But she's been "depressed for months pondering her life". She is finding it difficult to come to terms with her childlessness:
The future is freaking her out and even the present she's finding hard to cope with. She always thought the brilliant thing about not having kids “is that you can do what the f*** you like, but I don't want to do what the f*** I like. I can do anything. I can travel around the world, I can stay up all night drinking, I don't have to answer to anyone. But I don't want to be like that anyway.” ... sometimes I question the whole big scheme of things. How does it all work? What's it all for? If I was a grandmother I'd have this other kind of arc where things go but I don't have an arc. The only thing I have is me.”
Emin's disenchantment is expressed in some of her artworks:
This is what she meant in her photographic self-portrait, I've Got it All, which shows Emin giving birth to a pile of banknotes: “I was saying I haven't actually got anything, that's it. There's no other level of fecundity that's coming out of me except this material one. The raw stuff, the thing that propels people through life, that's not happening to me.”
So maximising individual autonomy through money, career status, independence and casual relationships hasn't brought Emin to a condition of liberty or emancipation. She feels instead cut off from significant, fulfilling aspects of life.
Nor has the pursuit of autonomy created a "self-determining" character type. Instead, Emin tends to be passive and naive when pondering her fate - as if her situation is something that has simply happened to her and over which she had no control. For instance, we read:
She's been ... pondering her life, the "children thing", she tells me again and again. It's getting to her. Where are they? Why doesn't she have any? Will she ever?
It doesn't seem to be all that difficult to explain why she has no children: abortions in her twenties, shacking up with unsuitable men, and deliberately leaving motherhood to an advanced age.
I don't think Emin is alone in refusing to consider the reasons for things. It seems to be a characteristic of Western modernity. Perhaps it's because the Western orthodoxy doesn't like to recognise a given human nature, believing the existence of such a nature to be an impediment to autonomy. This, though, means that it's difficult to consider, and to grow knowledgeable about, the role of this nature in human affairs.
Similarly, if your focus is on autonomy - on the idea that we should be unimpeded in choosing according to our own will - then it becomes difficult to ask things of other people. On what basis can we expect others to act for our own benefit? So we can only hope or assume that they will. There is no principled basis for expecting that someone will act in a certain way toward us.
Consider too that autonomy is maximised by making everything as "open" as possible, so that our options are made to seem unlimited. To suggest that some things might not work out as well as others is therefore, in modernist terms, to set limits and to be judgemental. The scope for judgement becomes more limited.
Perhaps there are other factors in play as well. Regardless, it does seem to be true that modernity has not fostered a confidently "self-determining" character type.