The Decline of Nihilism

I remember about a year ago when I was on Spring Break, I joined a Socratic session online. In response to a question, I proudly pronounced myself as a nihilist and a narcissist. I was truly ignorant to what those two ideas meant, so I forgive my younger self for using them incorrectly, even though I still cringe at it.

The truth was, I did believe I was a nihilist. It was very easy to hide behind the idea of “we are all going to die, so nothing we do matters anyway” but my actions were very much contradictory. I was a 4.0 AP student who studied for the ACT every night, ran a food pantry for my peers, and graduated as valedictorian. It was quite clear that I held myself to a high standard and wanted others to do the same. I did care. I cared a lot.

During that Socratic, my current-but-then-future boyfriend struck down my claim that I was both a narcissist and a nihilist. “You cannot love yourself like a narcissist and think about your own death so casually at the same time. One has to give or your life is a paradox.” He was right. I couldn’t claim to be someone so incredibly self-centered yet uninterested and unconcerned about my own death. Those were two parallel lines of thought that couldn’t meet.

Ever since then, I’ve always been careful to label myself philosophically. I would rather take the risk of existing without labels than make a complete ass of myself and associate with the wrong people.

Today, a few friends and I went to a coffee shop to get some work done. One of them commented on a young singer that she disliked because she was “using the fact that she is so unconcerned and doesn’t care about anything to seem cool.” I agreed with her. I remembered a time when I thought it was mysterious and cool to be disengaged with the world around me. I though the fact that everyone was so “connected” and emotionally attached to events meant that I had to be the opposite to be cool. To be interesting, I had to be numb. Two more parallel lines that will never meet.

Although it’s clear by now that my 17 year old self was not the smartest at truly decoding what my own beliefs meant, I don’t blame myself for wanting to distance myself. It’s hard to have ideas and opinions when you are young, it’s even harder to watch them get crushed in seminars and discussions. “Nihilism” was a way for me to avoid the embarrassment that came with being proven wrong.

I believe this generation is different. I don’t participate in protests, but there are many people my age and younger who do. I see a new passion in younger generations that wasn’t there for me when I was growing up. I’m grateful that nihilism is on the decline, because it’s not a fun way to live. After spending so much time disengaged, I found it hard to integrate myself back into reality. I was mean spirited, negative, and not a great person to be around. Nihilism can do that to people.

I think it’s important to value your own life above all us. If you can’t do that, it will be hard to value anything else that may come your way. I’m glad that my boyfriend knocked some sense into me when he had the chance. I’m glad I listened and reconsidered my stance on life and how to interact with reality. I’m glad that students and young people are passionate about things they believe in and that they show it. I’m glad that we are all present in our lives.

Best,

Eloragh

Advertisements

Busy Days

Wow, I had a busy day.

I woke up at 6am to register for classes, got to Taos by 8am for professional development, researched Senegalese curriculums, sent a lot of emails, had a doctors appointment, and took my last ballet class at my home studio.

Tomorrow, I leave for Montreal. I still have yet to finish packing, but I know I’ll be fine. Sometimes I forget that I can also buy things if I forget them. In my town, you have to have everything you need with you, because you won’t be able to buy it there. We have absolutely nothing in terms of grocery stores or pharmacies.

I’m excited. Going to Montreal, even just for a month, is a step towards independence. I yearn to be my own person and I am finally getting the chance to be.

Eloragh

A Military Education

I went to my best friends graduation today. 363 other seniors walked the stage with her, all in a perfect shade of evergreen. The girls’ high heels faded in and out as they moved closer and farther from the microphone, almost like the drumbeat of a military march.

The students filed in, directed by underclassmen, as though they couldn’t find their way to their assigned seats. I’ve always thought graduation and commencement ceremonies were ironic. Students are finally being set free from an institution that has assessed them from the moment they had any semblance of thought. It is ironic that their last act as a student is to walk into yet another regimented performance and gush about how wonderful the previous four years of their life had been.

You see, I moved away from this particular school district five years ago. I couldn’t help but feel a pang of hurt watching all of my old friends gather to celebrate their accomplishments. I also felt a pang knowing that these people had gone through the same pain I had suffered in high school. They stood at a podium and thanked their teachers, the people who had executed their torture and accepted checks for it. This may sound cynical, but I think all teachers know how wrong the system is, regardless of what they say. It’s just a matter of time before they realize that we’re herded like cattle.

This was the 118th graduating class of this school. 118 groups of students had gone through the same procession. Their individuality, creativity, and achievements all being grouped under Class of XXXX. All of their individual accomplishments are dispersed among the rest of their students under the umbrella that is their class. But just like many other western institutions, we value humility and generosity in all aspects of our lives. The school system has taken that to mean sharing efforts, even if the work to achieve them wasn’t.

Eloragh

Discredited

Emotions. Mine have been blocked for eighteen years. I finally started to acknowledge and act on them right before I graduated high school. Most of the people around me have begun to resent me for it.

I still get my work done, I still seek out opportunities, and I still focus on improving myself as a person. On top of this, I am happier than I have been in a long time and I have no doubt it’s because of my new connection with my thoughts and feelings. I’m spending time with the people I care about most, speaking my mind, and being honest with myself.

I graduated summa cum laude, rarely went out with friends, never partied or drank or did ridiculous drugs. I was a perfect daughter for eighteen years, but the second I did something that was out of turn, I became a monster. All of my redeeming qualities gone, all of my accomplishments out the window. I lost the freedom that I thought came with perfection. Of course, it turned out that that freedom was only another form of imprisonment.

For the first time in my life, I feel as though my thoughts are being discredited before I am even able to speak them. Everyone has advice on ideas I haven’t even had yet. They practically trip over themselves to tell me to take advantage of my youth, to be smart about my options, to leave love for the later years. Not a single one has stopped to consider if the thoughts they are offering wisdom on have even come into existence. They don’t wait to think if I have been given the space to nurture those ideas on my own.

It won’t be long before I am actually free, still, it feels like forever. Sometimes the passing events have a funny way of showing you how your past was never the way it seemed. I yearn for the days of ignorance and love. I yearn to rid myself of the hate and anger that accompanies realization.

All in due time.

Eloragh