The most daunting question of all

07 Dec 2023

Life can get quite complicated - and sometimes, you need help from the world's greatest philosophers to figure it out. In her blog, Jara Majerus looks at life through the philosophical monocle, employing the help of some of history's brightest thinkers. This week, Jara is asking questions about the meaning of life – and discovers how not having a clear-cut answer to it might just be the right approach.

We will have to end this year with a big question. Something has been bugging me these last two and a half years of my studies – something that I didn’t dare to ask myself because I didn’t have the answers. But now, I do. Kind of. And this is why I am finally ready to pose the most daunting of all questions: what is the meaning of my life?

Throughout the years, I have been dealing with the occasional existential crisis here and there. Some may say that this is what you get for studying philosophy. But I honestly think that everyone – philosophy student or not – will, at some point in their lives, doubt the meaning of their existence.

We want our lives to have a purpose, to make sense. I want to feel like there is meaning in me getting up in the morning, to doing all the things I am doing. I want to feel like I am on the right track. But how could my life be meaningful when I spend most of my time writing essays about questions I cannot answer? Sounds quite purposeless, doesn’t it?

‘We must make our own choices and find our own answers along the way’

You know what Jean-Paul Sartre, the father of existentialism, would say to this? Yes, but no. According to Sartre, humans are thrown into the world without a fixed purpose. So, human life does not have a meaning in itself. I admit, so far existentialism sounds more daunting than helpful. But, seeing that our lives do not have an inherent meaning, Sartre argues that it is up to us to create meaning through our actions and our choices. We have to create our own purpose. Thus, there is no path one must follow or rule one must stick to, to have a meaningful life. Instead, we must make our own choices and find our own answers along the way.

When I signed up for my studies, I loved the idea of writing essays about questions I cannot answer – and to be honest, I still love it. I chose to study philosophy for a reason. And even though my choice may not offer me a clear future perspective, it is meaningful. Simply because as long as I am true to myself and make my decisions based on what I truly want and feel, my life will have a purpose no matter what I do. And I think that is a pretty neat answer for one of the most daunting questions there is.

Read Jara Majerus's blogs here

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