A few years ago, I experienced what I like to call an existential crisis. A year prior I had finished high school and moved to Milan, where I spent my time working every weekday; in the morning at one restaurant, in the evening at another, taking courses online to increase my average, and studying Pilates on the weekends for eight hours straight. This took up most of my time which disallowed me to analyze my internal dissonances. Upon my return to Canada, I began my first year of University. Importantly, I was staying at my boyfriend’s parents house while my parents lived in their respected countries.
An existential crisis refers to the moment where an individual ponders their meaning, purpose or value; in fact, the philosophy of existentialism emphasizes the importance of standing by your own identity. An existential vacuum is when one loses all hope, with no desire to have meaning, purpose or value, the individual is completely lost. Being in Canada, away from my parents, embarking on not one, but two journeys of life (academia and partnership), I became very nervous. I felt as though my life until then had been set up for me in steps, each level above was anticipated of the level below. For example, being in grade 11 meant a set of foundations needed for grade 12, subjects of which were expected when approaching the next step. All of a sudden I was not walking up stairs, nor was I following a path; I felt like I opened a door and the rest of the way was an open field. Anxious, looking for signs of direction, we’re told “run”. In which direction? The answer is any. But there’s a due date, namely your death, so whatever you do run, but know why you’re running. See 10 feet, no 15 feet ahead of you to ensure no mistakes are made, careful of quick sand, poisonous weeds, and stinging insects.
Everyone has to go through a field of life, yes, but recently I have been feeling as though the fast-paced changes in technology, are creating a greater knowledge gap between this generation and our parents. When I was a child, listening to stories of my parents, their friends, and older family members, I depicted a future I wanted to live. Modeled after my mother, I believed the perfect time to have children would be between 20-25 years old, marriage at 21, with the belief that a house would have already been owned. These beliefs at the time were not misguided, but I feel now, being 21, that those dreams were delusions, leaving me with the responsibility of recreating a new future based on no concrete evidence that it’s worked before! My mother, on the other hand, was able to reflect her life decisions with those of her mother, because although still different, were still slightly more similar than the gap that exists between her and I. My grandmother also got married in her 20s, married with four children by the age of 35. I still feel like a baby who barely knows how to file for her own taxes, financially and emotionally unstable.
I blame a lot of it on the competition for education, which I think only goes back to the increasing changes in technology. School is becoming competitive even at the primary level, forcing children to study against each other, rather than attain life experiences. Our parents did not have the same treatment, in fact in that day and age, children were held to some degree responsible and patriotic towards their family, forcing them to comply to chores and family businesses rather than watching tv or posting pictures onto Instagram. Businesses were run differently, they depended on attendance at the job, not on social buzz, or advertisement skills. The switch has forced kids to study at a degree that is un-childlike, causing a loss of individuality that would have been gained through activities of the soul and the mind. This addiction to increasing intelligence on the basis of competing for university admission or employment, has increased the prioritization of going to school for longer periods of time (e.g., masters, PhD), urging schools to increase the level of difficulty to achieving this goal, forcing individuals to focus solely on university, losing out on building their business resume, then coming out at 30 years old and having to start again at the bottom of the food chain.
You’re trying to live to certain expectations, meanwhile assuring your own success in this modern world. The real-estate prices are super high, making it almost impossible to make any purchases. Even renting in Toronto is insane, with unlivable studio apartments of 350sq ft. costing a minimum of $1500 to rent. Dependency on your parents is a must, both financially and emotionally. The experiences that we are having are not the ones our parents had at our age. Clubs today are an extension of high school dances, limited to getting piss drunk, trying to maintain decency by avoiding sexual encounters. Women spending more money on their lips and breasts to look presentable during these events, living on their parent’s wages, their money going down the drain for a self-interest rather than perpetuation. As a server even in Canada I met many that were working a career, as well as serving, married, children, but living at home at 30 years old. A trend now that is too often seen, makes you wonder where our world is going to end up.
The truth is that ages are also increasing, and thus this funk we find ourselves in might only be temporary, as the ages adjust to represent their objective value, there might be a fix to the mess. Until that day comes, I feel like a lost girl searching for the right path, tortured by the dilemma of making the right choice. In this field I run through, too vast and overwhelming, a change in the hierarchical system I was recently pulled out of, makes me question my purpose and meaning. No way of looking at my predecessors for help, for they had run through different fields. No signs within the tall grass give indications of a hidden path, to each their own. So, instead of looking for one, I try to make one.