Personal Experience and Conviction: Journal Entry

Personal Experience and Conviction: Journal Entry

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     “Why am I here?” “What is the meaning of life?” “Who am I?” These are
all common questions for one to occasionally ponder throughout his or her
lifetime. Some people, however, are plagued by those questions, constantly
interrogating their life, and its purpose.
I, happen to be one of the people who are chronically bedeviled by
questions. I want to know what my purpose on this earth is, and why I’m really
here. More than that though, I want to know who I am. (insert your name here) isn’t
who I am; it’s a name. That’s why the writing of French Philosopher Jean-Paul
Sartre intrigued me as much as it did. Sartre claims that there are not set
standards for self-identity, either for individuals or people in general. Sartre
argues that there is no such thing as "human nature." He also says that what we
are, and what it means to be a human being, are only matters of decision. There
is no correct choice, only choices in which to choose from (Solomon, 1993). I like
the idea of being able to decide who I am. To me, humanity’s primary
distinction, is the freedom to choose. I don’t believe that human beings have a

fixed nature, or essence, as some other animals and plants do. Each human

being makes choices that create his or her own nature.

Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard held that it is spiritually crucial to

recognize that people experience not only a fear of specific objects, but also a

feeling of general apprehension, which he called dread. He interpreted it as

God's way of calling each individual to make a commitment to a personally valid

way of life. The word anxiety has a similarly crucial role in the work of the 20th-

century German philosopher Martin Heidegger; “Anxiety leads to the individual's
confrontation with nothingness and with the impossibility of finding ultimate
justification for the choices he or she must make.” After first reading this
statement by Heidegger, I was slightly confused. But upon finding a definition for
anxiety, different than what I had been thinking, I firmly agreed. Apprehensive,
and painful uneasiness over an anticipated event leaves a person with nothing
ahead of them, nothing to justify their choices.
It is my theory, that human beings exist to learn about themselves, and
their own nature. I believe that every person controls their destiny, and their fate

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is determined by the choices we, as individuals make. Kierkegaard reacted
against 19th Century tradition by insisting that the highest good for the individual
is to find his, or her, own unique vocation. As he wrote in his journal, “I must
find a truth that is true for me . . . the idea for which I can live or die.” To me,
personal experience and acting on one's own convictions are essential in arriving
at the truth about who one is. I don’t think that anything is more important than
knowing that.
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