Have you ever questioned the meaning of life? Have you ever wondered if anything you’ve done has been pointless? Have you ever wondered why all our choices have absurd consequences? If you answered yes, you might have had an existential life crisis or could be an existentialist.
Such questions often revolve around “feelings of unease about meaning, choice, and freedom in life.” They are commonly asked when someone has an existential life crisis. The feelings they incur tend to unravel during a liminal part of your life or moments of sudden change.
Some of the Causes of Existential Life Crisis are:-
● Intense feelings of guilt
● The death of a loved one or the concept of human mortality
● Feeling socially unfulfilled
● History of repressing emotions
According to Arlin Cuncic (2019), “the feelings surrounding an existential life crisis reflect “the idea … that life is inherently pointless, that our existence has no meaning because there are limits or boundaries on it, and that we all must die someday.” This intense feeling of doom is debilitating and hard to recover from if one were not to have a support system in place.
Going through an existential life crisis is draining; unfortunately, we cannot avoid it. These feelings relate to the “awareness of the ultimate boundaries in life, which are death and chance.” This awareness is common and has existed since the 19th century and need not be pathological. Though obsessing about that awareness could be categorized as pathological.
Such feelings of hopelessness and the meaninglessness of life tend to be momentary. However, if you ever feel overwhelmed or these feelings become too much to bear, consider going into therapy or immediately contacting a medical practitioner.
Some Symptoms to look out for are:
● Feelings of
● Being overwhelmed
● Isolation oneself from family and friends
● Lacking motivation and drained of energy
● Feeling lonely
● Obsessive worry
Considering that we question the meaning of life and our purpose on Earth while going through an existential life crisis, it is befitting to talk about existentialism briefly. This movement flourished across Europe throughout the 1940s and 1950s. However, it stems from the 19th-century philosophies of Søren, Kierkegaard, and Friedrich Nietzsche.
According to existential philosophers like Jean-Paul Sartre, we have to live through the thoughts and feelings that pass through our minds when we have an existential life crisis. To do that, we have to live authentically. But that can only happen when the choices we make are inspired by the things we imbue with meaning.
However, if we were to follow a path set down by our community, family, or religion, then according to Sartre, we have bad faith. This bad faith is a refusal to accept The Absurd. But what is The Absurd?
The Absurd propagates the belief that we are born into a universe where we and the world we live in lack inherent importance. This concept is critical because it implies that a search for answers in an answerless world is an act of absurdity. But the irony is for us to live the authentic life that Sartre talks about, we have to accept the absurdity of our world and live despite it, bearing the weight of our freedom completely.
Keep in mind that despite Existentialism being about the pointlessness of our life, it does not disqualify the existence of the sciences (physics, chemistry, biology, and ecology). All it claims is that our humanity can’t be scientifically understood. This holds even when we supplement our scientific understanding with a moral framework.
In the end, this philosophical theory does not promote a pessimistic view of life. All it does is ask us to question the value we imbue things and recognize the meaninglessness of such things.