Maybe I’ve just read too much Sartre, Camus and Kafka, but it seems I just can’t go a single day without having at least one existential crisis. Having been outside the comfort zone of high school and thrown into college as an individual on my own, it’s hard to feel significant.
Sure, grades are good, I partake in extracurricular activities and I’ve established a lively social circle, but do these things even mean anything? What impact am I going to make in a hyper-competitive culture on an indifferent world?
During my now half-finished journey double-majoring in English and philosophy, I’ve been told many things about myself by people who have been able to leave their mark on history. Sartre tells me that I have the freedom to forge my own essence. Camus tells me I live in an indifferent world. Now the Marxists tell me I’m simply a product of the capitalist world system.
With all these concepts thrown at me, it’s hard to be anything but pessimistic. Not only are these people dissecting the very way I live, but they’re also the people whom I have to compete with. Somehow, I have to innovate and add to something that’s been centuries in the making.
It’s hard enough competing with the run-of-the-mill average Joe, whether it’s for jobs, romantic partners, notoriety or hobbies. But then there are all the greats who have come before me, living or dead, who have paved the roads on which I am now taking baby steps.
And as I sit in class, learning about all the people who I’ll never be as good as, I’ve realized I’ve become nothing more than a sponge. No longer do I spend my time honing any sort of skills or creating anything. I simply take in what I’m told to take in, like a poorly run country where there are no exports but only imports.
So I roam campus, a creature that has lost all understanding of the word “make,” cramming information into my already disgustingly bloated body, still craving for more. Then there’s the anxiety of how I’m supposed to add anything original to the already massive pool of media when, in the grand scheme of things, I know so little about it.
Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself, but I just don’t feel like I’m being prepared for the large community that I’ve decided to become a part of. When previous philosophers were spending their college years pontificating at French cafés, how is a guy who has trouble building up the motivation to write a column, and maybe drinks just a little too often, supposed to leave his mark?
How does one even begin to philosophize? Where do all great novels begin? And how do we balance these endeavors with our social lives and other hobbies? Questions like these plague me and I’m sure they plague many others.
Maybe I’ve yet to meet my guiding hand. Or maybe I’m just a little too neurotic. Nevertheless, I hope my remaining years in school help me look toward my own future, rather than someone else’s past.