What is success to you? Is it a six-figure sum after five years from graduating college? Working in the hectic and ruthless environment of Wall Street? Having a big house? What about that glorious Aston Martin?
I have had two or three conversations this week with students and professors, who have asked the question of ‘what do you want to achieve, or what’s your plan after you graduate?’ As a philosophy major, how do you answer this question?
I replied, “I want to understand and learn about life, I want to acquire vast amounts of knowledge of what reality really is and what it means to actually be alive.” If they didn’t laugh, or smile, they turned their heads and said “interesting…”
The immediacy of certainty and the attitude of security are overwhelmingly apparent in our society, especially in New York. So many students here want to be rich, want to earn loads of money, because money is security, money is ‘success.’ But it is? Is making a five-year plan, with the end goal of six-figure salaries really the meaning and true aspiration of life? I am not so convinced.
How many people do you talk to, who have gone into business and shared the same capitalistic goals as you, and have said, “I love life! I love my job! I am drinking this beer or smoking this joint, not to escape my nightmares and stressful working life, but just because I want to live, and love?”
Now, I am not suggesting that you don’t need any money, and you should be a complete hippy, no, no. I really understand that you need to earn money to live in today’s society, in this western bubble, which we are all in. I completely understand that we need to consume (buying things is one thing most of us are all great at).
However the need to have everything— this greedy attitude of purchasing products and fabric, cars and houses, consuming unfathomable amounts of food, buying the latest watch— doesn’t need to be at the forefront of our lives.
For me, becoming a better person is key; learning how to actually ‘Be,’ and understanding life not only from a philosophical point of view but also from a humanistic point of view. We don’t have to follow this capitalistic and consumeristic reality, when we can, in fact, discover actuality.
The end goal is happiness. Be happy with whatever you do, don’t let things kick you down for longer then they need to. Actually, screw that. Don’t let things bother you so much that it ruins your day or week. Feel blessed with what you have and what you have the potential to do. We are all students, most of us are going to get degrees…we have an unbelievable library where we can all study anything we want to study. We are in a place that literally can open any one of those infinite doors.
Maybe the door of corporate development, or a huge salary where you have to wear an expensive suit (otherwise you don’t ‘fit in’) isn’t the right one to open. How about opening that door, way, way down the line of infinite openings? Yes, you may have to really wrench this door open by learning and acquiring knowledge and wisdom. It might be a painful journey, but breaking free from the chains of materialism of this reality that we have created might just be the ticket to success—the ticket to happiness and understanding.
As Plato said, “if the prisoners are released and disabused of their error, at first when any of them is liberated and compelled, suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state, he had seen the shadows.”
Allow yourself to be blinded by the light of true reality and discover all the extraordinary and absolutely wonderful things that we could experience and achieve, without sitting at a desk and being disappointed by a $2000 bonus, because you wanted MORE.
Live life to its fullest and truly grab it with both arms; the possibilities of success with an attitude such as this are of implausible abundance. I promise you.