When I am struggling to put things into words, that is a problem because writing is the one thing that helps me to clear my head. I have a lot of questions – probably the same questions we are all asking ourselves. What am I doing with my life? What do I want to do with my life? What direction should I take? What am I interested in? What is the point? How can I make a difference? When all of these questions feel overwhelming it can be really hard, impossible in fact, to trust that things will just work out. I am a strong believer in the idea that the universe will take care of me if I let it. Perhaps that is naïve of me. But I don’t believe in a God, I don’t pray. And there are a lot of questions that cannot be answered. What is the meaning? Of life? Of anything? So having a bit of trust, a bit of hope somewhere, whether it is God or a spirit or the universe, it calms me.
I find it very easy to get lost in my tangled thoughts. And because I feel unable to straighten them out, I just start playing the victim, because that is easier to do. I think for me, the challenge is not to try to untangle and organize everything (literally and mentally) but to be okay with things as they are. And that is where trust comes in.
One morning, I woke and instantly felt nauseous, terrified by the thought of the day ahead. Every little thing caused me anxiety. And made me question ‘what is the point?’ Henry held me tight and said that I was experiencing some existential worries. Being stuck in my anxiety I did not ask what he meant by that. Today, the sun was out and the weather was a bit warmer and I felt okay. The worries, the questions, they don’t go away but I just feel stronger and more able to accept them. And so, I started reading a little about existential angst.
Funnily enough I ended up on a website called Quora (which Henry has been encouraging me to look at for months and months). Jeremy Arnold explains existential angst in terms that I think I can wrap my brain around…
The main schools of existentialism bond around the core idea that existence precedes essence, which is to say that any descriptions of man are only historical and carry no value in defining what man might (or should) become. Man is whatever he decides to be. He has gone from a type of creature to a living experiment.
If true, that leaves all of us with a massive sense of responsibility; for we, by how we choose to live our lives, will redefine what it is to be a man. We have no guidebook, no scorecard, and no moorings. We are completely alone in our freedom, bearing infinite responsibility and yet without any possibility of feedback, criticism, or validation.
The exhilarating, unprocessable, and mostly crushing feeling of that realization? That's existential angst.
I began reading about Jean-Paul Satre's book Nausea. (It is so easy to buy things online!) So I guess that will arrive in the mail soon. I also began reading about some wonderful women who are doing their own things, pursuing what they are interested in and making a difference, a small one, but a difference nonetheless. And on top of that they have families to look after. I know that I am capable of doing that - of following my dreams and having a family. But, I don't know what my dreams are yet. I'm not sure what I am interested in. What do I want to pursue?
I always intend to write here with some kind of reminder to help me next time I face the same problems. So that next time I am inconsolable, paralysed by anxiety and unanswerable questions, I can look back and be reminded that it is okay. And it is okay. It hasn't changed. I haven't changed. I just feel stronger. As Henry so rightly reminded me today, these women are a good 10 years older than me and they have probably faced the same problems, had the same unanswered questions and come to the conclusion that it will happen. Whatever 'it' is. And once we find 'it' then we can pursue it.
But for now, I just need to be. And enjoy being. And be okay with it. I have to remember that I am not in a rush. Everything will happen in good time. Don't rush the precious moments that are happening today. Don't be so focused on what might or might not happen tomorrow.
It is a constant battle. A constant struggle. It doesn't get any easier, but I will get better at understanding it.