The Answer

“I’m self-destructive when I’m alone.”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t take care of myself when I’m not needed.”

“Why do you do that?”

“Honestly, I don’t know.”

You told me you wanted to help me find the answer. But then you left.

For the next few days, I hated myself because I believed that I was too taxing on those around me – my work, my thoughts, my presence tends to become too much for people who value and defend their morals and privacy.

However, you leaving me gave me ample time to finally think about my fear and self-destructive tendencies.

Now, I finally understand.

And I will try to put it into words so that you can too.

Contrary to my behavioral disposition of overflowing positivity and overwhelming happiness, I actually have an extremely cynical and nihilistic outlook on life. While I am invested in those around me, I am extremely desensitized and disaffected on my own.

My personal philosophy is that human existence inherently has no meaning and I have come to terms with the fact that essentially everything that I do in this life will amount to nothing as it fades into the vastness of this universe.

Nobody exists on purpose and nobody belongs anywhere. We will all die and when that time comes, we will be as insignificant to the universe as we are right now.

However, just because I don’t believe that existence has a meaning does not mean that I do not find meaning in life. It is not hopelessness.

There is an enormous universe which only shows how common, short-lived and fragile our existence is, but when you confront the randomness of the universe, then only will you find the importance in the things in front of you.

Due to this, my life means nothing to me and I do not own it – it belongs to the hands of the universe. But I have found meaning in my daily life by making myself laugh and bonding with those I love. I have found meaning in fostering good relationships with people and this is more than enough for me than any special existential purpose. I am happiest when I am with those I love.

Doing what you enjoy with those you love is far more important than any other unsolvable questions about existence.

All this while, I was self-destructive when I was alone because I thought the lack of a significant other proved that no one needed me thus it emphasised my meaninglessness.

When you left, I realized that I felt that way only because I was investing my purpose into all the wrong things. In acknowledging this, I have learned to channel myself into the things that truly matter – family, friends, and work – and not in the search of a forever person.

While you were worried about how I thought of the world, you fail to realize that for people like me, the only thing more terrifying than not existing and not knowing why you exist is existing and having no one to share it with.

So you left.

However, I thank you.

Thank you for giving me a chance to discover the answer by myself.

In embracing meaninglessness, I found meaning.

Who would have thought?

Shafiqah Othman Hamzah

Shafiqah is a Singapore-born Malaysian who is best known for her advocacy on social and human rights issues. She is notably known for her tweets and for being a columnist on Malay Mail.