Nothing seems real to me

Am I crazy? 

Our elder has some reassuring words for a letter writer who is grappling with life’s mysteries.


Dear EWC

Nothing seems real to me. I don’t understand why I was born in this body, why not anyone else’s? And since I’ve experienced life only in this body, I cannot even be sure if everyone else is genuinely ‘real’ or just a figment of my imagination. I’m also mighty afraid of death, and apparently, death feels like being under anesthesia. I’ve been under anesthesia and it was just a void of nothingness. I don’t want my memories and experiences to turn into ‘nothing’. I’m unable to talk to anyone because I just get the lingering thought, “What if they’re not even real and I’m just crazy?” 

The only person that feels real to me is my mother, and of course, I cannot stick to her the entire day. My family keeps asking me what’s wrong, but I cannot even tell them without sounding like this crazy person. I’m 15 and in high school now, and these thoughts even make it hard for me to concentrate on my studies. I’ve stopped eating properly because I just have no appetite. Literally last week I was this happy person who loved life, but now I’m so miserable. Last year, I sort of had an existential crisis too, but my thoughts weren’t this extreme. As a kid too, I had all these scary thoughts but I thought I’d grown out of it. I guess that’s not the case. Living like this is horrible. Being alive and awake seems so suffocating, and I don’t know what to do. Please help me.


Grandpa-Matt replies

You are not crazy! As a teenager, it is fine to question what comprises our understanding of life’s mysteries. Let’s look at the subject of Reality from some different viewpoints. Objective Reality is the type where there is a universal agreement regarding its meaning. Examples are water being wet, rocks having degrees of hardness, the sun rising in the east, gravity existing everywhere on the planet, and at some point, we all die. 

Everything else is called Subjective Reality, which depends on the observer’s point of view. Examples include everything else that is subject to one’s opinion. Examples are a beautiful song, a terrible meal, a good friend, an excellent time, bad weather, an impatient lover, an inferior person, a painful relationship, a thoughtless friend, etc. All this is a fancy way of saying: We make this stuff up. What is real? 

In the book Dancing Wu Li Masters, the author Gary Zukav spoke about Reality:

“Reality is what we take to be true.

 What we take to be true is what we believe.

 What we believe is based upon our perceptions.

 What we perceive depends upon what we look for.

 What we look for depends upon what we think.

 What we think determines what we perceive.

 What we perceive determines what we believe.

 What we believe determines what we take to be true.

 What we take to be true is our Reality.” 

Scientists have discovered that our brains are constantly changing and adapting through a process known as neuroplasticity, which means we can modify our behavior and thoughts through learning and experience. You are not stuck with any past opinions, behaviors, ideas, and emotions of yours and others! 


The more we examine our thoughts, ideas, and conclusions, the greater our choices to understand the opportunities presented by sages, philosophers, scientists, and people of wisdom on the subjects of life, death, and existence. As Plato said, “The mind creates reality; we can change our reality by changing our mind.

As long as you don’t overthink the subject, you are free to make decisions that support your thinking, no matter how it changes over time. As you mature and grow, so will you in wisdom and maturity.

Article #: 497685
Category: Other

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