How The President Trump Gave Me An Existential Crisis
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How The President Gave Me An Existential Crisis

And how I got over it.

How The President Gave Me An Existential Crisis

There really is no way to prepare for what it's like when the bottom falls out from under your world. It's a terrifying feeling when everything you thought to be settled fact is suddenly revealed to be hollow and meaningless.

In the winter of 2016 I went through what I can only describe as an existential crisis. What brought about this crisis was the full realization that Trump was to be our next President and all that that entailed. Like millions of other people, both in the US and abroad, I fully assumed that the election of Clinton was a forgone conclusion and that people would never seriously entertain the notion of a Trump presidency; people were better than that or a least knew better than that. I must also confess that I was guilty in indulging in that most egregious of sins, Whig history, or the belief that history is on an inevitable march to a more enlightened world. I ultimately paid for this hubris with my existential crisis when these beliefs and their supporting frameworks were destroyed.

For those who've never experienced an existential crisis firsthand, let me just say it was the single most disconcerting feeling I've ever had the displeasure of experiencing. It felt as though I was in constant free fall and that noting I could possibly grab onto could save me. Every waking moment was marked by anxiety and doubt as the truths of my world were swept away. The past became a place of sorrow, the present became a place of unbearable anxiety and the future became a place of endless dread. I knew that no matter what I did no matter where I turned there was no escape; there was no making this right. The most sickening part was the knowledge that while my material condition would remain unchanged in my day-to-day life, countless others could be destroyed for no real reason. Compounded on that were the images of the various future horrors that could be visited upon us all by his hands.

So, how then did I overcome such a bleak assessment of the world and my place in it? It was not easy; it required a lot of soul searching and quite a bit of philosophical jerry rigging. The first step was taking a page from the Stoics and coming to terms with what exactly I could do about any of this mess and the answer I realized was not a lot. I hold no important office nor possess any great wealth; all I have is my voice and my vote. Not exactly the most intimidating of tools, but worse dictators have been toppled by less. I have attempted to use these tools to the best of my ability; voting, volunteering, and staying informed no matter how much I'd prefer ignorance. I have ultimately come to adopt the position that I will not let the actions of one administration dictate my wellbeing, I will either strive to fulfill my goal of making the world a better place or die trying. The way I see it, either I will succeed in my goal of doing my part to help people or I won't need to care much about any thing as I will have bitten the dust.

The second and much more complicated step was sifting through my beliefs and sorting the true from the false and reckoning with what exactly I still had faith in. Though Trump severely tested my faith in many things, mainly humanity, he ultimately did not break it. I still retain my faith, albeit chastised, that most humans, barring a small minority, are basically good and strive to do good and that they are simply easily led astray by their own weaknesses and blind spots. The Trump Administration in many ways exemplifies this view that a bad minority leads many otherwise good people astray by preying on their vulnerabilities. I also still maintain my faith in human progress albeit a more nuanced view of that progress. On viewing the sweep of history one can only conclude that we are living in the best possible period of human history as so many of the age old enemies of mankind; disease, war, slavery, and famine are on the decline. This is not to say though that progress once attained is permanent; set backs and regressions are very possible as the benefits of progress are hard won but easily lost, whether through inattention or inaction.

While I have managed to overcome my existential crisis this does not mean that the danger has passed. Trump remains a lingering source of dread for me as his actions push from the uncomfortable to the unthinkable. There have been several points where I feared a relapse into an existential crisis; after the Vegas shooting when I finally realized that we are not going to do anything about our gun problem, during the North Korea summit when the depth of the incompetence of this administration became fully exposed, and most recently during the separation of migrant families at the border in an act that is as cruel as it is senseless. Thus far I have avoided it, but I still fear that something will send me back into that anxious void and I shall not be cured of that fear until a Democrat is being sworn in as the 46thpresident in January of 2021.

I believe that I am not the only person Trump has driven into an existential crisis between his election and now, and I also fully believe that many people are not quite aware of what exactly Trump has driven them into. I write about my experience in the hopes that it will give someone insight into their own issues with Trump as well as a way to overcome it.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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