Chances are, if you are reading this blog, the void is something that is as familiar to your life as is your given name. You have either met the void in your childhood or adolescence in the form of an unfed, ravaging desire for more or, like most, simply felt the lack of something that has been tearing at you from the inside and out for years or even decades. For you, anxiety and even depression have been things you’ve learned to grow accustom to. And as such, believe it or not, you have molded your life circumstances around the fact.
Like you and for the majority of people walking the Earth today, the void is present in them at the time of their birth and slowly decays with them alongside their deathbed. When it is asked what the largest source of regret is in a person’s life is, the person concludes that it is the lack of courage in facing the void. Looking back, the person acknowledges the aspect of themselves that at the time, chose stagnation and security rather than following the exact thing that continued to breathe life into them every single day. It was the sole feeling that promised a new tomorrow; the feeling that urged their attention, that beckoned them closer to the unknown. The person admits to not doing so as a result to the fear burdened within. It consumed them.
The fear is a very real one. It could be an observable staple to the human condition. If you were to survey the collective state of mankind, this fear could not be more obvious. It is the epicenter of nearly every individual reality. You see it in the homeless petitioning for a meal, or the girl who starves herself at the consequence of being considered unworthy, or the middle-aged man who feels that even he, cannot risk anything as to appear prideful in the eyes of the family back home. You see it in the youth as by the consequences of student loan, cannot afford rent, or the athlete that stops at nothing to prove his or her own worth to an audience, or the elderly who feel that they too, have somehow failed because they have nothing left to give to this world. In conclusion, it is in fact, everywhere. The fear leads those victims to meet their most tragic fate: the fate of obscurity.
The Fall From Grace
So then, if this fear could be considered an epidemic, why is there seemingly no conscious awareness to the affair and where did it originate? The answer has and always is centered in childhood. On a much broader level, it was originated at the start of our recorded history and the mark of the Agricultural Revolution. From that point and onwards up until the final decades of the twentieth century, children were seen as a potentially reliable work force. Nothing more, and nothing less. Children were to tend to the crops and the livestock. If not to the crops and the livestock, then to the housing chores of cooking and cleaning. Society and thus, the adults at the time, adopted the philosophy that newborn children were in essence, a blank slate. Parents possessed the attitude that their children lacked valuable experience in the real world and as such, were to be molded by the influence of the adult. This process has now surpassed through the succeeding generations and into the present day where it is still seen as a common practice.
The problem occurs when in this modern day and age, children are no longer perceived to be a work force or at the very least, not a necessary resource to work alongside the adults on the family farm. Human society has advanced technology to the degree that we no longer are subject to mass standardization in labor through the advantages of a postindustrial era. Observably, the parenting and conditioning model being authorized to children is remaining functional while the circumstances during the entirety of human history has been drastically altered. It is not that the process of socialization is in fact, outdated, but it is that the existing model has been proven to be ineffective in a postindustrial setting.
Due to our present cultural influences, our society lacks the recognition to the possibility that children are born with an innate sense of identity and that children perhaps do have the capacity to not only develop unique personalities, but are intrinsically born with them. However, we can see this in a child’s development when he or she tends to favor or disapprove of one thing over the other; or when even an infant can comparatively discern between what is good and bad to them individually whether that be the favoring of a green-colored toy or a red-colored toy and vice versa. Therefore, we as individuals are born with unique and inherent personalities that are instinctive to our individual nature, regardless of how basic the preferences are.
Society inadvertently and unconsciously disrupts the process of individuation by disallowing the desires of the child and replacing them with what is accepted. For example, if the child wishes to remain awake to read a book, he or she is not to because it is past bedtime. If the child decides to eat cookies instead of oatmeal for breakfast, he or she is to be scolded. If the child attempts to climb a tree, he or she is not to because of the adult’s fear in the risk of falling. When implementing conditions to the child’s freewill, it is almost always through inducing or provoking anxiety-related conditioning. It is referred to as anxiety-related conditioning because it is almost always the case that the parent threatens the child through some form of withdrawal. Withdrawal takes the form of invalidation of what the child is doing and or disregarding the child’s experience completely. This process of withdrawal is not conducive to the child’s well-being by unknowingly removing the individual’s basic human need of validation, or love. In other words, love is not only congruent to, but is in fact a basic human need. This can be proven by the example that if it were the case that an individual is to experience an emotional heartache, whether that be an emotional breakup or a tragedy, the individual refuses to eat and by doing so, neglects his or her own biological makeup.
Perpetually, once a sense of anxiety or insecurity is induced in children, they eventually distrust themselves because they cannot discern between themselves being bad and the actual action of what they are doing to be bad. It is then when the child learns to distrust him or herself is when the child inevitably abandons his or her own individual truth for the sake of replacing it with what has been taught. Thus, adults and even adolescents live dysfunctionally in that they have grown accustom to distrusting themselves to the degree that they fear any thought, feeling, or action that is distinguishable to them on an individual level and almost always choose what is favorable by the group. If not dealt with, the absence of individual integrity and freewill registers in the human body as an all-consuming emptiness, anxiety, and or depression. In other words, an inner void. (This is not an argument whether conditioning is ethical or not, but it is important to acknowledge that conditioning is synonymous with conditions and not freewill).
In an altruistic perspective, we can conclude how this process can lead to an inefficient society, and therefore, a dysfunctional and sometimes chaotic world. In society’s effort to function in the favor of mass consumption and a newly industrialized world, it has implemented institutions such as public education. Public education, for instance, adopted the similar conditioning model that at the time, the present society thoroughly practiced. The teacher identified as being an authority figure and embodied the notion that children did not know better and were to be manufactured as to function within the normalcies of the given society. The system failed immensely in that it failed to recognize a child as a separate individual and not an extension.
Figuratively, we can imagine children as elements. One child can be categorized as gold or copper, the other silver. What the public education system unintentionally did was that it mixed gold with lead, or copper with iron, or silver with steel, and so forth so that collectively, individuals became standardized under one uniform structure. The basic building blocks that made up each element was disrespected and exploited so that only the desirable element could be created through the introduction of another. In other words, the truth and integrity of the individual that was to distinctly define him or her was exchanged for whatever identity was most desirable to the government, society, and or industry at that time.
It is most likely that if you are reading this blog, you were approached with the exact same attitude by the adults in your life as did the previous generations for over two millennia. Whether you are conscious of it or not, you have been subject to, and felt, the inner void. The void that is felt as emptiness and anxiety, antonymous to peace and solace. It can be described as the never-ending itch to somebody’s seemingly picturesque life or the painful reality addicts avert from through drug use or for some, a tool that they use as intrinsic-like fuel for personal growth. Nevertheless, the void can be traced through three distinct psychological reactions that can be used as evidence of the void’s presence.
Therefore, it is our responsibility to not only to become aware of the void inherent within ourselves, but to integrate it if we are to have any hope in finding our true purpose in this life.