Finding The Leader Within

Enrolling in this course of Leading Social Change, I have been provided many opportunities to explore concepts which helped me realize the process of social change on both a micro and macro level. Now that it is the end of the term, I have been able to delve deeply into each framework of thought which I consider to be valuable in my perspective towards my role in social change. In comparison to the version of myself at the beginning of this term, I believe that I have gained exponentially. In your – the reader’s – exploration of this essay, I will define: my personal definition of leadership, the leadership styles and leader attributes that I hope to cultivate in my own life, my mission towards social change, both my internal and external drivers towards social change, the fields in which I intend to operate and conduct myself in, as well as my perspective on the quality of relationship between myself and my audience.

When I first entered this course for Leading Social Change, I found that my favorite definition of leadership was the most simple of all: ““the action of leading a group of people or an organization.” But now, after much thought of how leadership affects me and my own belief system, I have decided to take the challenge in making my own definition for leadership. I have come up with the following:“Leadership is composed of its captain and their crew: leader and followers. Leaders emerge through their self-actualized response to a need for change in their community. Through industrious means, leaders compel others towards the driving force of their visions. This is when the process of leadership begins, and when the quality of such leadership is tested. Over time, the leader traverses across venue to venue, sea to sea. The quality of a leader is directly proportional to the level of change their vision has on a given community, as well as the emotional impact the leader has on each follower gained. Great leaders inspire others to become great leaders, or at the very least, they inspire others to become great followers with higher drive and purpose than they possessed prior to their followship. Through integrity of purpose and passionate action, effective leaders continue to inspire their audience and followers even after their deaths, despite not being able to physically make any more efforts towards social change. With great leadership comes timeless and priceless meaning for humanity as a whole.”

In order to become the greatest leader, ideally, I hope to eventually lead under the style of laissez-faire. I believe that teams work best and become most fruitful when each member is internally motivated to reach infinite and beyond for themselves, and therefore, the vision of the organization. I believe that a team operating under the values of laissez-faire is able to produce the best quality and quantity of fruit, as each member is working towards the optimal improvement for themselves – and then the optimal improvement for the team and their collective vision. Though, leading under laissez-faire is tricky, as it depends on the liberation of each member in order for it to work best.

In my current band situation, I find that my teammates are not entirely sure of their roles just yet. So I recognize that, as a team, we benefit more when I incorporate a participative style of leadership when interacting with them. This is because I understand that it is hard for one to be sure of what they should do if their interpretation of the group’s vision is still in its infancy stage. Plus, it does not help if the interpersonal relationships between members have not developed the foundation of mutual trust and support – which is crucial to a fluid and productive creation process. So, I show consideration to their thoughts because I want to express the value and respect that I have towards each of my bandmates and their thoughts. I do not value autocratic leadership (where the leader has complete authority in regards to team decision making) or transactional leadership with much merit, as I believe it takes more than external means or results (such as payment or materialistic reward) to fully empower and liberate an individual when discovering their true potential. In fact, I believe there is less to be had when a leader does not listen to their followers, or when leaders only hope to inspire through physical reward. I believe that through patience, compassion, and positive support, a leader is able to unlock the hidden potential of all of their followers in what seems like no time. As far as the attributes in which I strive to cultivate throughout my life and opportunities for leadership, there are many. These representative attributes and traits fall under the themes of integrity, inspiration, and personal passion.

I would like to work on and improve my level of integrity, so that my actions truly reflect my belief systems. This means that I wish to be more disciplined, patient, accountable, and authentic in all of the facets of my own life. I understand that I have many obstacles towards complete embodiment of the values which I wish to represent, so I recognize and embrace the notion that it all starts with me having more integrity in a moment-to-moment basis.

I believe that to be a good leader, one has to be able to inspire with ease. I believe it is important for any good leader to be patient and mindful when it comes to communicating with those listening. This means that I must endure high levels focus and self-confidence when extracting the thoughts from my internal dialogue to the outside world. The challenges of this endurance varies depending on the situation at hand, so being able to understand when the best time to speak and share my ideas is an important element to inspiring others. As I work on the integrity of my own actions, I believe that I will be able to improve on my inspirational quirks through time.

Lastly, I believe a great leader is a passionate leader – no exceptions. Passionate leaders have a vision and understand the meaning, or the “why”, behind their vision over any other question posed. It is the passionate leader who is the most transparent, as their followers experience their leader’s vision and emotional fire first-hand. Passionate leaders are innovative and stoic. They make a lot of risks and decisions which are all susceptible to failure, but the passionate leader acknowledges the possibility of failure and is prepared to learn from any experience and opportunity of growth presented to them. The passionate leader is one of high perseverance and grit. Passionate leaders love to make choices outside of their comfort zone so they are better able to understand the reality of potential around them. As such, passionate leaders are driven by both the known and unknowns in their lives, embracing the balance of order and chaos which emerge in their own realities on a daily basis. Even more so, passionate leaders exhibit much more humility than the average leader or boss. This is because they are secure in their vision and trust that their circumstantial decisions add up to a higher lesson in all realms of growth and learning. Passionate leaders – in the most simplest of words – are not afraid to follow their beliefs, to look stupid, or to make mistakes. They realize that all of these variables of vulnerability are crucial to the progression and success in realizing the visions of their overarching narratives. A passionate leader is hungry for growth and embraces the experience in appearing foolish. Passionate leaders know what they want, why they want it, and understand how their actions and words can play a substantial role in the fruition of their dreams. Passionate leaders learn for the sake of learning. Their decisions are made for the sake of themselves, so that they are better able to communicate their beliefs to their followers in the most authentic and positive manner idiosyncratic to them.

In deep consideration of my own potential – in becoming what I believe is a great leader – I realize that my deepest intention for social change is to lead those looking towards the discovery of their own equipment. I want to provide like-minded explorers with lifelong tools so that they are better able to grow independently. I want to help individuals become more grounded in their personal beliefs and more adamant towards the conduct of their behaviors so that they can better contribute to the positive growth on communities in which they hope to inspire. I want to help my followers acknowledge the benefits of trial and error, and to show them that patience and hard work can go a long way compared to the lack thereof. I want to empower the lost and hopeless, using compassion and my own subjective truths as my north star.

There are too many people on this earth who have not delved enough into their own self-exploration, and they suffer more than they ought to because of it. From young to old, black to white, computer programmers to janitors, all people are affected by the overarching conflicts of order and chaos at play in their day-to-day lives. Most – if not all – of humanity struggle with finding enlightenment: the transcendence above suffering. My quest for social change is one of transformation: the liberation of humankind through means of self-understanding and growth. I want to lead those as lost in this world as I am with the proper equipment in which – I believe – has the most significant and valuable potential for positive personal growth within themselves, our society, our species, and then our ecosystem and planet as a whole. In order to do that, I believe that the most important step for any leader or follower to make is the exploration of themselves. Like the Greek aphorism in which great existentialist Søren Kierkegaard once alludes to, “One must know oneself before knowing anything else.”

Internally, I have gone through my fair share of suffering and feelings of failure. Those experiences, coupled with my want for positive change with those around me and the world as a whole, act as the foundational grounding to my overall intentions in life. I want to spread joy and I want to remind people that life is hard, but you can approach it with a healthy mindset for upwards growth. Simon Sinek, one of the speakers in which we learned about in our d2l course lessons, says that the greatest players are those of the infinite. Finite players base their progress on a hierarchical domain, where they exhibit behaviors and actions that are influenced by those around them. In psychology, they call this an external locus of control. I want have and train my internal locus of control. I want to be a player for infinite, where everything I do is for the growth of myself, so that I am better able to help those around me.

Throughout my experiences with myself and others who are arbitrarily thrown into this world of existence, music and psychology have helped me realize and expand on the tools which encourage my own personal growth. Music and psychology are the fields in which I possess the most strength. As I continue on this path towards internal growth, I notice that more and more people are attracted to the things that I have to say and offer. If it is after a performance of one of my songs or works, or just a casual conversation I am having with another person, I personally witness the emotional impact I am able to have on others. Acknowledging that I have even the smallest contribution for emotional impact (which inevitably acts as the catalyst towards physical change) in another person’s life has served as an external driver, and helped me realize and expand the scope of my mission in leading my followers towards positive growth – one heart at a time. In everything that I do, I want to help spark the inner fire inside all of those taking the time out of their day to listen to me. It was not until I realized that I had a potential for social change that I made it a promise to myself to make as many efforts as I can to inspire those around me. I want to show people that everyone has a capacity to make a difference in our world – abundant with opportunities for social change. They simply just have to believe in themselves, like I believe in myself.

I believe that I have the most room for influence in the realms of casual interaction, social science, education, and media. To be more specific, I believe that I can influence others in fields which range from small to large: everyday life, psychology (in terms of research, clinical work, as well as academic teaching), and music (writing and performing). I will lead toward the liberation of humankind, with much respect and care towards the individual needs of the members in our world. I hope to lead my followers and fellow leaders towards the discovery of individual meaning in each of their lives, and to expose them to life strategies which I believe encourage healthy and positive productivity, not only for themselves, but also for the greater good of humanity as a whole. I will lead my students, audience members, and followers towards the path of failure and vulnerability, so that they can become resilient, and so that they can better cultivate their strengths in learning with a mindset for growth, in contrary to the seemingly inescapable feeling of threat which emerges from the situational chaos’ in a person’s life. Through the creation of music, facilitated by my compassionate perspective of gratitude towards life and the inevitable consequences of being – existential suffering – I will empower and comfort listeners in their day-to-day lives. Through the creation of music, my independent clinical work with clients, my interactions with my students, alongside the interactions I have with others on a case by case basis , I hope to provide those listening with a sense of emotional catharsis which will accompany them during their own adventure of self-understanding and life.

Ideally, once I become well-founded on education, research, and reflection, I will be a leader for truth and compassion. I hope to connect with as many as I can, as I would like to see those around me flourish as much as I would like to see myself flourish. And I know that the only way I can do that is by leading, following, and listening to others. By acting as a leader in my respective fields, acting as a follower to others both within and outside of these fields, and acting as an audience to the world, I will be provided an abundance of opportunities towards cultivating my own worldview and the approach in which I believe is ideal and necessary for the most positive change in our society.

I understand that it will be a difficult journey through time in making my difference towards social change, and I am ready to embrace any opportunity and every obstacle which may come my way, so that I am able to learn and cultivate these experiences for the better. It is because I have defined for myself the definition of my ideal leader that I am able to understand what I am seeking in my own life. It is because I have explored my own values and beliefs that I understand how I should behave and think in order to be the best leader I can be. And it is because I have thought deeply about my role and purpose in the fields provided by my internal and external callings that I truly understand why I want to lead social change in the first place. In time, after rigorous planning for my passionate works, I believe I will be able to lead others towards not only the liberation of themselves as an independent person, but also towards the liberation of the world. Over time, I will acquire many tools and equipment which will guide my lead towards social change – all in what seems like no time at all.


Existentialism Final – Argumentative Essay

Life as we know it now is great. We have freedom of opportunity, freedom of speech, freedom of resources in the form of the internet. We have stripped most, if not all, American legislation by its racial biases. The only thing which separates man from achieving the full potential of his power is now himself, as the transcendent being is able to accomplish what others before him had thought impossible, unconstrained by introspective or social dilemma. Despite being a newly liberated society, we still suffer and many people cannot get out of the trouble they find themselves in or thrown into. I think the greatest impact to social change relies not in a reform of systematic approach, but in a micro-level consciousness of existentialist ethics within each member of society.

Throughout time, determining the most efficient ways of organizing society and the liberties of its people has been a series of trial-and-error Across socialism (from Hegelism to Marxism) to fascism, all the way to capitalism, it seems as though everything has been considered and experimented with to an extent. Now, we exist in a capitalistic society, where competition is on the rise and survival is dependent on the production of material means. In other words, a life in a capitalistic society is one of hard work, and success must be achieved alongside the expansion of knowledge through battling failures. In an essence, capitalism is the materialistic interpretation of Darwin’s “survival of the fittest”, which actually demanded the triumph of one life over another in order for evolution to occur.

Growing up in a civil society founded on the principles of the competitive and individualistic free-market, it is hard to imagine living in a society where its values empowered the government, providing them with more control of their people’s money – such as socialism. Despite its prevalence in history, the concept of government-controlled wealth and regulation has not dawned on me until the second half of the second decade of the twenty-first century. Coincidentally – and maybe not so coincidental after all – the emergence of socialism in my daily conversation grew drastically when I moved here to Portland, Oregon.

Though very vague, I was able to attach the concept of socialism to the redistribution of wealth (as well as the others listed, another fresh phrase included to my repertoire), to politicians such as the beloved Bernie Sanders, and even totalitarianism. And by all of this, I was very confused. In my given facticity, I hear cries from both Left and Right – liberals and conservatives – that regard appropriate and proper management of the means of production in a society. It was not until I read Sartre’s account in Existentialism and Marxism, that I was able to better able to connect those dots I have been accumulating throughout my chapter out here in Portland. Out of all of the systems of which I am aware of, I argue that capitalism is the best system for societies to practice.

Marxism, a political theory crafted by Karl Marx, is an attempt to balance the worlds of order and chaos by spreading awareness to man of the duality’s very existence. The goal of Marxism is to It is through the fused-group, a term mentioned in Sartre’s Collectives, that the cultural consciousness migrates into the lives of the collective society. It is with high hope that the purposes of said fused-group – in the case of Marxism, “ …with universalising and totalising schemata” (Sartre) – will remain the dominant knowledge expressed in a given society.  I think this was Sartre’s biggest discrepancy with Marxism. Though, Sartre shared the belief of acknowledging the objective world (order) alongside our subjective accounts (chaos), he had felt the practice of Marxism, overtime, had negative yields of effect. Sartre recognized that inherently, “living Marxism is heuristic; its principles and its prior knowledge appear as regulative in relation to its concrete research” (Sartre). And that sentiment should be good enough for any theorist, but the true practitioner becomes aware of the faults at hand in applied Marxism. Instead of creating a conscious and self-aware society, many of the population become a member of what Sartre labels, “Marxist voluntarism” (Sartre).

If one follows under Marxist voluntarism, they are what Sartre would call a “voluntary ideologue”. This means that, though one exists in a society which, as a whole, holds existentially-regarded belief systems towards individuality and the pursuit for “abstract knowledge”, the individual themselves are behaving purely out of praxis (practice) as opposed to a priori (knowledge).  As I would read his essay, I would become more excited about the potentials of Marxism than I had prior to reading his introduction, but at this moment, I cannot think of a way to prevent people from speaking purely from the perspective of hearsay, as opposed to a mindset for learning and growth. I think the issue is deeper than determining conditions which all must follow, I think there needs to be a change in the way which everyone views life. I think that we must integrate ourselves into a system which enables the individual to prosper in whichever field they wish, but at the same time, strive for the greater good of man and mankind. It seems to me that capitalism is the better suited for the liberation of man than any other political domain; It seems to me that capitalism is better suited for the existentialist to flourish.

In Simone de Beauvoir’s work The Ethics of Ambiguity, she recognizes that the facticities in which we are thrown into are ambiguous world of meaning, and offers an insightful approach to our uncertain life purposes. “It is because man’s condition is ambiguous that he seeks, through failure and outrageousness, to save his existence” (Beauvoir, p. 413). This is what each person in today’s world should be acknowledging in their own triumphs, but it is hard concept for most to accept. In this quote, much of the obstacles of human nature shine through: our tendency to uphold static lifestyles and to avoid failure. It is an unfortunate circumstance. If more people read existential literature, they would be able to better cultivate the fruit of their being. Instead, we have many people giving up, hopeless, hanging onto a single thread. As such, we have a lot of people utilizing government resources as life support for decades of years.

De Beauvoir questions the ethics of man, leading to the line of questioning that the good moral man ultimately asks himself: “Am I really working for the liberation of men? Isn’t this end contested by the sacrifices through which I aim at?”. The notion of an individual working not only for the liberation of himself by default, but also the liberation of his people, is a notion of authenticity practiced on the world-scale. If more people sought an internal truth, an a priori such as those of ‘living Marxism’, as opposed to focusing only on the “…conformity to an external [kantian] model” (Beauvoir, p. 420), I believe there would be many more competitors and allies for growth in this world. Not only does Beauvoir advocate for the liberation of all people, she also claims that, “if we do not love life on our own account and through others, it is futile to seek to justify it in any way” (Beauvoir, p. 418). This means that the love of life, on our own terms, alongside the love through others, is inherently a justification for life itself. In Beauvoir’s interpretation of ethics, I have been convinced that life is about individual purpose and compassion.

Though, maybe these quotes coupled with personal reflection are not enough to persuade you of the practical usage of Beauvoir’s ethics in our capitalistic society. These quotes serve as a mere interpretation of my gathering in Beauvoir’s simplest terms. So, maybe it is not enough that I am providing you the most pleasurable and optimal of situations. Surely, there are pluralisms that lurk under the floors of capitalism and my attraction towards Beauvoirian ethics. Which is why existentialism is not only important to myself, someone who is fresh to the world of its contents. Existentialism is also important to those with counter-arguments or perspectives which question my own understanding.

As a whole, existentialism is about liberating the authenticity of human from the constraints of society. There are many perspectives which concern religion, others claim that no such God exists. There are existentialist arguments from both sides, and almost everyone can formulate an opinion on an account if given the appropriate amount of time for comprehension. Existentialists philosophize their own lives and beliefs through personal or fictional narratives, deliberated in order to achieve an overall emotional sentiment in the reader. Reading existentialism is a powerful action, as it is not a set code or recipe of actions to practice. It is the exploration of the cultivated and nurtured inner truths of some of the world’s most important thinkers. It the most ideal way to study the existential account: a truly subjective look into one’s own existence.

It is the compelling qualities of subjectivity and connection that engage reader to writer, and serves as a medium of expression uncommon to objective and formal literature.

You could say that reading existentialism provides emotional strength, especially when reading a work of a thinker who you regard high sympathy and respect. There is a psychological “link between readers of fiction and empathy” (Peterson, 2009). Jordan Peterson, Keith Oatley, and Raymond A. Mar studied readers of fiction in an academic article from 2009. They found that those who read fiction have better abilities of empathy and theory of mind. They also found that those high on the personality trait Openness were likely to provide social support. This also creates an interesting connection to another study by Jordan Peterson.

In a study from 2010, Peterson also discovers that conservatives are associated positively with the Conscientiousness personality trait and negatively with Openness-Intellect (Peterson, 2010). Conservatism, at its core, is power to the individual. In contrast, its counter-perspective, Liberalism, is power to the government. Based on her account for the ideal ethical code of individuals in society, I believe Beauvoir to fall more into the conservative side of the spectrum.

Regardless of your personality or your party, there will be an existentialist who has iterated and explored the territories of your own beliefs to a high extent, and the account is definitely worth the consideration for the sake of critical thinking and learning. The reason why existentialism is so crucial in our capitalistic society is that we, as humans, have the capacity of growth. We are able to cultivate our perspectives with the perspectives of like-minded existentialists so that we are able to be challenged by differing arguments from opposing viewpoints. With a focus on applying and exploring the world of existentialism in our own lives, people are better able to shape, grow, and even completely change their inner and subjective truths in what seems like a matter of days.

It is because of our capitalistic society that we are as free to do what we want to do. Though, we often mistake the cultural vibrations that enter our psyche for objective fact, we are not confined to the arbitrary presuppositions in which we are sprouted in. That is why we must inform ourselves of the struggles others go through in maintaining an authentic lifestyle, so we can explore what it means to be a self; so we can explore what it means to be ourselves.

Imagine a society where people not only had the hows of their practices, but also the whys. Imagine a society where you could have an intellectual conversation with existentially and academically founded people. The movement towards this type of thinking in a society implies an increase of explorers towards inner-growth, in such, higher counts of failures, and therefore, higher counts of successes people encounter in the world. And everybody is still free. What an existentialist and capitalistic world we could live in!


Reference List:

Sartre, J. (n.d.). The Search for Method, Jean-Paul Sartre 1960. Retrieved March 17, 2017, from

Marino, G. D., & Beauvoir, S. D. (2004). Basic writings of existentialism. New York: The Modern Library.

JB Peterson, RA Mar, K Oatley (2009). Exploring the link between reading fiction and empathy: Ruling out individual differences and examining outcomes. Communications

JB Peterson, JB Hirsh, Colin G DeYoung, Xiaowen Xu. (2010). Compassionate liberals and polite conservatives: Associations of agreeableness with political ideology and moral values

Descriptive Existentialist Essay #1: Reflection towards my meaning of life

This is my first descriptive essay for my Existentialism course at Portland State University. It serves as an elaboration of my life purpose, using reflections of the past and content from our assigned readings to weave my current meaning of life.

To put the matter succinctly yet concise, my life purpose is to overcome the barriers in my life in order to achieve the best personal experience in any of the interests of my own attention. At least, that is what it seems to be. I have been struggling to find my own stance on how I should choose to live throughout my entire life. Growing up in a home filled with conflicting spiritual and personal ideologies, much of which was catered to a traditionalist taste of cultured consistency, I found myself in dispute with the many of the conditions surrounding me. I grew up with baggage containing unanswered questions and behavioral quirks that have shaped me throughout my time. The primary sources of my comfort were playing music and hanging out with my best friends. That was the only time I could truly feel free in life.

Coming from an extremely musical family tree, my Dad was the first to introduce me to music and the power it had to encourage positivity and solidarity it could have on human beings. Music is in my blood, I have been playing it since before I could read. But it wasn’t until my high school years, 3 years after I had picked up the guitar, that I had truly found purpose in creating music and performing it to a crowd. Since then, I have been pairing my existential crises with my music as a way of therapy for myself. I was able to find flow in musical expression, and because of my opportunity to experience these tools that engage emotional acuteness, I have cultivated both my abstract and musical thinking immensely. Because of the personal impact music had on me and my upbringing, it is without a doubt that I will continue to create music in my life, for myself and those who wish to listen with me. Music has provided me the emotional purpose to keep exploring and to speak from the heart, and the many comforting qualities I’ve attained from music throughout my life have shown to be worth a lifetime of attention.

Though much of my life  I have always been an inquisitive and thinking musician, it was not until my sophomore year in high school I had become interested in the study of the human mind: psychology. The class had provided me with a way to expand these concepts of cognitive biases, personality, drugs, serial killers, and the overall behaviors of our social world, all of which I had contemplated to much degree prior my course. Psychology and music since have been the two topics of interest that have fascinated my interest the most. The opportunity to understand myself and the society of humans surrounding gave me more hope of the future. Psychology has impact on my writings in my music and the music I would make provided the comfort I needed in the present despite persevering through my hardships.

In the beginning of my academic career, I had traversed here, in the Pacific Northwest. Then, I had no idea what I was doing with my life. Before moving, I ran underground house shows in my friend’s basement back in Illinois. When faced with a blank setting for my next chapter in life,  I chose Portland instinctively, as I had figured it would have a thriving music scene. But I couldn’t gain my parent’s approval to travel anywhere unless I attended to college, which was not much a problem as it was the plan from the beginning to go. The point of this is that I am in college, not because I necessarily want to be, but because I know that it is a road taken for many reasons. On one side,  you get to cultivate your growth and experience as knowledge loving academic. On the other, you get to spend a lot of money you could be using to invest on other projects. One one side, you are provided a path where you can enrich your abilities to cater to your deepest and most desirable career choices. On the other side, it’s kind of hard to enrich your abilities when you’re not too sure which degree will provide the most benefit, both fiscally and emotionally. So many conflicts of choice. They all concern one important theme for my future: my method of surviving in this increasingly expensive and fiscally demanding world. Starting as a psychology major and jazz studies minor, I would soon dabble into majoring in film, then back to psychology, and now I’ve dropped the minor all together. I chose to drop my music minor, as I would rather go online and learn myself, and to meet fellow musicians to gain more experience, than to spend money on courses that demand extraneous effort on my end in order to gain a piece of paper that has very little to no promise in helping the chance of opportunity in my musical endeavors.

You could say my life purpose is an amalgam of strategies that aim to serve my adventure towards ideal survival in this crazy existence. This means I need to find ways to survive in the physical realm, as in afford the conditions of my shelter as well as food and water, also including being able to have means to afford anything unnecessary to survival (such as books, musical equipment, whiskey), but crucial to my development as a learning and satisfied entity. It also means I need to come up with tactics to accommodate and balance my emotionality, and to help myself enjoy the time here in the present, as opposed to worrying about the past or fearing the future. My spirituality must be maintained through meditation and abstract thinking, all geared towards empowering myself as my own individual, existing in this realm filled with other like-minded individuals here to meet. My personal goals are to discover more about the human psyche and ways to increase motivation in a person. My personal goals are to help people find happiness in their own lives, through music and counseling and also with those I am fortunate enough to have in my life. My personal goals are to make music that contains growth and honesty from the source in which the muses provide me, with the intent that others listening will be able to find some gain something from the experience. My main purpose in life is to take all I can from the world in order to fine tune my satisfaction in my own existence, so I will be better able to give back to the world as it has given to me. This is what I was born here to do and it is also what I want to do.

This is why I am in this existentialism course, so I can explore the minds of the ones with similar and new thoughts than my own, and to find the lesson in each one has. It is also interesting learning of existentialists like it is with any other person, they have unique origin stories and hardships to deal with, yet they all touch on similar qualities of thought when concerning our own existence. In Dostoevsky’s “Notes from the Underground”, the reader is offered a memoir of an incredibly conscious and anxious man, and presented a perspective which explores conflicts of thought and action. He makes claims of guilt and denies himself pleasure, he spends time with those in which he feels spite. He is a mess, and reading it showed me that there was a whole world of people who overindulge themselves with their thoughts. Chapter one in Kevin Aho’s “Existentialism: An Introduction” is founded by the description of the evolving framework of thought which was existentialism. Reading that helped emphasize the truth of history and the rise of existentialist thought in the world, and that itself had truly resonated with me. Now I had a source where I could extend even further my insight in life, and it was through the works of other people.

The readings from this existentialism course resonated with me to a high degree in my own introspective life. In Chapter two of Kevin Aho’s book “Existentialism: An Introduction”, Aho alludes to a quote from Plato’s Republic, “It leads the soul forcibly upward”. This claim portrays Plato’s insight of what happens when a person begins to apply abstract and mathematical thinking, such as geometry, in their framework of perception. For example, Aho mentioned detaching oneself of ‘…[the] physical body and my historical situation and employ the faculty of reason alone, I am able to encounter the essence of this particular object in terms of numbers that are timeless and universal.” (Aho, 2015, p. 39). He extends this thought by distinguishing the simple observation of ‘small circular thing’ to an enriched perspective  with attention to the unchanging geometric principles which exist in said small circular thing.

Personally, I was able to connect strongly with the sentiment of detaching oneself and their historical situation. Recently, my quest to find freedom from mental anguish has found light in the form of deep breathing and meditation. Though the teachings I’ve learned are not fully developed or absorbed in my conscience, I’ve realized much of my distress is a result of my nature to talk to myself uncompassionately. With the context provided by Aho, most particularly the phrase “my historical situation”, it shed hope to the idea that the concept of wrongfully attributing oneself to their environment in a negative light was not as foreign to the human condition as I had previously questioned, and that acknowledgement provided hope to finding an adequate framework of perception to encourage more peace and mindfulness to my daily lifestyle. It was not until this reading and class that I considered developing my math skills to have a direct effect on my abstract thinking process, so that is a lesson that I hope to indulge myself into more throughout my lifetime.

Another concept from Aho’s chapter 2 distinguishes the human being to any other being on this planet due to our emotional nature, which segways into the thought that we are more than just a reasoning rational animal, which is also a feature distinct to the human race. The more we ‘fear and suffer in confronting our own situation’ and become “[…more intensely aware of our situation… the more intensely we feel it, the more we suffer” (Aho, 2014, p. 41). In the beginning of this year, I realized I was more of an emotional creature than I had perceived myself to be. To be honest, I have been feeling very overwhelmed the past couple weeks by the perpetual state of existential crisis – many surrounding purpose and existence- which have served me since the dawn of my memory. Upon the reflection of my reflections, I realize not many of the concepts I touched could be applied with certainty. I enjoy the sentiment of an eternal, atemporal realm coexisting with our physical world. I enjoy the idea that much of our analog is commended by our muses. I enjoy the idea that our consciousness could prelude our brain and bodies, making the perception of a potential second life within reach. But more than anything, I am discomforted by the level of certainty any of us can truly have of much in our speculations.

Growing up, I was a very angsty individual for varied reasons, and it was my self-identity at the time. The classic sassy mama who listened to melancholy music and found emotional solidarity on his free time. Last year, I had found comfort in focusing on my actions more, and insight from removing myself more from my overindulgent nature of solving personal dilemma. One overarching quality I realized was that I did not have to attribute equal attention to every thought, and the core of the thoughts I found value in were tangible sentiments and concepts that catered to my interest on transforming my lifestyle to positive productivity. My concern and attention to the chance of god had diminished, I had placed more emphasis on myself than I did the worry of past social interactions with fellow human beings, I had started my phase into finding more light and liberty in my life and mind. This is why Kierkegaard’s proposal of an ancient Greek aphorism: “One must know oneself before knowing anything else” (Aho, 2014, p. 43), strikes my emotionality the most in Aho’s Chapter 2. In my own life, I would find dismay when focusing on the external world which I had been placed to exist and observe. My greatest times in existence were when I was expressing myself through music and writing and when I was with those who I could trust and was comforted by. Most if not everything else would give me anxiety to some extent; the indefinite sense of certainty of the best and most socially appropriate action I should make in a given environment is scary and harbors a lot of self doubt.

This is why much of my life’s purpose has been to question and have a certain consensus of my belief on everything, as I am on a journey away from self-loathing in order to find refuge in my own freedom of uncertainty. But as many people before I have discovered, not much is worth questioning until the questioner has truly found the answer for the underlying inquiry in each of our lives: “Who am I?”. Which leads into the next point of resonance I acquired from this class, Da-Sein, or in other words “being there”, or being in the present.

Da-Sein has a lot implications in it, but Martin Heidegger makes the point to not fear death and to live an authentic life in his work Being and Time. Heidegger argues not to flee from death and the concept of it, but to keep moving towards it and acknowledge that death is inevitable (Marino, 2004, p. 319). I think that moving with my plan and acknowledging that death can come at any moment should empower me more than intimidate me. But this alone was not enough to resonate with me. Heidegger also claims that an authentic life is one who approaches the equipment in their lives with care and concern (Marino). This is a re-affirmative concept that encourages me to find my tools and to utilize them gently, so as to make the best of my options, and so I do not approach such equipment blindly or arrogantly.

My life purpose has been stated: to overcome the barriers in my life in order to achieve the best personal experience in any of the interests of my own attention. Throughout my life, I know I will have many goals and ideas. I hope that I will take this trail for knowledge my whole life, so that I am better to achieve said goals and ideas most adequately. Because of certain texts that have resonated me in our class readings, I am closer than I’ve ever been to optimizing my mindset. Though, even when I’m old and brittle, I’m not sure if I’ll ever find true enlightenment.



Aho, K. (2014). Existentialism: an introduction. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

Marino, G. D. (2004). Basic writings of existentialism. New York: Modern Library.