Receive existential self-help from the comfort of your home
February 18, 2019
In the pursuit of a college life, we often find ourselves confronted with deep questions: Who am I? Why am I doing what I’m doing? Questions like these haunt us, and it’s easy to understand why. They are, after all, difficult to answer.
Most of the time, there’s a simple solution; we can just ignore them. We can talk to friends, go to a bar or just get out of the house.
But what about when you can’t? What if you’re sick, your friends are all busy or you just don’t feel like getting out the door? How can you ignore your questions when you can’t distract yourself with social contact? You must prepare. You must be ready to hunker down and ride out your existential crisis from your home. Here are some tips to make it happen.
There’s a turn of phrase that equates a well-kept body with a well-kept mind. For our purposes, that’s hogwash. What, do you think you’re having an existential crisis because of your spleen? That your Taco Bell-and-Dorito diet are catching up to you in a moment of philosophical discontent? The crisis is for your mind. And mental wellness is not the same thing as physical wellness.
You can practice physical self-care, which probably means eating celery, and possibly Brussel sprouts, or instead, you can practice psychological self-care, which involves eating what you enjoy. Have some food that you actually like to eat, ready for bingeing.
Especially when you are riding it out at home alone, getting past an existential crisis is all about rationalization. So, here’s some free rationalization for you: Eating healthy food can wait until after the crisis is over. Unless the crisis is about how you can’t commit yourself to clean living.
If it is, then it’s time to bust out the Brussel sprouts. Maybe you could steam them. Or bake them. Or just throw them in the trash to save yourself the trouble. Whatever.
Sleep is pretty magical, when you think about it. It’s a big ‘ole restart button built into our brains. Especially when we’re having one of those late-night existential breakdowns, a great idea is to go to sleep and procrastinate the issue until we’re in a better frame of mind.
But here’s the tricky part. When we’re in a sleep-deprived, existentially dispirited state like that, we don’t want to sleep. The thought of going to bed with these thoughts still being unresolved is pure agony. You can’t possibly count on yourself to choose this option when it matters.
So you need to get sneaky. All you need is a couch, a fluffy pillow, a cozy blanket and some selective amnesia. Put the blanket and the pillow on the couch. Make the couch so comfortable it’s tough not to drift off. You will tell yourself you are only doing it to make a comfier couch. But, in reality, it’s all part of your cunning scheme.
With the couch weaponized according to these specifications, you will find yourself instantly transported four to eight hours into the future whenever you would normally lie down and hate yourself for a few hours. It’s the perfect crime.
Here’s a good word: Syzygy. It’s a noun. It refers to an alignment of celestial bodies. Nifty.
See what I did there? That’s called distraction. Instead of dealing with the problem at hand, you do something else to try to ameliorate it — which is another great word, by the way — indirectly. If you distract yourself, you can sometimes galvanize — wow, these words are just everywhere — yourself to solve the problem from another angle.
Read a book. Watch Netflix. Start a diary. Run for president of the United States. Whatever. The point is you distract yourself from where you are now to trick yourself into finding a new perspective. Rationalization is fun that way. It isn’t about solving the crisis, not really. Really, your goal is to get to a frame of mind where the crisis isn’t as big of a problem as you thought it was.
Solving your existential crises is easiest when you can talk them out. But sometimes, you’re stuck at home alone without any people, so follow these steps and deal with existential crises the good old-fashioned American way. It’s like opening a restaurant. Ninety percent of it is repression, repression, repression.
Yoav is a senior in LAS.