The Existential Angst of Everyday Change
Existential angst presents itself in many forms. Have you ever experienced or learnt that a major change an individual experiences as positive and enhancing may be seen as negative, insignificant or trivial by others? For example, I recently learnt that a colleague was getting married. Eager to tell her close friends, she found certain of their responses unusual and upsetting. One friend immediately challenged her with cynical remarks about her choice of lifestyle and seeming denial of her independence – without even asking the to-be bride how she felt about her life choices. Why would a close friend seemingly fail to support her friend and want the best for her?
What if the bride to be’s choices were not, in themself, being resisted by the friend? What if the friend’s reactions had more to do with them facing the reality of change with all its losses? For example, the bride to be is changing her life which, in turn affects the friend’s world. Formerly she may have seen them as single women sharing similar experiences and venturing out together. This is now changing and with it comes an ending, indicating that all things are temporary – not just events or experiences – but the elements that make up our individual and collectively perceived worlds.
Reactions to change are existential in nature. Even those who change all the time find ‘staying the same’ challenging – since the latter is a change to their perceived and created worldview that change is constant. By embracing the existential angst inherent in everyday change, we have the potential to live more mindfully and engage with others in more intimate ways, knowing that we are each co-created through our interwoven experiences.