Always follow your bliss

When the opinions editor of this fine, upstanding paper notified me that a farewell column was in order, I was intimidated by the task. How does one fit four years of life lessons into approximately six hundred and fifty words? Even worse, how do you make it long enough so that they don’t publish that awful picture of you they took back in September? And worst of all, how do you impart large degrees of wisdom upon your peers without directly referencing or accidentally quoting Baz Luhrmann’s “Sunscreen Speech?”

Thankfully for me, the gene pool I come from is known for excruciating stubbornness, so I bit the bullet and did it.

Upon thinking about the task for a few minutes, I went back to my first semester in college, to Dr. Greer’s Honors Early British Literature class. In this class, we studied Joseph Campbell’s “The Power of Myth,” which, while neither early nor British, has tremendously shaped the way I think about life. To boot, some of my dearest friends have come from the group I met in this class.

I think, above all of the things I’ve learned in college, it all goes back to three words that I learned in that class, from Campbell’s work: Follow your bliss.

To me, the advice seems pretty intuitive: find out the things that make you happiest and do those things, or the things that lead there. Screw the rest, except for paying bills. You might want to do that every so often. I had to learn that lesson the hard way.

Sometimes the road to your bliss is downright treacherous. You may have to struggle and sacrifice to those things that make you happiest, and maybe the road there will make you realize that the destination isn’t even the place you want to go anyways.

If you want to follow your bliss badly enough, the sacrifice is worth it. And if it’s not, maybe you’ve taken a long learning expedition and it’s not your bliss at all. Yet again, a lesson I’ve learned the hard way. Multiple times.

Sadly, we don’t live in a vacuum, and sometimes our bliss comes into conflict with other people. Your bliss might cause others pain, or your bliss might involve people that really could care less about you and what you want, or your bliss might downright annoy other people.

That’s part of the struggle, and part of the process. Even if you want a high-profile career where you wear a power suit everyday, don’t judge the people who just want to live a humble life and keep to themselves. Let them follow their bliss, and they should let you follow yours without judgment.

Maybe this is a recurring theme, but these are also lessons I’ve learned the hard way.

Following your bliss is far from easy, but it’s worthwhile. Living your life doing things that you hate, or doing things just to make others happy, won’t lead to a fulfilled life.

Granted, sometimes we have to just barrel through things and do them for the sake of getting them done, but in the bigger picture we have to actively pursue the things that lead to our bliss.

Throughout college, I’ve found that, when I’ve followed my bliss, I’ve come upon experiences, friends, and life lessons that I will carry with me until the end of my days on this earth. I’ve also been very quickly corrected when, usually under the guise of “seeking a new opportunity” I’ve lost track of those things and people I truly loved and felt miserable about it.

Just as with all of my writings, I’m just repeating an adage of wisdom that has simply been passed down from those before. This isn’t anything new, and I’d be a liar if I tried to take credit from Joseph Campbell.

But take it from me, a person who has tried to live a college career by it: Follow your bliss.

Will Thomas is a senior majoring in economics and finance. He graduates in May.

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