This week, I’m going over a personal story about reflecting on my life and pursuing greatness.
Is this it?
Depression takes many forms and affects individuals in different ways. I’ve struggled with depression for years, experiencing ups and downs, backs and forths, and this roller coaster has been a trying and challenging ride. Whenever I’ve hit my figurative rock bottom, I’ve been unable to engage with the world while feeling numb and worthless.
While in this wretched mood, a question comes to me: “Is this it?”
My depression has never struck me when I’ve worked tirelessly to pursue a goal. It has never come when I invest energy in building a skill. My depression and the titular question only arrive in my mind when I linger, when I’m lazy, when I’m ungrateful, and when I’m indulgent.
I’m no expert on depression. I don’t know it’s inner-workings, but I recognize everyone has demons and battles to fight. For me, I always feel my lowest when I refuse to be my best. When I settle into my bad habits or give into that which is worst in me, I can’t help but ask myself “Is this it?”
“Will I always be a slave to my vices?” “Will I always fail to help people when I know I can?” “Will I always have financial troubles?” “Will I always waste my time watching videos instead of learning?” “Is this it?”
Is life nothing more than indulgence, distraction, and vice? Or is it something else?
Convenience and Pleasure
I created Become an Individual for many reasons. For one, I believe people need help to fight their petty natures so they can focus on pursuing more significant goals that are difficult to accomplish. When we give in to distractions, we feel a brief high, followed by shame and regret. To pursue more significant objectives, we have to develop our willpower while rejecting things that come easily.
Life is about struggle. Without struggle, there can be no progress. When we pursue that which is most comfortable, we will always fall into depression because we know that our existence has a more worthwhile, difficult yet more rewarding purpose.
There will always be more comfortable paths before us. It’s easier to have no control over one’s emotions or to use people for our petty, selfish aims. It requires no higher thinking or great effort to follow the group or to accept the abuses and poor behaviors of others. When we pursue the simple path, we can’t help but ask “is this it?” as we skip the gym one more time to eat fatty foods or watch one more cat video instead of building skill.
Personal Goals and Values
People barely know what they want for their own lives. Very few people reflect on their life goals, long-term goals, and daily tasks. They simply wake up, go to work, come home, waste time, then sleep. This course is a repeated cycle until they’re old and wondering where their life went.
I believe people are anxious, lost, and depressed because we have no connection to ourselves and what we want. Sure, we have a connection to our personal vices and the petty, selfish culture we live in. But we have no regard for our virtues, our values, and our passions.
A deep commitment to our vices will always lower the importance of our lives in our own eyes. We become depressed because we understand that we can do more, but for convenience, we give into that which is beneath us.
Without a firm understanding of what we value and treasure, individuals will easily waste their lives pursuing dead-end goals. We’ll earn a promotion at a job we hate instead of building new skills. Or, we’ll buy junk we’ll never use instead of saving money in the bank.
When we invest time in pursuing what doesn’t elevate us to greatness we can’t help but ask “is this it?”
Identity and Society
Furthermore, people have a firm political identity based on what their culture expects of them. People easily follow their roles and embrace the cliches they are told to value, but they have no deeper understanding of their own wants and needs. Everyone is eager to be judged by their race, class, religion, gender, sexuality, and so on but never by what they accomplish as individuals.
People have a firm political identity, but they have no idea what they want to do with their lives. We are easily manipulated to follow any cultural plan, but we fail to control even our smallest urges. With an immense focus towards society and a small sense of ourselves, many people are depressed and aimless. And I have to ask them, “is this it?”
Is being seen as black all you want in life? Is being seen as a woman all that there is to accomplish? To be seen as a simply a man and to be defined by all the baggage that entails? Is this all you’re striving for?
Is all life about appeasing the political elites? Is life simply about checking a gender, race, or sexuality box and spending one’s life harping on about it?
Or is life about getting lost in helping “the greater good” while failing to prevent even your closest friend from slipping into depression?
There’s More to Life
I’ve been depressed most of my life because I honestly believed the answers to happiness and peace lie in things outside of my control. I’ve been told every day that responding to my personal wants, needs, and values are evil and selfish and terrible and yada yada.
I understand that if I remain externally focused, I’ll always beg myself, “Is this it? Shall I lose myself in the pointless swamps of ‘what ifs’?”
- When was the last time you felt depressed? Why do you think you felt this way? What did you do to get out of this feeling?
- What questions or voices do you hear when you’re depressed? What narratives do you create when you feel low?
- Track the times when you feel your weakest and analyze what actions you are doing before and after you feel low.
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.