What is angst? When I first read the word angst, I thought it to be a cousin of anger. But, it is a totally different being. If you search for it in Google, all that turns up are definitions from a plethora of dictionary websites. Ya, that’s very helpful, Google! Angst is an emotion, a mere ten-word definition can’t do justice to the intricacies and nuances of it.
Let’s define angst then.
An intense feeling of apprehension, anxiety, or inner turmoil
For understanding any emotion, we need to understand its root. What causes angst in us?
Animals around us are bound by instinct. Instinct is ‘disposition operating without the aid of instruction or experience’. The instinct to survive and self-preserve guides their every action. Sea turtles just after hatching, move towards the ocean. Honeybees communicate by dancing in the direction of the food source without any instruction. This all comes naturally to them.
Humans, on the other hand, are very different. We have instincts that we retain from our ancestors such as self-preservation. But, we as humans have the freedom of choice.
Choice to do anything. That anything entails everything you could think of. The number of possibilities that you can explore. The opportunities you can give yourself. The number of things you could do. You are free to choose any possibility.
Now, the tug-of-war between these endless possibilities begins and ‘the intense feeling of anxiety’ takes over us. Yes, this feeling, right there is angst.
Have you ever stood on a cliff? The very edge of the cliff? It gives us a HIGH because you feel the danger of it, the adrenaline rushing through your veins. You feel the very fear triggered by the self-preservation that tells you to back off. Now, if for a second, humour me. If you decide to throw yourself off the cliff. NOBODY is stopping you. You have absolute, complete freedom on your own action. The feeling of ‘nothing is holding me back’ comes like a double edged-sword, wherein you could decide to take a positive or negative action. For any action to take place, freedom is a pre-condition.
This, again, is ANGST.
Have you ever felt angst? They say, name your emotion and you will own it. Have you in any moment every felt angst and named it to own it? I guess not.
Humans have the most powerful brain that can extrapolate billions and trillions of possibilities and get overwhelmed or lost in them.
In an era of stress and anxiety, when the present seems unstable and the future unlikely, the natural response is to retreat and withdraw from reality, taking recourse either in fantasies of the future or in modified visions of a half-imagined past.
So, what do you do with angst when you feel it deep inside creeping out around heart tempting it to let go of reality again and dive deep again into the storm of possibilities.
Nobody loves the light like the blind man.
What you need is a light, a guiding light like the North Star in a sea storm which gives you high hopes for the future.
What you need is the purpose? That purpose will eliminate the overwhelming possibilities inside your head. The more clearly you define your purpose, more and more possibilities will go away till you hone in the moment that you are presently living in.
Your angst will disappear like the dewdrops when the first ray of sunlight hits.
Feeling angst is crucial to connect YOU with your purpose again. So, feel it again and again, until you know your purpose in life.
Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it.
Here’s to finding your purpose.
Abhishek Verma is a researcher in the field of deep learning and artificial intelligence. He likes to write about the logical way of self-improvement. Spurred by emotions, he also likes to write poetry. Stay in touch by joining his newsletter. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Mix.