The Meaning of Life

By Randy Chang

Fun title, I know.

As we all begin to make larger and more meaningful choices in life, we’ll find ourselves grappling with the age-old question : what do I really want in life? That’ll affect what courses you take, what programs you apply for, what clubs you choose to join, who you become friends with, and what you spend each and every passing minute of every day on. 

It’s a bit strange to think we’re forced to answer questions of this magnitude this early on in our lives; it’s easy to picture our 50 year old selves thinking, “man, I was a moron at 15”. There’s plenty of interesting philosophy on it after all, you’re practically a different person 35 years down the road. Does that mean this current version of you is making choices for the different person of the future, choices the future person doesn’t want?

Beyond the esoteric rambling, there’s also questions on what we want now. We’re told to study hard, get into a reputable college, get a well-paying job, settle down with a family, and die. I might not know what I want, but I definitely don’t want that, and I think most would agree. It’s just about who wants to avoid that more, because someone has to become the stock suburban parent.

One view is to be more hedonistic–do what you want, at all points. Easy, sure. But procrastination, addictions, social media, and other modern features that numb boredom but create it in the long run seem to forever plague proud hedonists. 

Another is in service of others–work for a charity, work to help others, give back to the world and make a change. Definitely valid and valiant, and any fulfilling life would involve that to some extent.  But the older you get, the harder it becomes to distinguish between service and not standing up for yourself.

The older I get, the more I believe life is about both. Working towards helping others, but standing up for yourself when it’s right–like taking personal vacations, but spending the time to volunteer and offer your time to those around you. With some luck, neither charitable work nor hedonistic life will feel like an arduous chore.

Have a good summer–don’t think too much.