In times of fatigue and stress, my mind gets messed up: my adrenals get fried, my hormones are all over the place, I lose the cognitive ability to regulate my thoughts and emotions. I used to blame it on my personality, thankfully due to modern research on neuroscience, I now understand how little conscious control we actually have over ourselves.
During these times it is really important for me to examine my motivations for life itself. I need something to hold on to, because unlike most other people, I don’t find living for the sake of living compelling. This doesn’t change regardless of my mood or state. I question my existence by default, being stressed out just exacerbates it.
In recent years, I have found some meaning in my realization that I have the agency to live however I want to – that the meaning of life to me is that we, as conscious beings, are free to determine our own meanings. If you think the meaning of your life is to procreate or to save the world, no one can argue with that. It is your meaning, only you can decide for yourself what it should be.
This was very liberating and empowering to me when I first had the epiphany. I sought meaning in the faith that I could be an agent for the greater good. My life didn’t seem to be valuable to me on its own, and I wanted it to mean something, that meant finding a cause I could firmly believe in. If I could give myself to the world, that must at least mean something, wouldn’t it?
But it wasn’t enough. Or it was too much, depending on which perspective. I tried to give so much of myself that during times when I had nothing left but an empty shell, I have found it really difficult to believe that I should carry on. I relied too much on external factors and motivation to keep me going.
Intrinsic motivation is what will keep people going when there is nothing left externally. How do I, build that intrinsic motivation when I have no will to live for myself?
Sometimes I cannot help but think, perhaps willfully or irrationally that it doesn’t fucking matter if I cease to exist. These are dark times when I just need to hold on so desperately to convince myself otherwise. I want to have intrinsic reasons to live, but it feels hollow when I have such a flawed perception of myself.
However, once in a while someone tells me I have made a difference to their lives, and although it feels almost narcissistic to me, it does make me re-think my own assumptions about my existence. Maybe I am somewhat useful after all.
In the end, I have to hinge my existence on my family – I have no heart to break their hearts and I can only hope that I will always be conscious enough to remember that, that no amount of darkness or pain will overwhelm my desire to not inflict pain on other people; I also need periodic reinforcement from people close to me, that even if I didn’t value my own existence, they can somehow leverage some use out of me, that I may have brought some comfort or joy to their lives by just being present.
It is extremely difficult, especially during times when I find myself tiring and a pain to live with. It feels very exhausting to cope with my emotions and sensitivity at times. I feel incredibly fragile and unable to withstand shocks, I feel like the world is too harsh for people like me (don’t even want to start on how unjust it is for a whole lot of people) and it makes me not want to be here.
If there is any intrinsic motivation at all, I can only hope that I live well and long enough to make this world slightly better to live in for people like me. It is still somewhat extrinsic I guess, needing a potential outcome to have some vested interest in this world.
Just by merely existing, I hope that others will find the courage to exist too. At least that is the story I try to tell myself, in order to keep on living.
Thank you to those of you who have made the effort to tell me that I mean something to you. It may seem trivial, but you have no idea how much it means to someone like me, who needs very single bit of reason to live.
P.S. yes, I have survivors’ guilt. Knowing that I am incredibly blessed and privileged does not make me feel better, in fact it makes me feel worse.