I am 19, and I am fortunate enough to have already come to the conclusion that life is not worth living if I do not strive to do what I want in life and fight for my passions
One of the most popular maxims in the world of philosophy, granted to us by good old Socrates, is that “the unexamined life is not worth living”
Surely, the unexamined life is less interesting. But does it make a person sadder?
To be a true philosopher, you must contemplate life and approach your transcendence.
Simone de Beauvoir, my favorite philosopher, and area of study, explains of the stages of freedom in her book.
Now, I won’t go into too much detail about each step of the ladder, as there are 5 steps before we approach “genuine freedom,” which is ultimately how we reach our transcendence. But the important thing about de Beauvoir is that she addresses nihilism.
Nihilism is the third and inevitable step towards transcendent freedom.
Nihilism is an attitude; it is a conclusion that life is meaningless.
Now there is both active nihilism and passive nihilism, the latter of which we want to especially avoid.
Passive nihilism is what I would call modern-day dispassioned depression.
This is a dangerous combination because it is an awareness of one’s own sadness but also paired with a lack of passion or willingness to actually do anything. It’s almost like a complacency with one’s own conclusion that life is meaningless. Quite a sad attitude to carry for the rest of your life.
Eventually, you’ll burn.
Active nihilism, on the other hand, is how we are able to escape the nihilistic attitude entirely and approach the next steps to transcendence (which is called the “adventurer,” a person who does things for the sake of doing)
The active nihilist is in a rather precarious situation (as nihilism, in general, is quite a dangerous rope to cross). The active nihilist is aware of his conclusion that life is meaningless, but he fights against this conclusion—contemplating the notion and challenging his own predicament.
Eventually, the active nihilist, after much (or little) contemplation, will either move on towards his transcendence or revert to a passive nihilism.
I think every philosopher will approach nihilism at some point in their contemplative career, and often many times. Nihilism isn’t something we are able to just escape entirely unless you have approach full and complete transcendence. I know of no such person, except maybe the Buddha.
So yes, philosophers, true philosophers who are dedicated to a life of contemplation, will reach nihilism at some stage in their path to transcendence. Simone de Beauvoir calls transcendence “genuine freedom”; Nietzsche calls it the “Overman”; Plato has the “Good” and “Truth.”
All-in-all, if we want to truly achieve our philosophical potential, it’ll be difficult, it’ll be confusing, and it’ll also have a lot of sadness.
A sadness in nihilism. A sadness in lack of direction. A sadness through too much contemplation. But just know that sadness can be turned into passion and used to approach our transcendence.
If you’d like to read some Simone de Beauvoir, check out her bookwhere she discusses freedom, humanity, and the meaning of life, etc. (She has a special place in my heart; she also essentially founded the second feminist movement).
I think people throw around the word “passion” too liberally
If you are passionate about something, can you show me the results?
Your projects… your outlook… your portfolio
People who are passionate, truly passionate, have projects they’ve done
Passion doesn’t need to be told; it’s shown
Show me your passion.
My freshman year of college I had a 3.94 GPA. I had all A’s and two A-‘s.
But if I am being completely honest, that doesn’t mean as much as people think. Because there’s more context to it. And I don’t want to say any of this to gloat, because there are still people who graduate with a 4.0, and there are people who work way harder than I do–which is essentially the topic of this post.
Let me first give some context. My freshman year of college was easier than I expected because:
- I came in with 5 AP exams (4 of which was self-taught) so a lot of the hard work that I missed out on my freshman year at Villanova was shifted to my high school years. And that made sense because I was chronically stressed my Junior year of high school.
- Villanova School of Business is known for having a significantly easy 1st year (relative to STEM).
- My second semester I went to Singapore to study abroad, which meant I only took 4 courses rather than the 6 I am taking right now.
I barely remember studying for any of my classes. My final exams went and came in a blur as if I didn’t even take them.
But now, here I am, a sophomore.
Taking a full course load of 19 credits, 6 courses.
A lot of this content is new to me, so it’s not like I can skimp by without actually studying. Last semester, I definitely struggled. Near the end of the Fall semester, I was constantly calculating how my grades fell within each course, hoping that my GPA wouldn’t fall too heavily.
So here’s the dilemma I’ve been having with myself as I approach course selections for next year: should I try to succeed with less, or struggle with more?
A lot of people would consider a 4.0 GPA “successful”
But as I said at the beginning of this post: we need more context.
I can get a 4.0 GPA. A lot of people can. Granted, the best way to do that would also have an asterisk next to that GPA, because that would mean I’d have to drop my humanities courses (which I love, but, it’s really hard to get an “A” in a class where the central thesis is “what is God” or “what does it mean to be Human?”)
But what if I choose to overload every semester, and continue to challenge myself with 6 courses. I’d sacrifice my time to do other things. I want to write more. I want to do more podcasting. I want to create content for YouTube and magic. I want to read more.
There’s nothing wrong with taking more courses and challenging yourself.
At the end of my 4 years of university, if anything, I hope I can come out with not only a diploma but also the ability to say I took interesting courses and challenged myself intellectually.
But the asterisk is this: what am I sacrificing to do that?
Is it better to succeed with less, or struggle with more?
At some point, I think I need to realize I have to level up and go to the next level. I can’t stay in this stage, because if I stay in this stage, I know I’ll “succeed”, but I also know I won’t grow.
The more I struggle, the more I learn.
I definitely think I’ve been too complacent. With my time. With my energy. With my resources.
It’s time to kick it into high gear…
But after I come back from Spring Break 🙂
I hope that all of us are able to find something we love to do in life.
For me, I love finances. I love the idea of money. I also like having money.
But in reality, I dream of a world where no one has to be burdened with the concept of finances. Poverty doesn’t exist, and premature deaths are reduced. The global economy has a long way to go, but together, it’s possible.
When we love what we do, we become more passionate, we become more driven and motivated, and we feel like we have a “stake” in life.
Like we own something. Like what we do actually matters.
And I guess that’s all we can really ask for: do what we love and do what matters.