My friend Sam wrote this in her journal earlier this year.
Like most college students, we both have existential epiphanies at 3 am during midterms.
I talk about the Box a lot.
It’s my term for fundamentalism and growing up homeschooled and isolated. My early school years were all in a converted storage closet with no windows. I couldn’t go outside or play with other children. My parents said they did it to protect me, but I always wanted to know what was outside.
So Sam drew this flowchart after reading my posts about how I left fundamentalism and our network to help people like us who want to leave. We often discuss how various boxes shape our reality.
And she said I could share it with you guys.
Did you also come from a box? What deep existential questions are you thinking about this week? Let’s chat. Leave a comment.
3 thoughts on “Philosophy and the Box: Thoughts at 3 a.m.”
I didn’t come from any box really, at least not one that was purposely imposed. Our family has always been pretty open, but when I was younger, death scared the shit out of me, and I felt like a strange, horrible person for being trans (though I didn’t know the name at the time). Death made me fear doing so many things. I also though that, even if there was a heaven, but I was so sure that I was a terrible, horrible person that there was no question I was going to hell. This didn’t come from anyone else, it came from my own self view.
Then there was also, what I had felt like the fact that I couldn’t ever talk to anyone about feeling like a girl. I had to play this perfect little boy, and make everyone happy. I went into a lot of different sports, even though I wasn’t sporty, because that’s what boys did. I played basketball and baseball, I was in wrestling…
I mean, they were fun enough, but they were all things I did as a mask, they were my own personal box. It was this horrible masquerade as this person, this boy, that I was not… I held on to this idea that, when puberty hit I would look like the other girls around me. Of course, I was quite wrong, and terribly surprised. There’s more to the story, but that… is for another day.
Have a beautiful day.
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I’ve wondered why I have no fear of death, or falling, or heights. One of my favorite recent vacation memories is jumping off the Stratosphere Casino tower (850+ feet) in a “controlled fall.” I loved it so much I did it twice.
Last summer, an insanely close near-miss car wreck caused me… nothing. I didn’t even blink as someone side-swiped me (doing about 85) and missed killing me by a few inches. I told my co-workers: “Dude, that is really fucked up. How could you be so calm??” I don’t know. It seems wrong. But also natural.
(You know this story.) At the end of the summer, I did briefly cease to be. It was in a hospital, so appropriate alarms blared and I returned quickly. What was it like? Quiet. The most restful quiet of all time. I’m not ready for that, I thought. Wait, I thought that?? Good. That’s progress.
My existentialism said: there’s nothing else but this. And I felt relieved and calm. But now, for the first time in years, I’m reveling more in “this” and not simply waiting. That’s why I wasn’t afraid to die—I was just sort of waiting for it. Just getting through each day.
Now I’m much gladder for each day. I got to write a comment on Elle’s blog, that’s a nice little daily mile-marker! I’m grateful. Like, way more grateful.
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“Like most college students, we both have existential epiphanies at 3 am during midterms.”
It’s because of sleep deprivation. I’m at my most creative just before I burn out and crash.