I think I need a change of scenery – perhaps a few days home over break will suffice. I reach this point by the last day of every quarter; after spending weeks pouring my energy into academics, I feel drained and aimless. Much as I appreciate the rain, it also doesn’t do much to lighten the mood.

What is it about change that’s so appealing? I always strongly disagreed with the saying “Familiarity breeds contempt”, but now I am not so sure. Familiarity can at least breed… apathy? ennui? weariness? I’m in no hurry to radically change external factors in my life such as where I live, whether I’m going to school, the people I interact with. But something needs to change when finds one’s own life unexciting or even unappealing. I toy with the idea of taking time off, but I have no idea what I’d do, and the status quo is the path of least resistance.

I’ve felt from some of my friends, especially a few from pre-Stanford, a sense of general disillusionment with life that is incredibly disheartening. I’m sad that young, intelligent, talented people at my age can be questioning what they have to look forward to in life. I wonder sometimes myself; I’m confident that at the very least I can look forward to new and different experiences as I get older, but I worry that maybe I’ll never achieve a full sense of myself and my place in the world. That I will never feel content and accomplished. But maybe I’m just letting post-finals fatique get to me.

Comments 4

  1. zaldreon wrote: Posted 01 Jan 0001 at 00:00
  2. anonymous wrote:

    I’ve thought about this sort of thing myself, from time to time.

    I guess most people have life goals- to raise a family, to see the Great Wall of China, to write a novel, to make as much money as possible, or any number of other things. At least personally, I don’t find any one of these things appealing enough to be my “life goal,” or to provide meaning to life. However, I can collect a bunch of them together on a list, and the union of all those goals carries more weight. I know I won’t be able to do all of them, but if I can do a lot of them, and enjoy myself in the process, that seems like it would make my life a “success.”

    I am reminded of one of my English teachers in high school, Mr. Davis. He was young- he had just gotten his Master’s degree in English and this was his first job. He was very idealistic, and he seemed bored with his life. He probably thought that teaching English to high-schoolers was not a very special destiny.

    After two years, he quit. He said that he was going to “find himself” by spending some time in the wilderness of the Southwest and Pacific Northwest. He probably hoped to have a spiritual experience. I was skeptical about the idea of quitting a stable job at a decent high school to “find oneself” in the forest, but I didn’t say this to him, not wanting to seem rude.

    He returned after less than a year in the West. I do not think he found whatever fulfillment he sought. He finally ran out of money and was forced to come back and work. Unfortunately for him, his old position had been filled in his absence, so he could not resume his job as a teacher. Instead, he began tutoring individual, struggling kids in English, surely for less money. (He also sacrificed much of his ability to influence the lives of many kids, since he could interact with a far greater number of kids when he worked at the high school.) I think his quest to find himself worsened his situation.

    To be honest, I have not heard of any non-fictional person taking major action to find “meaning in life” and succeeding. I tend to think that a lot of the value in life comes from social interaction: helping others, building a better society, raising a family, contributing to a cause. Introspection may be valuable to a point, but it quickly runs out of value and probably becomes counter-productive.

    So, I guess I would advise you to do what I do myself. I try not to think about grand questions of meaning, purpose, and disillusionment. Instead, I focus on concrete goals, achievements, and pleasures. I expect that if I have success in these concrete things, I’ll be able to look back on my life in however many years and piece together some meaning or overall theme. I don’t seek to chart a course into the distant future and then make my present, small actions conform to (my best guess at) that future ideal.

    Or, to say it more simply: enjoy yourself, be productive, take life a step at a time, and don’t worry about the overall design.

    Oh, and eat a chocolate chip cookie. That always makes me happier.

    Posted 24 Mar 2006 at 20:42
  3. zaldreon wrote:

    My apologies. That was my post. LiveJournal unexpectedly logged me out.

    Posted 24 Mar 2006 at 23:46
  4. wyterabbit wrote:

    Thank you, I appreciate your insights.

    Posted 25 Mar 2006 at 03:34

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