Do You Feel More Like an Observer of Life Than a Participant? 14 People Share Their Thoughts.

If you haven’t realized by now that it takes all sorts of folks to make the world go ’round in the most productive way, well, you probably haven’t been paying attention. We’re all made up a bit differently – some introverts, some extroverts, some who want attention and others who shun it.

Those are just a few examples, but what happens when you’re dissatisfied with what seems to be your lot in life?

This OP (original poster) is wondering whether feeling like an observer of life instead of someone living their life is normal…and if it’s ok.

Does anyone else feel like they’re just an observer and not an active participant in life?
byu/Asderio09 inNoStupidQuestions

These 14 people have some great thoughts on the matter.

14. It could be anything. Or just a human thing.

Really! I’ve been saying this about myself for decades. I looked up depression and every definition or take on it. I know that’s not a diagnosis but I feel like I’m not depressed. A pussy maybe? An avoider of tangled webs? Sure. Someone who just doesn’t really care? Definitely. I remember reading that people felt weird eating alone or going to the movies alone. It never crossed my mind just like this.

I’m just generally amused by observing. I hate to say it but it’s the only thing that fits. Nihilist maybe? Cringy, I know.

I sleep because I’m sleepy. I eat because I’m hungry. I do whatever I feel is bothering me the most in the moment. That is as far as purpose as I’ll go. As far as meaningful stuff in the future that will inevitably come up, I’ll cross that road when it comes but try not to look back in regret.

Go ahead and give me an online diagnosis based just on what I wrote. It’s ok, it’s free so I’ll take it with a grain of salt!

13. Get out and do it…someday.

i feel that way because i never really do anything. even though i want this life full of adventure and crazy stories.

i never go out and make them happen.

i kind of just exist, like i always have

12. It might be depression.

High functioning depression sounds like this.

I’ve always enjoyed people watching and observing rather than doing. But then I force myself to do a lot of things even though I never truly enjoy them, seeing my friends/family enjoy that I’m there is something.

Making others happy around you makes you feel like your life has more meaning and a purpose.

11. The grass is not always greener.

I lead a life that most people think is full of adventure and crazy stories, and somehow I often feel like the observer too.

10. It might be the worse kind of depression.

as someone with severe depression who gets dissociation, depersonalization and derealisation I disagree.

dissociating is extremely unpleasant

9. No one’s life is all highlights.

One thing I’ve read is, “Don’t compare someone else’s highlight reel to your behind the scenes footage.”

I think that’s important to remember.

8. Some people are just happy being alone.

Yeah, I feel like I’ve observed my whole life and never really participated, but I’ve pretty much always been ok with it. I never thought it was a problem. I’ve always been ok with being the only person in my life. I love doing things alone.

When I’m with others, especially groups, I very much struggle to find meaning in the interactions so I basically just observe, but not in a sad way, I just don’t feel the need to participate unless I’m doing so in a way that is meaningful/helpful.

I was diagnosed with depression a few years back and I’ve been “managing” it ever since. But the funny thing is, when I look back to when I was a child, I felt the same. And even looking into the future, if I end up with someone, or have kids or whatever, I feel like it won’t change the core of my default mode.

But like I said, I’m not unhappy with it. It just is what it is and I don’t mind haha

7. Being left behind doesn’t feel great.


For a couple of years I’ve kind of just feel like I’m invisible or something.

Or like I’m stuck in place while everyone else goes on without me. Feels bad, man.

6. Don’t worry about pretending.

I’m on the exact same page, man.

I don’t care about diagnoses.

My behavior is the result of my nihilistic perspective and I’m fine with it.

I’m not happy about it. I’m not sad about it. But I’m definitely over trying to pretend that I care about things that I don’t.

The biggest stressor in my life is my family trying to convince me that something’s wrong. I take care of myself. I eat well. I exercise. I have no debt or dependents.

I could disappear right now and nobody’s life would be interrupted.

5. There are ways up and out.

I felt like this for years.

Struggled with depression, anxiety, and a slew of other things during that time. Last year, I got a job at a Juvenile treatment center, more specifically a trauma center. Got some promotions, started making good money and became pretty well liked at work. Since then I’ve made a lot of really good friends (funny how stress and really crazy situations bring people together) and I’ve been a lot happier.

Helping kids and having people who look to me when shit hits the fan has really done a lot for my confidence in life. Doing odd jobs before, and going through the motions, without putting effort into work or my relationships really did make me feel like I just kind of existed. I’m like, waaaaay more tired all the time now, but at least I have a lot of good reasons to wake up in the morning now.

4. Huh.


Everything is so surreal and I feel like I’m watching my life play out. I’m aware, but not aware. Often I’ll know where I am physically, but not know where I am physically. It’s pretty f*cking wack just basically being a ghost unable to grasp the world around you.

3. Hold your breath and leap.

The “stuck in place” part hit me hard. Wanting to change and develop yourself, but never really getting closer to where you want to be is a shitty feeling. I don’t have the perfect plan for overcoming this, but i do think that the “just go for it” method is a possible solution.

Going for opportunities and being in uncomfortable situations made me happier and more socially active. Creating opportunities, like finally getting a job was also helpful and made me feel a bit of accomplishment.

I wish you the best, truly and i hope you find yourself in control over your life soon. Stay strong my man.

2. Find your meaning.

This happened to me when I went to University. I was the second best student in my class in college, I was proud of that fact.

As soon as I went to Uni I realized just how small I am how pointless everything was as there’s another 300 people just like me doing this course, another 30,000 around the country doing the same thing. Why should I try If someone else could easily replace me. If theres another 30,000 people doing this course then why should I try, why should I bother with anything.

I actually dropped out of Uni after my second year because of depression. Went to a therapist for a handful of sessions before going on antidepressants for a year.

Feel much better now and really enjoy life, especially the new course im doing at uni 🙂

1. It never hurts to get a professional opinion.

I went through this big time in college. The best description I found was from a song. “Have you ever walked through a room But it was more like the room passed around you? Like there was a leash around your neck that pulled you through…”

But yea. That’s a sign of depression. Start by putting extra effort into connecting with friends and family. If that’s either too hard to do or not enough to help you out I suggest talking to a professional.

I think everyone feels this way sometimes, but it would be disconcerting to feel this way all the time.

If you’ve got thoughts of your own, share them with us in the comments!