Its Natural Through its Unique Experience and Choice

From the moment a child is asked what they want to be when they grow up, they envision the meaning of something in life. They imagine growing up to be an astronaut or a doctor, someone who will make an impact in the world. They envision having a purpose in life, wanting to envision the best for themselves. However, they do not think about all the decisions they will encounter to eventually mean something in the world, the path they will have to take to become who they want to be.

As humans, we can be anything we wish, we can choose how we will live our lives, but each moment that passes by, we are forced to decide, to act, on what we will do with our next moments. These small moments and choices will lead us to the path that is our life. Jean-Paul Sartre, a leading existentialist, states, “Man is nothing else but that which he makes of himself” believing that humans must create themselves through their actions and choices to find their essence.

Existentialism solely exists on the concept that humans are forced to develop their nature through their unique experiences and choices.

Our essence is discovered and developed as we live our lives and make consequential decisions that eventually define us. At first, humans are nothing; they must find their meaning by deciding what to make of themselves. Through our actions and choices, human beings are compelled to create and define themselves. Walt Whitman explores this concept through his short story “O Me! O Life” (1867) when he questions his existence in life, “Of myself forever reproaching myself.

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”. As Whitman ventures into the world seeking to find his purpose in life, he discovers that his existence is his purpose, or his essence, “[Y]ou are here—that life exists”. Before Whitman finds himself, he goes through an existential crisis questioning the futility of life, but once he understands his existence is his essence, he feels he has defined himself. Walt Whitman demonstrates how one may feel empty, feel as if they are nothing in this world if they do not find their true essence.

We are condemned to decide how we will live our life through our choices. We are born without a purpose, we decide who we will be, and it is our responsibility to choose the right path to find our essence. Frank Darabont, director of Shawkank Reemption (1994), explores the concept that humans must create their essence through their unique experiences to find themselves as individuals. The main character, Andy, depicts how man finds his essence, through his choices and actions. From the moment Andy enters prison, he faces several existential crises, similar to Whitman. After Andy is convicted, he tries to give his life meaning from his actions and influence he had on his cellmates. He decides to escape prison, finally allowing him to find his meaning in life. Throughout his time in prison, Andy was conscious of what he wanted in his life; he wanted to create his essence, not the one jail created for him.

Once we become mindful of our lives, we have to make momentous decisions that will determine the path we take to define our very essence. Existentialists believe that creating a purpose is an essential step in living. Without finding an essence, individuals are nothing in this world; they merely exist. In a lifetime, every individual must come to make numerous momentous decisions that will define their lives. Our choices define our existence, and how we live, it is our responsibility to find our essence. As individuals begin to find themselves, they have a choice to determine how they will create their essence. We are free to look at life differently and choose what has meaning, but we must become an authentic human being through our choices. David Foster Wallace’s ”This Is Water” (2005) depicts how humans can choose how they will create their essence.

Wallace concludes that we have to decide what we will do with our life, “You get to decide how you are going to see it. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what does not.”. We do not have to live in the same routine throughout our lives. The people in “This Is Water” realize they are more than just miserable people waiting in line to pay groceries; they have a choice, a choice to take action. Our choice is central to building ourselves; how we spend our lives determines our path. Linda Ellis, “The Dash” (1996) recognizes that none of us knows how much time we have on earth, so we should live our “dash” accordingly. The way we spend our dash is solely up to us and, “What matters is how we live..our dash”.

Human beings must create a meaningful existence throughout one’s life, making every moment matter. As individuals, our choices and actions will determine how we live our dash. Your choices and actions solely determine your essence. Human beings will never be born to have essence like a lightbulb does, but we can act freely and build ourselves through our unique experiences to eventually find our essence. Existential thinkers believe we choose our path, choose how to live our lives as long as we find our essence.

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Its Natural Through its Unique Experience and Choice. (2022, Dec 13). Retrieved from

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