I don’t think anyone passes through life without questioning their entire existence at least once. It’s human nature, I suppose; that restless feeling of what’s the point in all of this? Then with that come other questions. Why do I wake up every morning? Why am I who I am? What made me this way? Am I wasting my youth? Why aren’t I more productive? How much control do I actually have? The questions often ultimately lead to you questioning yourself, your character, your aspirations, your purpose. If you allow your thoughts to stray even further, you may find yourself questioning every decision you’ve ever made. You begin to panic, thinking that you’ve left things too late, that time is accelerating and passing you by with no consideration of whether you’re ready or not. The distant fear of growing old before you’ve had the chance to live churns your gut until it’s no longer a distant fear, but an inevitable eventuality, and you wish to slow down time but the acceleration quickens and quickens until you’re certain it’s beyond too late; it’s over. You’ve run out of time.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I was around six-years-old when I first realised I was going to die some day. Nothing sparked the realisation. No one close to me had died, I’d not witnessed an accident, no grown up had discussed the topic of death with me. It just occurred to me. I was lying in bed at what felt like the middle of night, but was probably no later than ten, and it just struck me. This was going to end one day. My thoughts and memories, no matter how strong or vivid, would eventually be gone because I would be gone. I don’t think I’d cried so much in my whole six years of being as I did that night. While the thought of death doesn’t terrify me to the extent it did back then, it’s still uncomfortable to think about because with everything I do, I always have this niggling feeling of none of this will matter in the long run. I don’t believe in any form of god, nor do I believe there’s anything after all this other than a worm turning my remains into its new home. Consequently, ceasing to exist isn’t the most pleasant of thoughts.
This complex relationship with death is what I can only assume to be the backbone of the questions I ask myself daily–about who I am, what I’m here for, what made me the person I’ve become. That’s something I focus on a lot; why I am who I am. Am I a product of a messy combination of my parent’s successes and failings? Or was I just made like this, is it in my biology? To what extent can I control who I’m becoming? Whether or not I’m a good person is something I often fall into obsessing over, to the point where I feel like I’m losing control over my own body, my own thoughts, my own mind. It’s like I obsess over doing the right thing so much that I lose focus of what the right thing even is, and so my body shuts down and I enter this obscure autopilot mode where I have no control over anything. I do things I know will have negative consequences, yet continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.
The reality is that it’s impossible to do the right thing all the time, and though I’m consciously aware of that, I can’t help but let it torment me. I suppose I just have this irrational fear of ruining the little time I have on this earth with stupid mistakes, when in reality, I’m just wasting that time by worrying so much. I don’t think it’s possible to ever be fully content in life; there’ll always be something you don’t like, something you want to change, yet it’s something I think everyone and their dog strives for. Achieving that ultimate point of happiness is thrown at us from all angles, and so naturally, we crave the fantasy of it. That’s all it is, though; a fantasy. You’re going to make mistakes, do the wrong things, and regret some of the choices you’ve made, and you’re not a bad person for it. I often forget that.
Productivity, or a lack thereof, is something I frequently scold myself for. I’m a lazy person. I have interests I don’t pursue half as much as I should, I could live and eat far healthier than I do, and the lack of extracurricular activities I participate in is laughable. And I hate myself for it. Sometimes I lay in bed at night and drown in the panic that life is racing by, and instead of keeping up with it, I’m wasting it spending my time doing nothing of worth. I dread that one day, I’ll wake up at fifty-years-old and my youth will have been wasted on nothing when I should’ve been doing everything. Despite the intensity of this fear though, I continue to do nothing. I continue to ignore my interests, to eat badly, to do nothing outside of work and school. Then I hate myself even more. I have this horrid fear of a meaningless life, so why do I continue to live one? What is wrong with me? If there truly is nothing after death, why aren’t I doing anything to make life meaningful?
The thing is, none of this word vomit I’ve spewed makes me different to anyone. Everyone feels like this in some way or another, some more strongly than others, sure, but we all experience it. The true problem arises in the fact that we don’t talk about it. I think we all have this sort of special snowflake syndrome, where because we’re the main characters of our own stories, we all think we’re different to everyone else. No one else truly understands the world from our perspective, or can ever fully empathise with us. I don’t think that’s true. No two people are exactly the same, but we need to be open about this stuff–about this undying feeling of time moving too fast, about the fear of living a meaningless life, about being the right person and doing the right thing, about death.
So then what is the point in all of this? I don’t think there is one, honestly. I think we’re all just shaved apes searching for a purpose that doesn’t exist. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. There doesn’t have to be an end goal, or an ultimate destination, for something to be worthwhile. There doesn’t have to be anything after death to validate life. Maybe we’ll be remembered one hundred years after our deaths, and maybe we won’t. It doesn’t matter. It’s not like we’ll be around to bask in the achievement of it. The only way to truly waste a life, least from my perspective, is by religiously worrying about it instead of living it.