Some Nihilistic Wisdom :)

Thanks, Azama. (and Nietszche, I guess.)

“Close your eyes and think on your greatest success. Perhaps you found love or perhaps you achieved a goal you were striving towards. In the grand scheme of things, your greatest success is as insignificant as your greatest failure, and by extension: you. Remember that as you go about your day and remind yourself of how intrinsically worthless you are.”

“Think for a while with that little mind of yours of what matters in the grand scheme of things. Is it love, conviction, or leaving behind a legacy? If you believe in such things, I’m sure you also think a little thing like kindness matters as well. How very quaint. In truth, this world is an endless cycle of pointless suffering caused by desire. There will always be those want. Some want to be great. Some want to be powerful. Some want to love and be loved. What they all fail to recognize is that wanting is the very root of all earthly unpleasantness. It keeps us distracted, tethered to the things that make us unhappy. You probably want to cut those tethers now and free yourself, don’t you? Well unfortunately for you, that very desire is counterproductive. You are just as doomed to unhappiness as every who has come before you and will come long after your corpse is buried and forgotten.”

(I believe Absurdism is a better and more thought-provoking philosophy than Existentialism or Nihilism. It’s probably the most satisfying thought of philosophy I’ve ever come across, in the realm of existentialism, at least. By no means am I nihilist – I just muse in its concepts :p )

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The Beauty of Studying Philosophy: Prologue

“It’s all just a bunch of theoretical bullshit.”

I’m not here by any means to defend the subject, or to judge and criticize those who mock it and misunderstand it’s core points – I’m simply here to talk about how, and why, it’s been able to help me throughout my university ‘career’.

To provide some background, I’ve spent my childhood in the Philippines; and at the tender age of 10, my family and I moved here in Canada to pursue a better life. I then grew up in the suburban, quiet east end of Scarborough, Toronto. By no means I was a totally sheltered kid – in fact my parents often left my brothers and I alone for 4-6 months a year because they had a business to run in the Philippines. I still remember that crazy Winter season in 2013; when the furnace broke down, the water pipes froze, and there was a massive ice storm and blackout. My parents were fortunate enough to miss it, while my brothers and I had to live off of a portable radiator in a room, lent by our uncle! Wow.

Throughout high school, I was indirectly pressured by my school and my parents to follow the typical North-American Dream and follow the road to capitalist success. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, though. I drank the kool-aid and took those science courses and math courses and business courses. While my parents were actually pretty democratic in the way that they allowed me to pursue anything I wanted, they showed clear signs that they wanted me to pursue something in the STEM-field. “Don’t be like your Ahya,” I remember my mother always told me all throughout high school. She was referring to my oldest brother, whose very explosive character had the mindset of a writer, while working various retail jobs. He was a very “just follow your dreams” type of person, which is something I admired.

My mother didn’t explicitly state that she favoured my Dihya, or my middle brother, either. But she did – at least subconsciously or something. See, Dihya graduated from McMaster University with a Software Engineering degree. And he did it as a fresh immigrant from the Philippines, which is impressive and something I could not ever do. He was always level-headed in the family, especially contrasted with my oldest brother (who I stated to be very ‘explosive’). He was also the person I was able to rely on the most, and he was never afraid to tell anyone if he thinks they’re wrong or being irrational. With the unconscious bias from my mother towards him, and her telling me “not to be like [my] Ahya,” I too developed unconsciously that I wanted to be more like my Dihya. And that means studying STEM or any career that looked profitable enough in today’s world.

But I hated Physics. I remember coming to class thinking that I’m gonna get to study rad things like force, gravity, motion. But it turns out that they were all just equations some historical geniuses already discovered, and I just had to memorize them and plug some numbers in. It was actually the most boring thing I’ve ever had to study. Chemistry was fun, I mean I got to mix cool stuff and wear lab coats, but I can’t really do anything by touching just one field of science. Oh, I never even took Grade 11 Biology, because my mother really wanted me to be a doctor (everyone has to have a rebellious phase… right? Well I hated studying cells and shit in Grade 10 Science anyways) and to prove a point, I locked myself out of that field. Yikes. And there was Accounting class. I had a hilarious teacher who managed to – gasp – not make Accounting dry. I genuinely liked it, because it felt very relevant and practical.

My Accounting teacher mentored me for my last two high school years and recommended the University of Waterloo to me, because of co-op. She also told me that I’d die from the competition if I go to University of Toronto’s Rotman Commerce (jokes on me). I also thought Accounting would be a decent degree because I found it laughably easy in high school; and I thought that it couldn’t be much worse in University. I was in the mindset of just getting the degree, becoming a CGA (at the time), and getting some 9-5 job afterwards. I had it all set – I can envision myself being content with the standard first-world lifestyle.

But maybe, as I look back, I may have been ‘liking’ or somewhat fantasizing about that life because that’s exactly what my parents wanted out of me. Even if I had some ups and downs throughout high school with my parents, at the end of the day I still wanted to make them proud and happy. It’s funny, really. My mother was the one telling me that I had apparently got both of my brothers’ strengths: my brother’s creativity and artistic skill, along with my other brother’s exceptional math and logic skills. But obviously, as what my mother earlier told me (and what I realize just now – something I kept telling myself as well), I ended up leaving my ‘right-brain’ in the dust while I kept trying to sharpen my ‘left-brain’. Honestly, however, I believe that while I did inherit my brother’s passion for writing and my other brother’s talent in math, I’m not nearly as good as both of them. Kind of like that “jack-of-all-trades, master of none” trope.

And so you have it. While I was given freedom, I was injected with that ‘immigrant bias’ and consequently faced the world with a practical outlook on life.

The Milennial Generation: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Disclaimer: This is an opinionated topic, using subjective evidence from my own experiences and inferences.

Milennials are notorious for being the “self-entitled kids” from the older generations. And they’re not exactly wrong.

Looking from a perspective of immigrant families living in a standard first-world country, these fathers and/or mothers have worked their asses off at jobs they probably don’t like. With blood, sweat and tears, they have earned every hard-earned penny just to put food on the table, and pay the bills. They have essentially sacrificed their dreams to give their children the hope of a better life.

But we all knew that – at least, the kids of the standard immigrant family knew that. With us being oblivious to the first-hand experience of our parents working vigorously just so that we don’t have to ourselves, most of us probably took it for granted. Hence, without all the crippling hard work weighing the milennials down, we get to experience life’s best opportunities. And we want it to stay that way. The so-called ‘average’ milennial would want to pursue their passion, their drive, and find their purpose in life – they want to change the world in some way. Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong about that. It’s actually empowering, really.

However, this is where the disconnect between the milennials and their parents come from. The parents, having known full well the struggles of the ‘real world,’ are tough cookies full of life lessons learned the hard way. The ‘average’ milennials, on the other hand, never really did (because we’re still too young… and broke); and hence, are idealistic and full of vision and purpose. Our parents get mad at us for pursuing things they never had the opportunity of pursuing before, and say that it is too impractical and unrealistic – and it probably is. So, when the actual work comes before us, a lot of us crumble apart. We resort to memes and sugar daddy jokes because we can’t absorb the reality of life’s challenges, and prefer it to be spoon-fed by our parents like before.

The milennials sharing the age of social media technology doesn’t help their case either. The ‘average’ milennial seems to be short-sighted and egocentric – having the belief that “I’m worth a lot in this world, and people should realize that” in a world of 7 billion people. This honestly isn’t wrong, because everyone needs to be self-empowered and it is a wonderful feeling to have, but perhaps this is taken too far – to the level of egotistical narcissism. We are drowning in selfies, constant ‘transformation & progress’ work-out pictures, and trivial fads. The fact that the Kardashians, who are the embodiment of narcissism and needless aesthetics, being popular as they are fed constant likes, gossip and comments on social media, do not help this case either. It begs the question: are we actually having fun, or are we just showing people that we’re having fun? Most of us low-key know this, but social media is our faux identity that fuels our jealousy of other people’s lives; and yet, we still contribute to it by projecting the best versions of ourselves as well!

But we should realize that selfies and random gigs don’t last. Physical beauty diminishes. A hard-earned career is actually worth pursuing. Hard work is worth it.

With all that said, milennials also have the best defining qualities a generation could have. While I made it look like a weakness, our sense of self-worth is incredible in a world like today. Gender differences and LGBT issues are now coming to light without any discrimination involved. We are the least judgmental people, and we all respect one another. Domestic violence, rape cases, and mental health stigma are diminishing, with most of us being well-aware and informed of such things. We have drive, a sense of purpose, and we are determined to pursue it. I believe that this drive will allow us to save the world that the generations before us contributed in its destruction. And… most of all, our sense of idealism – the very idealism that was taken from most of our parents and their dreams – will be the source of our successes. We are hopeful, yearning, and loving because of it.

Again, this is all under the eyes of myself. I am a milennial, and am proud to be in such generation without the experience of world war, famine, and crippling discrimination. I hope to not take such blessings for granted.