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  • Writer's pictureSally Maeng

Fighting against the meaningless of life

Andrew's story


"Meaningless! Meaningless!...Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless." (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

Life sucks. What's the point of working hard when your efforts will only go so far? What's the point of having fun all the time when eventually, everything becomes mundane? There are eight billion people in this world. So what makes me unique, and why do I matter? Mmh, you gotta love a good existential crisis.

I heard this multiple times from multiple sources: humans are meaning-making creatures. For most if not all of us, to have no meaning is frightening, chaotic, and depressing. It leads to some of us dwelling upon it in melancholy. Others avoid it with distractions. Or perhaps you walked through and came out with a satisfying resolution (again for the 4th time).

Even if you don't follow a religion or believe in a higher power, we like knowing there is a reason for why things happen. We yearn to claim and caress identity and purpose.

This dread extends after death, where most if not all of us want to leave a legacy behind. We want to be remembered for something. Andrew would love to be known for bringing down (dumb) political walls to help society achieve what really matters, like ending world hunger. He would also be pleased knowing that he helped VanArts students fall in love with the magic of design.

Leaving a legacy is more than having people say nice things about you at your funeral. It's this idea that the meaning of your life extends beyond death, whether that's in the forms of statues, social policies, Google doodles, or invisible fingerprints on people's lives.

So, where do passions come in? Andrew is passionate about using passions to fight existential dread. We both agree passions help give meaning to our lives. They make life worth living. Whether that's passion towards a religion, career, personal philosophy, hobby, and more, holding onto our passions gives us a sense of identity and purpose. Therefore, passions can help us fight against existential crises.

Did you notice the plural "s" after passion? You're allowed to have multiple passions. In fact, I think it's this variety and combination that contributes to our unique identities and wards off existential dreads.

For example, Andrew went on and on about his favourite architect, Zaha Hadid, then moved onto the Fermi paradox. Then he got fired up about world damnation due to self-righteous ego, and he finished by talking about how there's still hope. This is all within just 30 minutes.

To be clear, we're not saying that figuring out your passions will immediately end your existential problems. Otherwise, we wouldn't pay $120 for psychology sessions. The point we're making is that passion is more than just a hobby. It's an energy that fuels you to live your brightest life when the world feels dark.

despite knowing

they won't be here long

they still chose to live

their brightest lives

--sunflowers (Rupi Kaur, the sun and her flowers)


To contact Andrew and learn more about this story, follow @nethseye on Instagram.


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