The Woke Life

I’ve always wondered: how do I know which major is right for me? Sure, I’ve done mathematics, physics, and chemistry. I know for a fact that those are not the right majors for me. My brain just can’t handle that stuff. I’ve also tried English literature, history, and philosophy. And I love all three of them.

But there are so many majors I have NOT tried. Middle eastern studies. Asian American studies. African American studies. Psychology. Dance. Theater. Communications. Journalism. How do I know those are not for me? What if I was cutout to do psychology? I have never even taken a class on that subject in my life. How would I know if I don't even try it?

Unfortunately, when I bring this topic to people, they kind of just dismiss me. “I am majoring in Economics and Political Science”, they say with confidence. I wonder if these people have actually taken the time to explore all these other options. How do they know that they are cutout to do economics? My guess is that they haven’t really taken the time to explore the other majors.

I’m not going to cheat myself without knowing what the options are really like. I hate lying to myself. I don’t think anybody likes to lie to themselves.

The question “how do I know which major is right for me?” leads to a bigger and much more important question, “How do I know which life is right for me?”.

To answer this question, I must first figure out all the possible lives that I can possibly live. This requires me to figure out which values I support and what belief system I put myself in. This requires me to figure out my context. Most people don’t question their context. In a typical Chinese context, people do whatever they can to make the most money because that’s a value preached by the modern Chinese society. Sure, but is this a value you personally support? Have you ever questioned that? In a Capitalist, materialistic America, most people don't question the mantra that more stuff is good. They think more stuff brings happiness. Is that true, though? 

If you come to the conclusion that no, money is not your personal value, but you are scared to deviate from the norm. Then so be it. You are still filled with fear. And if you don’t choose to let go of that fear, then just live in it forever. That’s fine. It’s sad. But go ahead. That’s your choice.  

Figuring out your own belief system is hard. Essentially, each country, each society, each group has its own sets of values and beliefs. Christians think that it’s most important to do good. Buddhists think that it’s most important to let go and not pursue too much. But most people follow the default belief system, without ever questioning it. There’s danger to that. You might live your whole life un-woke. 

How do you know which life is best for you, you ask? Imagine all the possibilities. Every single one. Try to live some of them. If you can’t live it, imagine it to the best of your ability. Erase every single value that was instilled in you by someone else, and just start over. Do it. It takes time. Maybe a long time. But the answer will eventually come.

It’s difficult to figure out the best belief system, though. That’s why there are so many religions. Philosophers have debated this for Century, and they still haven’t reached consensus. But we know that love, bravery, and truth are three undeniable goods. But figuring a belief system is much more complicated than just living by these three virtues. It’s hard, but as long as you keep pushing the limits, you can have the “best possible” option.

What’s the benefit to living an awakened life, you ask? 

My answer is, there is freedom. There is lightness. Maybe you don’t want to wake up. That’s fine with me. But if you ever find yourself bored or unsatisfied with your current life, try this. Trust me, behind all the pain and exploration and hardship, there is freedom.

At some point in your life, you have to doubt everything.

Stay woke, kids. 

Alexandra HuangComment