Every few months I figure out the meaning of life.
I have never been able to put my finger on my own obsession with the very broad idea of existence. Regardless, it continues to fascinate me every day. Why am I here? What is perception? Does it matter? These questions are both a burden and a comfort to me. Though they constantly sit at the back of my mind, when a conclusion is finally reached I can’t think of anything more relieving. These conclusions help the pettier anxieties of my everyday life seem much less frightening.
My favorite moment of existential crisis happened somewhere in the winter of 2014 when I discovered my purpose. It was my junior year of high school, the ACT test was rearing its ugly head, and I couldn’t stop asking myself what I planned on doing with the rest of my existence. My first-world society almost demands a perfect balance between skill set, income, and happiness, and somewhere in my early-morning review of ACT math skills I realized that the only thing that would make me happy was helping others. No matter what I ended up doing, no matter if anyone remembered me for it or not, I knew I needed to help people in order to feel even remotely satisfied with my life.
Most of the time, I forget what my “breakthroughs” into the philosophical even are after a few days. This one, however, has stuck with me. My own conscious attacked it from every angle, and yet it still stands firm. The hardest battle to fight was when I realized that every thought we have is narcissistic to some degree. There is no doubt in my mind that my need to help others is also for my own selfish gain. What makes that melodramatic thought easier to swallow is that empathy for others is so highly valued in our species, and the determination required to make a big difference is often difficult to find.
My sophomore English teacher once told me that existential crises are a catalyst for change. It was one of those moments where I just subconsciously knew something but no one had ever put it into words. It changed the way I view change. After discovering my purpose, I set out on looking for opportunities to fulfill that purpose, and I found that in Global Citizen Year. Or rather, it found me.
Or did it? Was it fate or the coincidental result of an uncaring universe? Uh oh.