The first time I heard the term existentialiasm was while in deep therapy with a psychologist. He told me that I had an exististentialistic style of thinking and I had no idea what he was even talking about. I was just thinking like I have always thought throughout my life ?
I didn't pay any attention to it because I hate being labeled or put in a box but a few years later while visiting another therapist I was again labeled an existentialist.
This irritated me so I started studying what existentialism was mostly in an attempt to prove these brain doctors that I was not one!
I was actually very amazed to find out thet there were people that think very much as I do about life.
some examples from my youth- I fought against teacher, bullies and authority figures believing no one had a right to tell me how to think or what to believe or how to act. This got me in a lot of trouble.
The irony of that- I dropped out of high school, earned a GED and then a degree in Education and became a high school teacher.
But I couldn't be a regular school teacher in the public education system so I chose the private schools for at risk youth because I could relate to these kids.
But even though I loved the work my personality would not allow me to accept the restrictions and rules that teachers were forced to work under and afer 5 years I of course found a reason to blow that up and quit.
That became a pattern for my life as I would get a good job, work my way up the ladder because of my ability to solve problems and my personal demand for responsibility but once a manager or boss inflicted some rule or policy I disagreed with I would resist and either quit or be fired.
I started to believe (and so did my family) that I was antisocial or psychotic and because I have a history of mental illness in my family I sought out therapy. Which is how I came to be labeled an existentialist and was informed I was not really crazy but had a style of thinking that did not adjust well to most peoples thinking and would cause many problems for me if I tried to live like everyone else.
That was a very freeing enlightenment and from that point on I realized I could stop trying to fit in with society because it was never going to happen and instead I could focus on my life and what made me happy.
I gave up the teaching career, big house, 3 car garage, pool and fancy cars. Got a divorce and moved onto a small piece of land near the mountains where I built a small solar cabin to live in.
I started a small businesss so I would never have to answer to a boss again and my talents and abilities would be used to make me a living instead of making other people rich.
I had been raised LDS but I finally told my family all religions are crap and there may not even be a God. Iam still undecided in this area so I guess that makes me an agnostic but once again I hate labels so I prefer to tell myself I have a personal spirituality and I am still seeking answers.
I am 45 years old now and live a very simple life writing books and and looking for the meaning in my life (which I now believe is life itself.)
The one thing I have figured out is if I sat in a room with Nietzsche, Sartre, and Kierkegaard we would have much in common but would not agree with each other due to our inability to allow our meaning of life to be limited by others perceptions or definitions.
So I say, if you claim to be an existentialist- you probably are not one!