Does anything matter at all in the end?
Life is ultimately so sad, you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
What decides your worth as a person? Your camaraderie, your hard work, your propensity to get work done, your ability to inspire? There are so many things that I could list but I’d run out of space. When you walk on sand, you leave your footprints behind. You walk into a room and walk out, you’ve still left a few germ particles inside. In many invisible ways, we all leave our mark on the world around us. We need the world to survive but ultimately it is amongst our peer group that we thrive. As social animals, humans have always felt the need to connect to each other. We make friends, take lovers and mentor others. Every day we have so many interactions and at the same time that we’re giving our approval to people, we ourselves seek approval from those whom we surround ourselves with. While some of us are content with just family, there are millions of others who actively seek to expand their social circles and there are some others who acquire a handful of friends who they are happy with. This is not to say that those who restrict themselves to smaller environments are any different from the others. Every person is different and the people they know will depend upon their needs and interests. Yet in the end, a normal human being’s need to connect will persist.
When in college, we are all put into a situation where we have to rely on others (especially for class notes) and so we become part of a group of friends, or hang out with certain people. Even if you are that uber student who does everything on his/her own, you’ll still make friends because on those days that you feel blue, a good time with some friends can definitely lift your spirits. Some of us might limit this group to a few people while there might be others who “chill” with a lot of people. This got me thinking about life after college where we’ll again be forced to find a new set of people to interact with. We won’t be the enigmatic personalities that we claim to be while in college. We’ll have to start at the bottom rung of the ladder once more. And then this got me thinking once again about the relationships that seniors establish with the juniors and how this continues to exist after college as well. Which led me once more to think about what we leave behind when we’re done with college, our footprint so as to speak. Which once more led to speculate about whether people even want to be remembered and if they do, for what do they want to be remembered.
Do you want to be remembered for your camaraderie, your hard work, your propensity to get work done or for your ability to inspire? Do you want to be leaving behind a group of juniors who you admired and who admired you? Or does all this sentimental bullsh*t annoy you? I suspect that these are questions I’d ask myself even on my deathbed. The sum of my existence; what was it? In the heat of the moment I might not care if I‘ve made a good or bad impression. Towards the end however, don’t you think those impressions are what matter because they make and break relationships of all kinds?
I won’t deny that there is immense satisfaction in being given hugs and goodbyes. You feel appreciated and think you’re going to be remembered for years to come. You have that definite joy that someone else outside of your family likes you. But in the end is it important? I might be called vain if I tell you all that I feel good when I hear that I’m being missed. However, in the back of my head I still keep thinking about how trivial all this will sound a decade down the line. And then I start to think about how everything will sound trivial when I’m lying on my deathbed because I’m going to die anyway. So what’s the point of making a good impression if in the end it’s all not going to matter anyway?
In the book, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, Howard Roark, one of the protagonists of the novel says, “I could die for you. But I couldn’t, and wouldn’t, live for you.” to Gail Wynand. Ayn Rand may be called a hypocrite but the above line is a universal truth. We should and do live for ourselves. And so even though we might compare our achievements and failures to others, in the end we only answer to our own selves. So when I ask myself what the point is in making a good impression, the answer is that, “I want to live a good life. A life without strife whenever possible. A life filled with memories that age like fine wine. A life where I stand by my decisions and accept my mistakes with humility. A life where I have principles that I practice. A life with no regrets. A life that I can be proud of.”
There are many ongoing debates about life after death but whether I retain consciousness after death or not, before my death I want to be satisfied with myself. Transposing this to college, no matter how people remember me, I want to leave college knowing that I’ve stood for my beliefs.It is not up to me if people even remember me though I shall certainly look back upon these four years with a lot of happiness and a bit of sadness as well.
Before attempting to write this article I spoke to a friend about the absurd and contradictory nature of life. He told me, “Life is not sad da. It just is.”