Exploring Existential Concerns

—Do I Even Matter?

We often wonder in awe what more there might be.

Although a discussion of existential philosophy is well beyond the scope of this course, everyone has important questions and legitimate concerns about their very existence.[1] Focusing excessive attention on these concerns can provoke fear, anxiety, guilt, and shame, especially if you feel helpless or overwhelmed.

Strive for an accurate optimism while remaining curious. Keep in mind what you can change and what you cannot.

Here are some typical existential concerns:


  • How long will I live?
  • Will I be healthy?
  • What will the future bring?
  • How will I die?
  • What will happen to me and others I care about after death?


  • Who am I?
  • Am I doing OK?
  • Am I doing enough?
  • Am I doing the best I can?
  • Have I made good choices?
  • What could have happened if I made different choices?
  • Am I competent?
  • What is my stature?
  • What are my goals, values, and beliefs?
  • Am I living honorably?
  • Am I living life to the fullest?


  • Who are we?
  • What can we know?
  • Do I even matter?
  • Who cares about me?
  • Who do I care about?
  • What is my legacy?
  • What is my significance in the world?
  • What is a good life?
  • What ought we do?
  • Am I wasting my life?
  • Am I worthy?
  • Have I struck a good balance between caring for myself and empathy for others?
  • How does my life have meaning for me and others?


  1. Select any question or concern, listed above or from any other source, that you are interested in or concerned about.
  2. Reflect on the question privately, engage a trusted friend in dialogue on the question, or practice Socratic Methods to explore the question.
  3. Take care of yourself. Know that “And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should” ~ from the poem Desiderata
  1. These materials are adapted from the EmotionalCompetency.com website, with permission of the author.