1. It either dawns on you or you remember that you are a living breathing thing that is going to die one day
I’m a real boy!
2. You see people
Other people are no longer just nuisances or obstacles, but fascinating creatures with unique lives and back stories.
3. You become aware that your body is an organism
It’s not just this physical persona you show to the world, but a fragile functioning entity with organs inside you’ve never seen.
4. You become kind of a space cadet
You look up and around while walking and think how amazing and impermanent everything is.
5. You think more about age
You get why elderly people can be crotchety, and you don’t blame them. You imagine seeing younger people with their whole lives ahead of them when you know yours is about to end. You never thought you would be a bitter old person, but now you wonder.
6. You realize you’re not invincible
You make an effort to take better care of yourself and curse yourself for not starting sooner.
7. You reach out
You call your parents and grandparents and friends because you suddenly realize that you do not know how much time you have left with them.
8. You get sensitive
When someone you care about jokes about dying, you get combative and want to cry. Basically, you’re alarming.
9. You look for answers
You google questions like, “What is the meaning of it all?,” “What am I doing with my life?,” “What is the point?” You are often left sorely disappointed by jerk answers on Ask.com.
10. If you were not an emotional person before, you are now
You may be going through a perfectly average day, feeling fine, when all of the sudden you start tearing up. You are struck with thoughts of life and death. You have to tell yourself to keep it together so your coworkers or peers don’t diagnose you with the crazies or the mensies.
11. You often can’t read a book or watch a movie without crying
Even if you were never before affected by sad fictional scenes — you used to observe them from a distant third-party perspective as a source of entertainment — now you internalize the emotions of the plot and make it about you.
12. You empathize with death
Before, when you heard news of someone dying, you gave it a standard polite,”That’s sad,” and moved on because you had other things to do.
Now, you actually feel like you are dying inside.
13. You can’t pass a cemetery without cringing
Before you drove past cemeteries without a second thought — well, you maybe wondered where all of the dead people go because there are definitely more of them — but now if you see them in person or on TV, a big flashing, beeping sign goes off in your head that reads, “You are going to die.” You imagine yourself being in one of those cemetery plots, and you start to run out of air; basically, you avoid cemeteries at all costs.
14. You reassess your life
If you are in high school, you may reorder your priorities. If you are in college, you may change your major or spend more time doing what you love. If you have graduated and are already in a job, you may take a sabbatical,go back to school or change careers.
15. You have this urge to shake people and tell them “You are alive, and you won’t always be” and have them understand
But then you get arrested for harassment, and there goes part of your life.
16. You become a sentimental sap
You are easily touched.
17. You start documenting things
You want to capture moments so you can relive them.
18. You start reading inspirational books
You pick out books by people who seem to have it more together than you in the hopes you can learn something.
19. You either become super motivated or absolutely paralyzed
If you already knew what you wanted to do with your life, an existential crisis may be the best thing for your career. If you already had no idea what you were doing with your life, now you may not be able to get up and make cereal.
20. You rediscover your bucket list
More than likely you have already made one. But now you revise it (a.k.a.: edit out “become a rock star” and replace it with “be happy and healthy”).
21. You try not to waste time
You try to live every day at a time, which is as easy as it sounds, seeing how the Tardis has not been invented yet.
22. You try to cope
No matter how you feel, it doesn’t matter. Maybe you find solace in the absolute certainty that everyone else is going down with you (literally), or maybe you come to a more poetic conclusion.
23. You suddenly don’t feel worthy
You think about all of the amazing people out there who have done inspirational things that allow them to speak at TED talks, and what have you done? Watch TED talks.
24. You consider religion
If you are not a religious person, you think how much better you would feel if you had a faith.
25. You avoid health magazines
Similar to cemeteries, they incite panicky feelings. They are filled with articles on average lifespan, obesity percentages, and disorders and disease.
26. You become a slight hypochondriac
You think back to when you had a dentist, doctor or dermatologist appointment and realize you probably should have had you last one sooner.
27. You take risks
If you only have one life to live and you cannot do it over, it seems like there is nothing left to lose. You are already going to lose it all inevitably, give or take 10 years.