Struggle is a natural part of human existence. John F. Kennedy once said, “Do not pray for easier lives, pray to be stronger men.” The idea of struggle, having conflict with someone or something else, is viewed as a negative subject in the eyes of many people. However, it is because of your struggles that you are who you are today, and you should be thankful for them.
My struggle is mainly a mental one. I have experienced many times what is called an existential crisis. An existential crisis is when someone questions their own life, and if it has any value, meaning or purpose. It is the idea that we can decide how we live our lives, through our own action or inaction. I have been struggling with this crisis for almost a full year now, ever since I learned about it in Frederick Nietzsche’s philosophy in April of 2015. It puts me through an incredible amount of discomfort at times, because there is no black and white answer to it. It occupies my mind on a daily basis. However, it has helped me in many regards: it taught me how to be calm in the face of huge problems.
The most efficient way to combat problems is to break them down into smaller pieces and complete them systematically to solve the problem in its entirety. It has also unveiled my hidden love for philosophy. I really don’t know where my mind would be at this time in my life if it wasn’t for it. Lastly, it has also challenged me in an intellectual way that regular academics never could. Sadly, I have never been truly challenged or passionate about learning anything in the standard education system, but philosophy has opened up my passion for learning and has challenged me with the most complex questions out there. It has uncovered what interests me in the world, and what I want to continue to do for the rest of my life.
I remember one time when I was conversing with a friend over the topic of meaning and existence, she said to me something along the lines of “I wish I didn’t have the mind that I do. I wish I didn’t think as deeply as I do. I just want an average life where I’m not concerned with these big picture questions and finding meaning in existence.” I was completely blown away and genuinely upset when I heard her say such a remark. The conversation went on, but it was in this moment that I found out something very important about myself: although I struggle with finding meaning in my life, I still push to find it. The mental uncomfortableness and cognitive dissonance associated with existential crises can be very overbearing at times, but I am thankful for every second of it. Because it is during these times of deep thinking and reflection that I truly feel alive and come to an understanding of not only myself, but the world around me.
Struggle is bound into the human condition, and no one can escape it. But that’s okay! Struggle is a good thing: it allows us to understand ourselves and the world more thoroughly. And it is those who live through struggle that we wish to be like; those who return with stories of great redemption and show the power of their will. So push on and keep forging ahead fighters, for I have faith that you can and will succeed, and that you will learn much on the way through your trials.