How long is too long to have an existential crisis? Are you supposed to "outgrow" the feeling when you get a job with insurance and business cards? Or do we all secretly carry out our private and ever so personal crises?
In an attempt to return to the world of journaling, I carried out the mistake of re-reading some of my old entries. They are thought experiments and endless rambles, but I could identify one unifying theme across it all: I have never fully known who I am. While this is probably starting to sound like a baby boomers idea of what a millennial sounds like, I shall carry on undeterred, so hear me out. As a child, I was obsessed with being praised. I liked being told I was good at this or that. I think it's natural for most children to want attention. But as I grew older, I began to identify with what I was good at. It sounds harmless at first, until you begin to define your person as a student, as a grade, as a type of friend, as a type of daughter. When you falter and hit a misstep - as most humans inevitably do - what do you do? What if you are no longer the best student? What if you thought you were defined by getting A's, but suddenly you're failing exams? That's what happened to me. I was a great high school student, and then I struggled in several of my courses in college. I was unhappy. I was no longer good at the only thing I knew how to be good at - and how to be rewarded for.
I learned about existentialism in my first semester of college, and I think since then I've been able to put a name to the feeling I've had for a majority of my life: who am I? What is my purpose, if any at all? Throughout the years I have given myself a variety of titles: I am a student, I am an engineer, I am a contractor, I am a researcher, I am an immigrant. Titles. Labels. But what if you've never really known who you are, but what you do? How do you learn to be yourself in a world that touts authenticity but only when it is of a certain flavor (rich, beautiful, creative, loud, quirky)? I don't quite know.
Writing this seems far to reminiscent of the things I used to write as a teenager. I sound like a lost child trying to make her way around the universe. But frankly, I think many of us are. If I, or a minority, truly are the only one experiencing a lifelong existential crisis, please do tell what the secret to figuring this all out is. Much appreciated.