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…