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Life as a Metaphor

Updated: May 23, 2022

During the lecture I held that involved the life map activity (see my previous article: Creating Your Own Life Map as a Powerful Tool), I also asked the students the following philosophical questions: What metaphor would they give their life map and would they agree to the concept that "life is a journey"? Interestingly, some of them agreed to it, while the majority of them suggested to give it the metaphor "life is a test" instead.

Life is Multi-Dimensional

Evidently, life is not one-dimensional. Life has so many different ways of expressing itself. It has multiple dimensions and, therefore, endless possibilities of metaphors can be found to describe one's life. Capturing one's life with one word or an image might be easy for some, but for others it might need a whole sentence or is rather something indescribable. Let's look at a couple of different examples of metaphors that people use to describe their lives and go a bit deeper into each one of them. Maybe you can relate to one of the examples below:

Life is a Journey

If you see your life as a journey, what kind of journey is it? Is it like a maze or more like a rollercoaster? Seeing your life as a maze means there are so many unpredictable encounters, possibly roadblocks or surprising turns and seeing it as a rollercoaster indicates ups and downs, nothing stagnant. When preparing for the unexpected, following your intuition and having goals can be helpful tools.

Life is a Test

If you see your life as a test, what kind of test is it? Who determines that test and if you passed it or not? Seeing life as a test means you are being tested for various reasons and that you most likely believe in God as the one who is testing you. You might go through life in a way that you are always cautious about the next steps you take since you are aware that each action has its consequences.

Life is a Book

If you see your life as a book with many chapters, which kind of book is it? Is it a novel, a science-fiction or a fantasy? Which chapter of your life are you in right now? To what extent do you realize that you are the author of your own life story? Believing that your life is a book shows that you are unique and that you believe in your uniqueness because there is no book that is the exact same as yours. You also understand that you can go through happy and sad chapters which demonstrates that you accept life with its good and bad moments.

Life is a Mystery

If you see your life as a mystery, what kind of mystery is it? Do you feel like it is a puzzle? Is it a puzzle because you go through life with so many questions that you are trying to figure out or do you see your life being full of discoveries and you are constantly eager to find the answers? Perceiving your life as a mystery means you are open-minded about the things that happen to you and embrace them as they come. You are adventurous and curious enough to overcome your fears of the unknown or unexpected.

Life is a Ladder to Success

If you see your life as a ladder to success, what is your end goal? Are you aiming for material wealth only? What does success mean to you? Wanting to achieve success is a common theme, one just needs to make sure that while doing so, one does not forget one's priorities and connections to other important things in life. You can still be both: successful and a considerate human-being.

Life is Holding on and Letting Go

If you see your life as a balance of holding on and letting go, as in Rumi's words, what kind of tricks do you use to ensure that balance? How does your work-love balance and your life-health balance look like? When looking at your life from this perspective of holding on and letting go, you acknowledge the equal importance of connections and personal growth. You are able to live independently and still be able to see value in the connections you have with others.

Life is a Lesson

If you see your life as a lesson, what lesson was the hardest for you to learn so far? Which lesson do you want to pass on to others? Perceiving your life as a lesson indicates your strong willingness to learn. Having such a trait requires an open mindset. Being willing to learn is worth it because it will allow you to experience life so much deeper.

Metaphors of Life Bring About Many Questions

Several questions come to mind when looking at all of these metaphors. The first question is: How do you go about your life being the metaphor you choose it to be? This leads to further questions, such as what is your approach, your attitude, your mindset, your self-perception and your perception of the world? When answering all of these questions you are asked to position yourself a certain way and to give your life meaning.

Opportunities and Struggles

You can say your life is something special that is given to you and only you can decide what metaphor fits to your life. At the same time, you go through life, you learn so much and you go through a development process where you receive endless opportunities to learn about yourself and about others. You will also face hardships, so-called storms, but these are all a natural part of life. We all struggle in some form, some struggle more than others and, ultimately, it's all about learning how to deal with our struggles.

Exchanging Metaphors Can Be an Enrichment

Exchanging metaphors in this context means exchanging mindsets. Such an exchange not only provides an opportunity to learn more about each other but also enables us to share memories together. It is important to understand that each one of us decides how much we want to share, what memories we want to keep about a place, an experience or a person we meet. Consequently, that we have different memories indicates the fact that we do not always have the same opinions or viewpoints. We are encouraged once again to accept our differences as something positive that we can learn from. No matter what metaphor you choose, keep in mind it can always change depending on where you stand in life. With that being said, life is beautiful because of all of its facets and possibilities.


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