n. a philosophical theory or approach that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will.
If you have read my other pieces for Heights, reader, you may notice or recognize a similar vein, a similar inkling, running throughout my words that I think also links this piece to my ever-growing train of thought on life. In the same way everything, and I mean everything, is intimately and intricately linked in all aspects of life, the same goes for living.
What does it mean to exist? Is it simply to breathe, to have blood flowing, providing, to say that you are not dead, that you are, in fact, alive? But then, what does it mean to be alive? Are existing and being alive one and the same?
I have long now realized, for myself, that my life is mine, my own, mine to live. I still value my family’s influence, my friends’ input, and the ebb and flow of the world, but at the end of the day (at the end of everyday), I make the decisions, and I create my own world as I want it, and as I need it.
All you may have just read is I, I, I, I, I. But there’s a reason it stands singular, represents an individual, and is capitalized—it’s important. It is important to recognize it, to become it, and to fulfill it. I am not endorsing complete selfishness, but when it comes to you and everything that that encompasses (thoughts, dreams, fears, beliefs), there is nothing that carries more authority than your own “I.” You know how people say “you can’t help someone else until you help yourself?” That’s because the world as we know it, that is the meeting point of all individual self-worlds, deserves the best world and self that can be contributed to the mix. Know where you stand, know what you want and need, know what mistakes you’ve made and own up to them.
I know, reader, that this is one side, and that it gets a lot more complicated than this. But break any complicated mass down, and keep breaking it down until eventually, each component, when standing alone, is actually simple. When you put it back together again, hopefully all you see is a coming together of many, maybe few, simple things. As I have learned, there is never a shortage of different ways to look at things. There is also never a shortage of problems, but neither is there ever a shortage of solutions.
The definition above for “existentialism” is a clear and powerful one. It’s beautiful, in a definition of a word, how the possible premise of one’s life can be laid out. These words: emphasizes, existence, individual, determining, acts of the will—when they’re put together like this, how can one help but find a pure and complete purpose for oneself?
If there is one more thing that I can say I have learned, however, it’s that one certain way may not work for everyone. Whichever method you take up in living your life, I hope it makes you happy, content, and fulfilled. Whichever side of existentialism you take, I hope you’re molding a great self. Above all else, I hope you’re creating your best self.