What’s the point of life?

By Victoria Fryer 

Existential woe. I’m not sure if this is a term anyone else has ever used, or if it’s just something I made up in a moment of feeling sorry for myself. But, to me, it’s the distressed feeling I often get when I think about humanity and our place in the world. (Sorry to come at you with some pessimistic philosophical stuff today, but bear with me.)

The majority of my waking hours is spent dedicated to my work—whether I’m in the office, spending time thinking about or working from home, or driving to and from. While the “industry” I’m in (education) is incredibly important to the world, and something I believe in, I don’t feel as if my specific role in that industry is particularly impactful.

I don’t work as an educator. I don’t even have any administrative function over educators, programs, et cetera. I work in marketing. And is marketing necessary to the world? If my entire department decided one day to stop showing up to work, would the system fall apart? So, what’s the point?

I think a lot about how work is one of the most important things in my life. I want to be successful, and I want to do a good job (as I’m sure most of us do). But I definitely have the thought a lot: what’s the point?

One advantage, I think, that people with children have is that they can feel as if, by raising children, they’re contributing to something bigger than themselves. They’re, in some small way, having a certain impact on the future.

So I wonder if they experience the same existential woe that I do. I wonder, if I had children, would I be able to see my work as just something I have to do for a paycheck, so that I can go home and do the real work of my life: doing my part to raise a member of the future generation.

I don’t really think of parenting the sustaining of humanity in that way, but, of course, I’m not a parent. And it doesn’t make me want children—I’m perfectly content dealing with my existential woe in other ways—but it still makes me wonder.

I’ve written before, and thought a lot about, the pressures that many of us childless and childfree people feel to do “something bigger.” To use our free time to “give back” in a bigger way. To make something that might outlast ourselves, the way children often outlast their parents. So I guess I wonder if some of that stems from a feeling of what I call “existential woe” that sometimes makes me wonder, “What’s the point?”

Victoria Fryer is a writer and content strategist. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two pit bulls. You can find her on Twitter @extoria.


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