This is a blog post I wrote about a month ago. Figured now is a better time to share it than never.
For my entire college career student activism was more important to me than, well everything. I considered student activism more important than school, hobbies, relationships. Student activism was my passion and it helped me decide my major, my morals, my personal and political philosophy and my first job out of school. I believed in the world and I felt that my purpose in the world was to change it.
My involvement in the student group United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) was life changing. I entered school as a liberal democrat with an anti-consumerist edge. My work with USAS turned me into an philosophical anarchist. I had a great understanding of the world and how it works and functions from the smaller scale to the larger scale of global supply chains and international workers struggles. This even included theories from how best to organize people locally and internationally to economic theories of development. (Some of these were learned in classes, but these were taken because of my involvement in USAS).
My last semester left me a bit disillusioned as I saw fellow USASers fighting long and hard with hospital workers as they attempted to unionize. They were traveling throughout the state working 70 to 110 hours a week. I didn’t want to move all around so I decided to become a community organizer. I got a job in Philadelphia and worked 6 week for Action United. The world was hard, not rewarding, and not very productive. My stint with them ended and I felt somewhat hopeless. After a few months being unemployed I went back to what I was doing before as a job, working on bikes.
With the help of my pessimistic views and experiences in my personal life as well as my lack of tangible influence to make any change I began becoming disillusioned. I read a couple books and started to open my mind to nihilism, not a positive nihilism but more negative nihilism. I talk more about the details of that here https://casbalog.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/flirting-with-nihilism/ .
After embracing nihilism I was finally able to completely let go of my desires to change this world and to instead be free. While at first I was filled with quite a good bit of despair I began to regain my footing in the world of nothing, this world where there is nothing worth having faith in. I began to do what I enjoyed instead of what I thought the world needed. As Howard Truman says, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
I did just that. I began to work on bikes, electronics and learned how things worked. Nihilism for me broke me of this past view of asking the world what it needed that I had been told before and allowed me to do what I was actually passionate about.
Now as I continue doing what I want and shunning pressures of myself and others I feel myself falling into exactly what I want to do in life, and it even falls in line with changing the world. By working and fixing things I am actively participating in the DIY culture and anti-consumerism. I also occasionally teach people how to work on their own things empowering them and spreading the DIY anti-consumerist lifestyle I have been passionate about for a long time.
Nihilism gave me the power to shun the pressures to change this world and empowered me to change it in a way that I can sustain.