Senior: Learn to Find Value in Your Own Interests; Stop Searching for Existential Approval

May 8, 2018


As the seniors finish up their high school career this Thursday, they have written letters of advice and reflection of their time here. 

Dear Underclassmen,

You are not unique. Your problems, achievements, desires and feelings, no matter how little you have heard of them before, have been feared, acquired, sated and suppressed in every possible way that you can conceive. The world and its contemporaries will gaze at you with the same apathy that you gaze at the 112th piece of copy paper in a 300-page reem. In the end, you will not be loved. You will not be hated. Your fate is the cruelest the universe can offer, its only leniency being the length of your sentence; you will die, and so horribly, blissfully quick, you will be forgotten forever.

So then, what is to be learned from these truths? What value does such nihilism and melancholy offer you, who despite my warnings likely still aspires for greatness? Well, let’s start off simple. If the world refuses to acknowledge you, and you, like all of us crave attention, then there is no other option besides acknowledging yourself. There is no entity short of the omnipotent that knows more about you than you, obviously. So if you are the lone scholar of your own thoughts, than it is important to take a scientific approach when considering yourself. Many make the mistake of impartial judgement, myself included, but for a moment, consider what it would be like to criticize and compliment one’s own being from a non-biased perspective. The opportunity for self-improvement is exponentially boundless, and it is this boundless potential that makes attempting the impossible worth it.

So, to summarize the lesson so far, study your own actions carefully, with as little bias in either direction as possible, and learn from your own teachings as much as possible.

Moving on, I mentioned that none will care for you as you are or will ever be. This is not wholly true. You will find entities that are similar to you in your collective pointlessness, and will therefore see bits of themselves in you. This small detail will force them to take interest in you, and there is a chance that the relationship will become more symbiotic than it is parasitic. The layman tends to refer to these as “friendships”. Without hyperbole, to forge healthy relationships with those who are enjoyable to be around will be your most consistent and reliable source of joy and emotional growth in the entirety of your pitiful, and thus valuable, existence. These are not things to be rushed, indeed, very few things that are important are not deserving of a calculated approach, but there are thousands of people willing to tell you how to make friends, so I will say no more besides the following; Friends are not the people who don’t drive you crazy all of the time, they’re the people who are worth coming back to over and over.

To conclude, I wish to leave you on one final idea. Consider all the exceptions to the rules I outlined at the beginning of this piece. I’m sure several names popped into your head that made you think something along the lines of “This can’t be true, Da Vinci still hasn’t been forgotten, and I bet I can be just like him.” Well as I often do, I have found yet another way to dissolve your philosophy. History, as I’m sure you’ve found, loves to do things in terms of the unique individual and the great conglomerate. For example, tell me who took the first steps on the moon, and who built the shuttle to get there. Survey says, Neil Armstrong and NASA. Not Margaret Hamilton, lead programmer of the craft’s computer systems, or Gene Kranz, flight director of the operation from launch to touchdown.

You see, the first person to do something is often remembered for their action, but those who refine and hone, construct and perfect, are left only as labels on their own creations. So, if you truly crave fame and attention that persists beyond death, than find something that has never been done before, do it, and see if it sticks. But if you are wise, you will learn that to be remembered is not often worth the effort, and those who seek it are so often consumed by their misguided desire. Millions of powerful minds have been wasted in this pursuit, just as many have been lost to a lack of any direction at all. So then, what can you do? Well, my personal suggestion reads as thus; Learn to find value in the things that you find enriching, not what you think will make you seem enriched to others. You will find that since life has no real meaning or purpose, the best option for all of us is to seek meaning that is unique to ourselves, and stop searching for the existential approval of the uncaring, unfeeling void that we so tragically are forced to call nature.

James Madsen


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