To Have An Existential Crisis at Seventeen Is To:

  1. Doubt.
  2. Wonder.
  3. Feel as if an unknown force is
  4. resting on your shoulders without your absent minded permission because thinking inside of yourself has become your main pastime.
  5. Abjectly search for anything with meaning.
  6. Scream.

Questioning My Existence, College, and David Bowie

by Zaria Ware

Finding myself has been harder than I thought it should be. I believed that if I read the same books and did the same things that my favorite characters did in the movies that I would somehow come across my magical moment that in one instant would bring me an inner peace or sense of self. *I wanted to believe that raising my hands into the sky and listening to “Heroes” by David Bowie in a pickup truck with the close friends that I never really had in high school was something every graduating senior should do. But I didn’t have a pickup truck, step-brother, or a boy named Charlie, so I listened to “Lisztomania” by Phoenix and danced around my room with my eyes shut tight to keep the world away like Sam did, except no one else was around. I danced and danced and smiled and screamed and cried. I danced because it seemed like a moment that I should be having. I danced because the song had a good beat. I smiled because I felt like I could be on top of the world. I screamed into my existence. I cried when I realized I was far from it.

Describe in 500 words or less why you want to go to [insert name here].

The college’s ask of me my reasons for wanting an education, as if there are any words left needed to describe the precise path laid out for me so delicately by expectation and consequence. I find myself staring at my computer screen blankly without any other reason than the word:

Because.

Because it was this far off concept of college that had been ingrained in me for so long that to imagine anything else seemed fuzzy and far off in the margins of my life’s plans. Because suddenly college wasn’t so far off anymore and now it was breathing onto my neck and dripping onto my skin while it created ripples that ran into my fingers to say:

Because I’ve always wanted to learn and explore the world around me.

But

that couldn’t be the right answer. It sounded aesthetically and romantically pleasing. It encompassed the idea that someday I would backpack across Europe, go to Buddhist temples in Japan, and go on a ridiculous quest to find the best tea in the entire world. It couldn’t be the right answer, because college was taught to be necessary like the water and air we breathe on a daily basis but traveling did not have to include a bachelor’s degree in Art History.

Describe in 500 words or less how you eventually “found yourself”.

I didn’t, at least not yet. And I’m not entirely sure that I ever will find the idea of who I am without learning who I’ve become first. I want to solve mysteries with Nancy Drew, meet Van Gogh with the Doctor, cosplay at the San Diego Comic-Con next year, open a t-shirt shop, and examine my face in the mirror. I’m dancing to Taylor Swift songs, reading books about people as confused as I am, and dreaming so much that my stomach always has butterflies inside of it as if I’m on the edge of something bigger than myself. And until I have my magic moment, which cannot be a replica of movies or tv to be my own, I will pretend that I am like Sam.

Grasping onto the tendrils of my existence

without fully holding on, because I am still

“too [insert word here]” to have connected myself to them

with any certainty.


I danced and danced and smiled and screamed and cried. I danced because it seemed like a moment that I should be having. I danced because the song had a good beat. I smiled because I felt like I could be on top of the world. I screamed into my existence. I cried when I realized I was far from it.


*(The Perks of Being a Wallflower Reference)