To Be “Understood” is the Greatest of All (Unattainable) Human Achievments

As an existentialist, I accept as a philosophical axiom that my experience is not only wholly individualized but also fully removed from the wholly individualized experiences of others. While there are moments of shared experience, the cognitive frameworks that make us each who we are by intellect and personality and which we implement to assess and understand the objective “same thing” necessitate that the  resulting “comprehension” of the event is, in fact, deductively unlike anyone else’s.

(Side note: I do not write 48-word-long sentences to be labeled esoteric or pedantic. Believe me when I say that I reread that last lengthy sentence in the hopes of breaking it up. No dice, as all those ideas must be in contained in the same overarching idea or the meaning gets lost.)

These ideas bring me to this quote by Soren Kierkegaard:

“People understand me so poorly that they don’t even understand my complaint about them not understanding me.”

Once you get past the ironic humor of that thought, most people who take Kierkegaard’s idea to heart would likely wind up looking like this:

Image result for frustration

That is because most people simply want to be understood.

And herein lies the fundamental fault with that desire: the impossibility of the potentiality of said achievement. The intimate understanding of “the other” is a fallacy steeped in juvenile hope and an underdeveloped appreciation for the separateness, a/k/a the true individuality, of “the other.”

So while we as self-actualizing people tend to feel deep esteem and regard for our own precious uniqueness, we fail to honor the opposite side of that coin and admit our inability to “know” someone else. And you simply cannot have a recognition for self as special alongside the hubris to believe your “self” as integrated enough to comprehend “the other’s” selfhood.

My unsolicited advice: do not aspire to be understood, instead aspire to live with such an acute attentiveness that every moment is present, clear, and steeped with the paralleled and challenging experiences of meaningfulness, which is existentially permitted to be felt by every human, and nothingness, which is the rational result of realizing that 1 of 7,000,000,000 is frighteningly close to zero.

(That last one is an indivisible 62-word one.)








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