Existential Angst

I’ll tell you what: never be flip about your existential crisis on social media. You will get no sympathy whatsoever, and all you will get are comments exhorting you to change your haircut or get a tattoo.

I guess people don’t look for or expect subtlety on That Certain Social Media Site. I mean, for heaven’s sake, even if you’re joking about your existential angst, you’re still feeling it. And, well, angst, you know. It’s not a very fun feeling to have. Masking pain with flippancy is evidently way too subtle for the world of facebook.  As I have discovered to my cost.

Fortunately for me, I’ve got this lovely little blog here, where I can wax queenishly dramatic about existential angst. For me, angst is a state of being where you are seriously questioning every decision you’ve ever made (“Should I have gone to school for a second graduate degree? Why didn’t I make my own career more of a priority when I was first starting out?”), you are feeling slightly unsettled and unhappy in your current state and are not really sure what you want to do about it, and you are wondering, with trepidation, what the future holds, and what decisions you might or might not make to get you to a happier spot. Added to this is the fear that any changes you make might inadvertently lead you to an even less happy spot than where you are now. Angst, I’m telling you. Angst.

Maybe this is merely a mid-life crisis. Well, whatever. That term doesn’t even come near to reaching the level of internal drama that is boiling away while I am trying to figure out my path forward, while functioning on the surface as a nice level-headed adult. I will be a drama queen and refer to my emotional state as existential angst. And this is my blog, and I can be a drama queen if I want. There.

And darn it, we just don’t live in an era where I can ship aboard the Pequod and spend the next part of my life on a fiendish search for a great white whale. Ishmael was very fortunate in that respect. I imagine you stop contemplating the ills of the universe while you’re busy dodging harpoons and hanging on to the mast by your fingertips.

Oh, look, now I’m being flippant about existential angst AND about Moby Dick. But you all know that I’m only laughing on the outside right now, and you will be kinder to me than those shallow souls on facebook.

Won’t you?

Love you & leave you,

Hobbie DeHoy

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4 comments

  1. I reinvented myself by quitting the practice of law and moving to the most remote corner of Vermont to be a waitress when I was 41. Then I slowly transitioned back into law a few years later. Then I quit the law again and worked in a grocery store. Then I did a quasi-legal job for the feds, and was disabled out with angst’s big brother, clinical and intractable depression.I am a strong supporter in changing jobs in midstream. I would have been disabled out at a much younger age if I had not taken vacations from serious work. Do what you have to do, go where you want to go, and hell take the hindmost!

  2. I suffered most of my existential angst in my teens and twenties. However I did change career completely in my late forties (sculptor to research scientist) and it has been great fun and very rewarding. It is never too late and believe me, the brain responds very well to a whole new field of learning, whatever the age.

    1. So nice to hear from you, Hilary! I’m in my early forties, and my existential angst is all about having stayed home to bring up children for eleven years and feeling like my field has left me far behind… yet I’m still just as smart and motivated as I was when I was still working, I swear it! It’s tough to second-guess career choices at any point in your life, I imagine. I’m feeling a little more optimistic and less angst-y than I was when I first wrote this. And blogging counts as a whole new field of learning, too. Don’t you think?

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