OPINION: The philosophy behind your potential feelings towards the end of this semester

Rose Donnelly, Commentary writer

It might be seasonal depression or the last haul to the end of the semester, but you might be experiencing a conglomeration of feelings right now. 

Philosophers have tried to tie these emotions to a bigger ideal in our world rather than a scientific explanation. 

These are a few notions that philosophers have molded into our perception of existential dread and the nagging feeling that nothing matters anymore. 

Existential Crisis 

It’s a crippling feeling of uncertainty. You’re struck with the clarity of just how vast the world is and the possibilities with it. Having an existential crisis constitutes stepping back and examining that your life isn’t as straightforward as you once thought. 

Most people believe they have a set list of paths to choose from and don’t think about the other alternatives. The crisis is the realization that your time here is so limited and you are burdened with a plethora of opinions you don’t know will make your life fulfilling or not. 


Søren Kierkegaard coined the term ‘angst’ when attempting to understand why people feel pessimistic about life. Angst is the idea that we know there are an infinite number of choices in our lives and yet we will never be able to have all the knowledge we need to ‘correctly’ choose what is right. 

Being filled with angst, in a sense, is a slight rebellion of existence and an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness. When we describe someone as being ‘angsty’, they are usually cynical and a little too deep in their emotions about their own purpose in life. 


Albert Camus famously expounds on “The Absurd” in most of his philosophy. It is the notion that life has no inherent meaning, but the process of our searching for the purpose of life is absurd. It’s the paradox of existence in a way: there is no meaning, but we continually attempt to find it even though we know it doesn’t exist. 

Camus urges you to accept, but also rebel against the idea that life has no inherent meaning. If you’re stuck in a loophole of your own thoughts, you should find peace and motivation in the notion that life has no meaning. 

Ego Death 

Alan Watts famously expounds on the notion of who we are in the world. The concept of yourself is merely a facade. Who you are, your ‘ego’, doesn’t exist. Watts explains that there is no objective to who we are. By defining ‘ego’, it limits the complexity and relative sense of a person. 

Ego death is rejecting how we define and limit ourselves. It is letting go of who you are, your importance to be a better entity on this spirling rock. Your idea of how your existence is apparent and tangentially is not real. It’s removing labels and definitions of who you are and letting yourself be a living organism. 

The fundamental self is not who we are, but how we are. Losing the ego of who we think we are and getting to who we actually are. Removing all social and personal restrictions that hold us back.

Regardless of if you resonate with all or none of these philosophical ideas, you are not alone. This time in your life is confusing and difficult to navigate, but there are a plethora of other individuals going through the same situation as you. 

Reach out to your friends, family and counselors to dive into how you see and experience your life. This dread, or crisis, might very well be healed through your own experiences and understanding of life. 

Defining your existence on your own terms is how you’re ever going to feel at peace with this reality.

Commentary writer Rose Donnelly can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @RoseDonnelly_