If You're Lost


A practical guide to getting back on the interstate.


Man’s Guide to Shame has been out for three months, and oh lordy has it been impactful. If there was a Nobel Prize for getting guys to feel shitty about themselves (in a good way), I’d be in the running.

Though there has been negative feedback, too. Some of you think my head is way up my ass, and I wouldn’t know practical advice if it gave me chlamydia.

It’s not that you disagree with me, you merely think you’re not at the stage in life where you need to be concerned with shame. The reason is you feel “lost.” I use “lost” in quotations because all of you naysayers described your situation using that word.

It’s like you’re driving cross country and you unwittingly took a detour, so you stop at a run-down gas station to ask for directions. Out steps this hoary mechanic with a Mainer accent who’s lecturing you about turning the rocks over in your subconscious. You humor him for a little bit, and he may teach you something, but ultimately you just want to know how to get back on the interstate.

So this brings us to this post: what to do if you’re totally lost. You’re aimless, purposeless, and you feel like you’re wasting your life. It’s only once you get this squared away that you can begin to understand just how shameful you truly are.

The reason you’re lost, in essence, is because you lead the kind of life that makes you okay with being lost. If you lead the kind of life that makes being lost seem horrible, which it is, then the problem solves itself.

So here’s what I recommend to get you back on the interstate.

Remove all distractions

No more video games, television, Netflix, or mindless internet surfing. Only spend one hour per day maximum on the internet to do whatever work you need to do. Also, and this should go without saying, no porn or masturbation.

It’s easy to be aimless when your days are filled with Halo and fast-forwarding through double-fisting anal videos to get to the good parts. It’s only when you cut out the frivolity that you see just how horrible your life is. Self-awareness is always the first step of everything.

Work out

Begin lifting weights, doing sprints, pull-ups, and push-ups. Make it a routine. Keep a workout journal, and your goal is to simply improve on each lift per week. This is similar to how you would advance to the next level at Skyrim—now you can advance to the next level in military press. It’s like a whole different kind of video game that makes you feel better, look better, and forces you to consider maybe having respect for yourself.

Keep a journal

Write at least 100 words per day, and record it at the same time in the morning after waking up or at night before going to bed. This isn’t a journal about what you did that day. This is a journal about your thoughts and emotions. Only journal about the events of your day to reference when you had a certain thought or emotion. As you take record of what you’re thinking and feeling, you slow the process of your psychology down, and you become more aware of it.

At first, journaling will seem as pointless as a journalism degree, but keep at it and you’ll be able to step outside of yourself and view yourself like you would a rat in a maze, even in real time. You’ll think, “oh yeah, this emotional loop is coming up for me again, so let’s see if I can do something to get out of it before it takes control of my life, like it has been for years.”

Also, don’t tell anyone you’re keeping a journal, because usually the only guys who keep journals are about to go on a shooting spree.

Start small

Don’t look for a grand purpose or life direction. You’re probably never going to find one anyway. At least not for five years. Rather, begin doing something every day that you find meaningful. Maybe it’s writing an article on the Babylonians. Maybe it’s studying geography. Maybe it’s doing math problems. While doing something you think is important, in the absence of distraction, you will naturally become more involved in that thing. You’ll read books about it, meet people who are interested in it, and tackle bigger projects. Without distractions, your only other option besides doing work is to be bored out of your mind.

Be still

If you cannot even think of anything small to do every day, spend an hour a day sitting still. During this hour, do not eat or drink anything. Do not go to the bathroom. Do not check your phone. Do not even scratch your balls. By doing this, you’re making life excruciatingly boring, and your mind’s only option is to think of a way out of it.

Also, be sure no one walks in on you sitting still. This happened to me one time—it’s more awkward than if somebody walks in on you masturbating.

Get girls in your life

Girls are mirrors—they reflect back to you what you are. If you don’t understand what I mean by this, just get more girls in your life and you will understand. Even make friends with girls if you have to.

Make friends

Any dude will hang out with you if you ask enough. Dudes aren’t chicks. Find someone at work or in class or at the gym. Say, “hey, let’s grab a drink after this and watch whatever game is on television.” Ideally, the guy you ask will already be having people over to his house to watch the game. It’s safe to assume he won’t want to invite you, so insist automatically by offering to bring awesome nachos and beer. Most guys would have Betty Friedan over to watch the game if she brought awesome nachos and beer.

Once you’re out with the guy or you’re over at his place, make a few fart jokes, compliment his furnace set up, and that’s pretty much it. In every social situation, a guy who understands mechanics, brings foodstuffs, and doesn’t complain is a value.

Groom yourself

Even if you just mope around your house all day. Shower, shave, comb your hair, and iron your shirt. It’s like some magic trick that makes you not want to hate yourself so much.

Save 20 percent

The discipline required to save 20 percent of your paycheck trickles down through every aspect of your life. I suppose you’re eating mostly eggs and dried figs from now on.

However, don’t think saving money is a good way to save money. The best way to save money is to make money, to transform yourself into a thing who creates value for others. But you’re not that thing because you’re lost. So in the meantime, while you’re repairing the mill, do the next best thing and save money.


Of course, this advice isn’t just for the guys who emailed me about being lost. We’re all lost, in one way or another. We come to a fork in our career and we’re not sure which way to go. We groan to ourselves on our way to a job that we prepared most of our adult lives to get. Or we feel busy, which is the yuppie version of feeling lost.

When this happens to me, I always find a solution in turning off the internet and sitting still.

PsychologyMark Derian