, the Selfless Carers and the Sensitive Souls. Today, we’re exploring the Existential Wonderers.

 

Are you an Existential Wonderer? Take the Pathfinder Quiz to find out

 

People who are Existential Wonderers tend to be restless and constantly questioning existence, purpose and meaning while seeking something undefinable "more" from life. 

Existential Wonderers possess philosophical minds ever probing “why?” to even the most mundane activity. They crave lives infused with meaning, yet struggle to discern exactly what would feel meaningful.  They often lack direction and get lost and overwhelmed in the process of trying to find answers.

By understanding their disposition, Existential Wonderers can better embrace their questioning nature and take steps to uncover fulfilling directions aligned with their wandering souls.


The Making of an Existential Wonderer

Even as children, Existential Wonderers displayed contemplative, inquisitive natures. They asked big questions and mused on themes like the meaning of life, even at young ages. They are curious and want to understand the world around them.

As teens, Existential Wonderers dove into music, poetry and art that explored the human experience. Maybe they read all the books in the parental library. They journaled for self-clarity or exchanged lengthy letters with friends, talked late into the night about truths of the universe and believed they could change the world.

In young adulthood, the pressures to conform to society’s versions of success and happiness felt heavy and straining to Existential Wonderers. They struggled to commit to career and relationship paths without deep resonance with their core values and meanings.

With that feeling of restlessness and being lost not disappearing as they move forward with their lives, Existential Wonderers battle fears they are flawed, immature or failing at life. They are still brewing within, and are caught between seeking their true higher callings and the demands and realities of life.


Signs you might be an Existential Wonderer

If you resonate with several of these feelings, you might be an Existential Wonderer:

  • Difficulty committing to a career path or relationship for the long haul,

  • Continually questioning if this is all there is to life,

  • A sense you have so much more within to give the world, if only you could figure out what,

  • Not having a “passion” and going through hobbies/interests phases trying to find your “thing”,

  • Enjoying the start of new endeavours more than sustaining efforts and maintaining the joy for them over time,

  • Feeling pressure to make safer, “right” and “responsible” choices rather than following your wild dreams.


Navigating Existential Unrest

The first step for Existential Wonderers seeking more fulfilling directions is to challenge definitions of purpose overly linked to productivity. Personal worth exists far beyond economic output and your innate talents may be more creative than number-driven.

Try asking questions like:

  • How does my societal conditioning affect my choices and the options I am looking at?

  • What am I discarding without considering?

  • Who and what could value from my perspective?

  • If I listen to my unspoken dreams, what direction do they hint at?

  • What do I really want and need in my life vs what am I supposed to want and need?

Instead of seeking grandiose purpose, identify small pockets of resonance in your week. Maybe it’s the hike in nature, a deep conversation with a friend or a mentor, or the act of creating something, where you feel most alive. Pay attention to these subtle signals that give you joy, meaning and alignment.

Allowing yourself to experience that deep sensation of purpose does not have to mean rejecting your current life, your current career or jeopardising your safety and comfort. It’s not all or nothing. You may feel like if you follow your instinct and what feels aligned, it will only lead you to an impossible void. It is only a void because you cannot see inside. Because it is the unknown. Everything is unknown until it is known. You do not have to commit to anything before it is “known enough” for you to do so. And the path towards meaning might not be as separate and apart from your current path as you might think.

Balance reflection with movement by tentatively exploring new directions. Initiate experiments by taking a class, talking to seasoned professionals in alluring fields or saying yes when synchronicities arise to pull you into unfamiliar experiences. Take a step. Try it on. Taste how it feels.

As scary as embracing uncertainty may feel, the unsettledness stems not from a lack of capability but from an abundance of possibilities. With each step you’re taking, you’re bringing more light into that void, making it more known, allowing you to see the shapes more clearly and what works and doesn’t work for you. Trust that when the moment is right, when the picture is right, you’ll recognise it. 


Releasing Scarcity

Explore that feeling of lack. How much is enough? How does it compare with your current reality? Who’s scale are you using to measure your material and purposeful needs?

The sense of overwhelm intensifies when you focus on what is lacking. Try focusing on what you want more of. What would be the next step from where you are now? Play with the idea.

Scarcity is the idea that there is only a finite number of things you can have, that there is a limit. That you can’t have your cake and eat it. It leaves no room for the opportunities where you can have both. It leads us to always envision the worst scenarios, therefore hiding from our view the scenarios where we win, where the beautiful unexpected happens.

The more you focus on what you don’t have or what isn’t, the harder it is to see what you do have, the harder it is to see a way towards what else you could have. Engage your natural curiosity and imagination with these playful what-ifs. Train yourself to see them and form them in your mind.


Building Conviction on quest for meaning

Society has conditioned us to view frequent change as instability but in reality, curiosity fuels evolution. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have one passion you’re into since childhood. Nothing is wrong with you. Remain open. 

External validation provides poor clues for inner resonance. Instead of looking outside for what you should do, tune inward to feel which spaces fill you with energy. It’s OK to explore, to change your mind. Get acquainted with how you really feel.

A client first thought that the void she felt would be filled with working on a personal book project, but the more she tried to work on it, the more she realised she was forcing herself and not enjoying the experience. At least not for now. So we explored other avenues for her artistic voice to express herself. She was able to express it once she stopped beating herself up.

Embrace seemingly irrelevant pursuits as you never know what skill or connection may prove valuable once your professional path emerges into clearer focus. What led me to my eventual change of career was volunteering to give a talk at a work event to get my own room rather than have to share - when I asked myself what would give the most chances for my talk to get picked, that’s when I realised what I really cared about and what had real meaning for me. That seed grew and later led me to become a coach and support quiet leaders.

Sometimes self-knowledge arises while doing rather than just thinking. Don’t get trapped overanalysing - experimentation and action can catalyse revelations too. Go for it. What do you have to lose?

What the world needs is people willing to honour their distinctiveness over conforming. Build your own mould. Your undefined dreams and untamed spirit show potential for the change you may spark. Have faith. Answers emerge through the journey.


 

While the path of the Existential Wonderer holds frustration, their contemplative nature, attunement to deep meaning and penchant for questioning norms contain tremendous potential. By challenging standard assumptions, engaging experimental action and pursuing mini-pockets of alignment, Existential Wonderers can pivot uncertainty into an asset and find their answers in their quest for meaning. New directions emerge when we transform discomfort into inspired curiosity.

Rather than a problem, the existential unrest signals you were made for something out of the ordinary. Keep wandering and wondering. You’ll find your way.

If you’re looking for support on your existential journey toward meaning, send me a message or reach out for a conversation.


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