Whenever one experiences suffering, it triggers him to start questioning his whole life and if anything that he did was even relevant. His accomplishments seem trivial and immaterial. This is an existential crisis. Essentially, it is questioning our lives’ purpose, its significance and the true meaning of being ourselves.
Although few philosophers believe intellectuals with a deep-thinking ability are more likely to have an existential crisis, science proves otherwise. According to physiatrists, the depressed and unfulfilled are most likely to have an existential crisis. Which sadly, is most of the population. Approximately 16.8 million in the United States of America alone. Existential crises are usually fuelled by the sudden realisation of the naked truth, a glimpse in the concept of existentialism.
“Existentialism understands human beings to be ‘thrown’ into a world of insecurity, unsheltered from the misery of their own limitations and mortality.” – Anja Steinbauer
The realisation of the incongruity of existence is something that needs to be confronted and fully understood.
So, what is the purpose of existence?
I believe, alongside numerous philosophers, once we are authentically human, we will gain self-realisation that will help us understand the purpose or meaning of our lives. Many philosophers believe that to truly understand what it means to be human, one has to strip away everything superficial––status, wealth, power and even virtue and honour. Once everything is stripped away, all that will be left is the human being.
Although the meaning and purpose of our existence may differ from person to person, one thing is for sure: we don’t know if the answer will be satisfying enough for some of us, leading to yet another disastrous existential crisis. This one much, much greater in magnitude.
-Ananya Trivedi, Amity International School, Noida1 Like