An existential crisis is a moment at which an individual questions the very foundations of their life: whether this life has any meaning, purpose, or value. It is commonly tied with depression and/or a feeling of a lack of purpose in life, e.g. “One day I will be forgotten… what is the point of all of my work.”
I’ve only set foot on a boat once when in recent times, and it was miserable. My host family wanted to make a family trip up to Hamburg, which we did. We walked around for a bit, procured ourselves ice creams and window shopped for a big. I had no idea that my host parents were intending for me to get on a boat that day, so when we ended up with three tickets for a cruise around one of Hamburg’s many ports, I was horrified. I didn’t want to be rude, so I “happily” climbed aboard. That was a horrible mistake.
I’d been hyper aware of every movement of the boat, of my own nausea and nervous, heavy heaving that the entire 45 minutes I’d been on the boat were some of the longest in my life. I wanted to vomit, cry, slap myself for being so stupid. Anxiety does that you sometimes. It’s worse when you end up tripping off the boat onto dry land, declaring that you’ll never do that again.
But there are rare moments that I think back on that day and find peace in it. I remember waving at the cruiseliners despite my host parents’ protest and feeling stupidly proud that I had done it, I had faced a longstanding yet baseless fear of mine. I had pissed off my host parents and most importantly, I’d let myself be me for a bit. Even if that wasn’t originally in my plans for Hamburg.
Yet somehow, I always come back to the same question: am I sailing through life or just meaninglessly meandering about?
I honestly don’t know. Which I suppose I should accept considering I’m only 19 years old and still don’t know the poroper protocol to doing laundry. And it’s unsurprising too. I’ve always been the renaissancen kid, talented at a wide variety of things: learning how to draw skillfully but rejecting art school, picking up on skiing in a day and speeding past friends, winning awards for poetry and my short stories as a child but never considering being a writer. I’ve always meandered and rode the ripe tide of my youth down paths that I violently rejected; which makes my time in college all the more scary and uncertain.
Tat’s what happens when you follow plans trying to be someone you’re not. I can also say that I absolutely love it when I meander in life, but that also wouldn’t be the truth. I have anxiety, I freak out when I don’t have structure and I freak out when I do.
My point is, it’s probably good that I’m experiencing a point of great uncertainty. I’ve always been the girl who excelled in academics, who was going to do something big, whether it be being a neuroscientist or doctor or… But I’m not sure if I can become those, and even more importantly if I want to become those things at all.
In a few months I’ll be twenty, and whose to say that it’s
I don’t’ even have a concrete answer to who I am. So why would I give a damn about having a life plan?
I thought when I was 18, life would go as the movies painted it. I’d find love in college and have a marvelous first academic year of college, all while simultaneously balancing a booming social life and winning awards for hobbies I hadn’t participated in for years. I thought by 19, all my anxieties would magically disappear and life would be looking up. By 20, I’d have it all figured out. Nothing of that happened and that’s okay. This is one of my life’s many zenith and it’s because I’m finally stopping and giving myself to chance to not always be in control.
Maybe I’m too young to be saying that I’m having an existential crisis, and maybe I’m not. But these entire ordeal has at least given me a chance to reevaluate everything in life, and for once, I don’t feel as anxious anymore. Leading up my senior year of high school and year abroad, there’s not much I could’ve told you about myself. I didn’t know if I liked anything other than art and to be liked. While all my friends abroad were finding themselves, I was forcing myself into the likable shell of myself
And now at the beginning of my sophomore year of college, I can say that I love writing. I always enjoyed creating stories and coming up with characters who’d have misadventures in my head. Or writing poetry that explained exactly what I was feeling without spelling it out in plain words. I can say that I love learning languages, even if I can’t pronounce any words for shit. Or that I enjoy drawing but will never find it as distressing activity. And I love the gym and that yoga frightens me and that I’m afraid of being seen as inadequate or insignificant in life.
Maybe the sigma of an existential crisis or whatever this is shouldn’t be all negative.