The Meaning of Life

by Jay Joseph

Spoiler Alert: I don’t believe there is one. (Sorry to return to this topic for those who took AP Lit and had this fun conversation about existentialism.) I grew up with conflicting views on religious beliefs (yes, religious beliefs; it wasn’t just different overall religions), so I was no stranger as a kid to contemplating how life came to be, what happens when it ends, and, y’know, the whole point of it. In the end, I concluded that the meaning of life was yours to decide for yourself and that my purpose was to help others lead more happy and fulfilled lives. The key word here is “others.” A lot of times, I would forget about someone, namely myself.

There’s a whole list of reasons why I kept leaving myself out of the equation, but that’s a conversation that will exceed my word count and also a conversation I don’t want to have. When it came down to it, I simply did not see the value of investing in my happiness most times and thought my efforts were better placed elsewhere. I had also developed some pretty nasty people-pleasing tendencies with a touch of perfectionism on the side, so this attitude accidentally worsened that mess.

By the time I reached high school, I realized my approach to life was not sustainable due to the (putting it lightly here) issues it created. I began to do everything I could to reverse these tendencies. And to an extent, I succeeded. I asked myself what I wanted from my life, and as long as I wasn’t doing anything horrible, I would do just that. However, I did do things I was horrible at because I loved them. I recently celebrated finally not getting last in a competition and was unironically overjoyed. I learned to accept myself and formed some of the most meaningful connections I’ve had with others, as a result. Who knew that having a wall blocking your entire personality could affect your relationships. Not me, apparently. I even began to feel content with life.

These past four years have been difficult and draining. I think that’s just how high school is for everyone. (If I’m wrong, please do not tell me, but congrats on that.) However, I would not give up this journey for anything.

My words of questionable wisdom as someone who is not even 18 yet is that, right now, you have this one life, and for better or worse, you are stuck with yourself for the entirety of it. You are going to make people upset, you are going to fail a lot, and that’s just how it is. That said, try to have a bit of fun with it. After all, the meaning of life is yours to decide.