Essay Example About Existential Crisis



To quote Walt Whitman, “O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” In a year that provided us an abundance of time to question our existence, our finite time spent on this earth, our purpose that we are destined to live, it is imperative that we first answer the questions that only we long to know the answers to. At the first of many crossroads of our lives, high school, society forces us to contemplate the course of our futures. Personally, this year has made me look to answer the questions of my future, to choose which fork in the road I will travel. This virus has forced an almost existential crisis of my being to resurface. Do I pursue a career as a surgeon, with the constant pressure to excel under unimaginable time and knowledge constraints that not many want to fathom? Or do I pursue a career as a politician, not the crooked, conniving public servant which has seemingly become the normality, but rather as someone who works to benefit only his constituents and change the connotation of what allows our country’s democracy to thrive?

In a field dictated by the illusion of a grandiose lifestyle - six-figure salaries, five story mansions with pools and inside cinemas, sports cars that reach 180 mph, and the money to ensure a secure future - lies numerous professions that allow individuals to think critically, put their book knowledge to the test on a daily basis, and earn the highest distinction in their field: M.D. The forty-eight hour shifts accompanied by extreme exhaustion, severe hunger, and a desire to collapse right then and there. The deep-cavity illuminating lights, the piercing cold touch of the scalpel for the first time, an unconscious, living person on the table at the height of your waist; their life depends on your years of study. As physicians, you take an oath to “...tell the antecedents, know the present, and foretell the future — mediate these things, and have two special objects in view with regard to disease, namely, to do good or to do no harm.” This oath is to physicians as the Constitution is to the Founding Fathers. A value held at the very core of their beings. 2020 has only illuminated the need for more men and women alike to join into a community that requires individuals to contemplate whether or not they can dedicate themselves to this profession that dates back many centuries. To fulfill their oath and duty to their patients that need them. How can I turn down an opportunity that allows me to use my knowledge, what I believe in, to benefit the welfare of those around me? There lies the issue at the core of this “existential crisis”. In a time where I have mulled over what my abilities are best suited for, I have witnessed the need for strong physicians to enter into this field. It boils down to what the reverend Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others.”

Why is it that I feel compelled to put my pen to paper and write what my thoughts have been over the past nine months in quarantine? Not because I feel the urge to expose every minute detail of my analytical processes of this world to society, but because society demands us to. Society’s expectations dictate the way that many live their lives. Society’s expectations dictate the way that people make day-to-day decisions. Society’s expectations even have the gall to dictate the way that we perceive our government. That’s just the thing though, who really controls what society dictates? Not wealthy businessmen or average citizens, but our Senators, our Representatives, and all of our other elected officials. If 2020 has allowed me one thing, it was the time to catch up on the political mishaps of our nation. To see how our leaders make decisions, make laws, and govern our democracy. After all, according to American comedian George Carlin, “Governments don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. That is against their interests. They want obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork, and just dumb enough to passively accept it.” 2020 has allowed me to understand the truth in his words. The truth is that our government does not want opposition to their plans. As American citizens, we have the duty to protect and serve our country, just without the power trip of politics. We need to take this time of reflection during Coronavirus to think critically about the future of our country and what values we hold sacred at the center of it. I have a calling within me, to debate elected officials on the merits of what our country stands for. To fight for the average man and woman, mother and father, sister and brother, doctor or lawyer, and every other American who needs a voice to represent them. With this crisis that society has brought upon me, breathing down my neck, they force me to contemplate what values I hold sacred at the center of my being. 

These two professions at the core of my dilemma, were the focal points in terms of news this past year. The divisiveness of politics, where one side wants to refute science and medicine, and the other side wants to make change. Then you examine medicine and all its glory, yet pain and agony over these past months in quarantine. Both fields share the common characteristic of wanting to make real change in society. However, when I make a career choice, it is one that I will dedicate my life to benefitting. And so it comes down to the fundamental differences in the two fields. The political landscape warrants being in the spotlight 24/7, constantly being attacked from one side or another, and having the pressure of understanding that the ideals of democracy that this country prides itself upon lay in the balance of your hands. Conversely, medicine calls on its partakers to question each other’s judgement and escape the inevitable failure, all the while knowing that innocent lives depend on you. 2020 has forced me to calculate the benefits and the risks, and I need to find the answer to this demanding societal question, what will you do with your future?

“Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?” An answer from John Keating in “Dead Poet’s Society” to the questions that Whitman proposes in “O Me! O Life”. I echo what Keating explains to his students; I say that it is acceptable that I do not know, that I do not comply with society’s demanding expectations. Despite the months of physical and mental suffering that has plagued our lives, individuals have found time to contemplate those questions which only they can answer. To reflect on what we have and what we want. Who we choose to surround ourselves with and who we do not. What future we want to shape for ourselves and those around us, and what obstacles stand in our way. For me, I have answered the question that I long to know. What will my purpose be in the future? Answer. It will be to help others, whether it be as their representative or whether it be their lives hanging in the balance on my operating table.