According to Wikipedia, Søren Kierkegaard is generally considered to have been the first existentialist philosopher. He proposed that each individual, not society or religion, is solely responsible for giving meaning to life and living it passionately and sincerely (authentically).
You and only you are solely responsible for giving meaning to your life. There is a lot of truth in that statement. If we are always looking for something externally to give our lives meaning and not finding it, maybe we need to look inward.
This week I edited a chapter in my manuscript about my son having an existential dilemma. He had been in a residential treatment facility for a year and didn't feel like he was making progress. What I love most about writing this memoir is going through all of my sons journals and medical notes, with his permission of course. He always wrote down what was going on in his head and it has given me incite into how his mind works. A parent couldn't ask for a better tool to help there child in need.
Matthew was having an existential dilemma. What he wanted would lead to eventual death, while those who cared for him wanted him alive. Matthew questioned the very foundations of his life; whether his life contained meaning, purpose, or value.
“Philosophizing the meaning of life. I discovered the meaning of my life. It is to enjoy this life as much as I can. Death will come naturally when it will be my time to go, yet I still contemplate suicide over and over. Death is so intriguing to me. I am curious as to what will happen next. Will the next life be better or worse? I’m not sure what I believe. I don’t want this to be the only life. Death is sort of a completion of life. I’m anxious about starting my ‘complete’ life. I want to make a decision. I would feel bad leaving my family and friends behind. Although my brain tells me they aren’t real, my heart can connect with them. I love them dearly, and I miss them. I want to choose life, but death keeps pulling me back under and suffocating me.”--Matthew’s journals
I discovered that when my son talked about death with his counselor, and wrote about death it meant he was working through it, not just thinking about killing himself. It is always scary to hear and read that your child is thinking about dying, the time when every parent needs to be scared most is if their child isn't talking to anyone.
"Existentialism is the search and journey for true self and true personal meaning in life."
Look inward for the true, personal meaning in your life.