Existence: A Crisis
Morgan Donahue 2.21.2019
Walking across campus I am suddenly very aware of my presence: the way the air feels against my skin, the light shining in my eyes, the other people around me having similar and yet wildly different experiences, the fact that I am taking up real space and my physical being is the outward expression of myself. I know this feeling all too well and fight with myself to spur the oncoming existential crisis.
I often have moments like these—questioning my consciousness and sending myself into an existential tailspin. Questions such as “Why am I me?”, “Why do I have this consciousness in this body?”, “Why am I not in a different body?”, “Is my body me or just a vessel through which I express myself?” race through my mind and I get sucked into a hole that I have to dig myself out of.
Existentialism is not a new concept. Since the beginning of philosophy, we have been questioning the nature of our existence and contemplating what it means to be conscious. Existentialism as a philosophical term did not come about until around the 1930’s when many philosophers began to truly contemplate existence.
As existentialism is not a new concept, it is certainly not unique to my experience either. Internet culture is ripe with existential ideations and many of my friends experience crises around their consciousness on the regular. When I was talking to people about existentialism in preparation for writing this post I found that a lot of the thought processes are very similar in their formation. Myra, my editor (and friend), says that when she gets contemplative about her existence she thinks about “how small I am in this world that doesn’t care about me”, and I could not be more on the same page.
Thinking about my purpose in this world and where I fit into the bigger picture, I wonder if there is truly something intended for me by the universe or if everything is the product of complete and utter chaos. These thoughts fill me with anxiety but for Zane, the Production Manager here at KRUX, there’s comfort in knowing that things are so much bigger. “[Its] not that I don’t matter, but like things could be worse. Now when I think about my problems I try to go more existential and think about how it could be worse.” Using that mindset to put things in perspective is not something I had considered.
When we consider the nature of our existence, there are so many ways that we can choose to think about it. This could come in the form of understanding that we are at the will of the universe and having to live with the knowledge that we don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, like Myra, or it could come in the form of using that knowledge as an empowering force that puts our experiences in perspective, like Zane.
Much like Myra, I struggle to deal with the fact that I am so small and so powerless in this universe. I want to understand what happens when we die, where our consciousness goes, how I fit into the grand scheme of it all. I know that I’m not alone in these thoughts, and it is comforting to know that other people are struggling to understand their place in this chaotic mess. At the end of the day we all want to answer the question “Why am I here?”. Even though it’s the reason for my abundance of existential crises, we may never know the answer.
We have to be okay with that.
Adulting is Boring
Morgan Donahue 2.14.2019
Why is there so much pressure to “grow up”? Why can’t we retain some of our childhood whimsy?
- Culture of rushing into maturity
- Pressure to get rid of anything “childish” in favor of being considered “adult”
- Children wanting to look and be treated like full grown adults—leads to grooming (idk if I should talk about this)
- Adults expected to refrain from enjoying anything considered “childish”
- Cartoons, toys, stuffed animals, cute things, etc
- I am NOT talking about adult babies (not to kinkshame but like ew)
- Going beyond teenage “I’m grown now I can make my own decisions”
- FOMO in the form of wanting to be considered grown up
- Childrens clothing emulating teens and adult clothing—sexualizing children
- Too much pressure to succeed, not enough focus on being a kid
- Too much pressure to be successful for adults as well, and with the growing income inequality its harder to find time for leisure
My best friend in high school told me that, when she was around eight years old, she threw out all her stuffed animals because she felt like she had to “grow up”.
When I was in middle school, I begged my mom to let me start wearing makeup—I just wanted to be cool and “mature” like all the other girls I saw wearing makeup around me.
Nowadays my 16 year-old brother makes fun of me for doing or enjoying anything he deems to be childish or dumb.
We all go through a phase where we think we are getting too old to enjoy the things we love, and subsequently, want to make drastic changes to ourselves in an attempt to grow up and fit in.
I know I definitely went through that phase when I was in middle school: I was absolutely one of those “I’m so cool and mature I listen to classic rock” kids for a little while. Or at least I tried to be. The thing was, I wasn’t really into classic rock like that. I was just desperate to seem “mature” while still retaining some individuality (in what might have been the most cliché way possible).
Despite my attempts to emulate adult maturity through makeup and my music choices, I was still a child and that was not going to change no matter how I acted, looked, or thought about myself.
Now that I’m almost 20 (which really isn’t that old in comparison but like whatever) I know that it’s okay to hold onto some of that child-like whimsy and enjoy things many people would consider childish. I am not ashamed to say that I still love to watch cartoons (like did y’all watch the new She Ra? Damn) and I still sleep with the stuffed animal I’ve had since I was 4.
I’m not ashamed of these things and yet I get nervous to tell people about my bunny because I don’t want to be perceived any differently than I already am.
But I love all things cute and dorky and the idea that just because I’m considered “grown” means that I have to sacrifice things that I love in the name of “maturity” is bogus. Life is too short to be worried about whether or not your hobbies and interests are mature enough in the eyes of other people. That isn’t to say there’s not a more insidious side to this maturity culture, however.
There is immense pressure on us to grow up as fast as we can. Once we start middle school, we are desperately trying to find somewhere to fit in. Thanks to pop culture, that pressure to grow up and fit in is all-encompassing: especially since we have unlimited access to social media and other areas of the internet.
Social media bombards us with images and ideas that we feel like we need to emulate in order to fit into society. You might say “Oh it’s just social media how harmful is it actually?” but you would be surprised the effects that influencer culture is having on today’s kids. Most obviously this is seen in children barely hitting puberty feeling as though they need to wear a full face of makeup in order to look presentable.
Why are kids going to middle school with a full beat face? The makeup I wore in middle school was like some shitty black eyeliner in my waterline, some ELF eyeshadow, and some mascara.
Not only are middle schoolers (and younger) wearing layers of makeup to school, the clothes they are being sold are trying more and more to mimic the fashion of teenagers and grown women.
Because of social media and the pressure to grow up and conform to the standards set by our peers and celebrities, children are becoming more and more sexualized by the makeup and fashion industries. And when these girls are told they need to act older than they are, creepy men take advantage of their need to fit in and be mature. I don’t know about you, but it creeps me out that men (and women) are using this culture as an excuse to be gross and we certainly shouldn’t be letting them.
Obviously, growing up is a part of life. But why rush the inevitable? Let kids be kids for as long as they can because the adult world really isn’t very fun anyway. They shouldn’t have to be afraid of being themselves and growing at their own pace (rather than the one society is telling them is acceptable).
Beyond that, you shouldn’t feel obligated to give up every last trace of your childhood for the sake of maturity. Sleep with your stuffed animal, cry over your favorite cartoons, paint your room funky colors, don’t be afraid to set boundaries for adult things that make you uncomfortable. The best part of growing up is being able to do all the things you wanted to as a kid but didn’t get to. Life is too short not to be enjoyed—no matter how you want to enjoy it.