As I was filling out some applications last night, I was confronted with a question that simply asked "What matters to you, and why?" It reminded me how a question did not have to be complexly worried to require a thoughtful and thorough answer. That question immediately made me think of Existentialism and the meaning I had chosen to create in my own life.
I wonder what Camus or Sartre would think if I told them that my answer was simply 'happiness.' When I read works in Philosophy, authors treated happiness as a divine goal towards which people strive. It is not something we can find everyday. But I disagree. Even when I feel sick or exhausted or like everything is going against me, if someone were to ask me if I were happy, I would not hesitate to say yes. For me, happiness is appreciation for the opportunities one has been given, and satisfaction with what he or she has been able to make of them. Lately, I have been able to find happiness in the hard work I have been doing, the family and friends I have around me, and the way I can find myself through swimming and dance. These are the things that create meaning in my life. And while Existentialists may argue that I am wrong for deriving meaning from socially-constructed facades, I would say that I am deriving meaning from happiness.
I do not yet know what I want to do with my future. I have no idea where I will end up working, or even where I will go to college yet. I have not specifically decided what I want to do with my life. In fact, the only thing I know for sure is that no matter what, I want to be happy doing it. Personal success is important, yes, but it is just like any of the other constructions I am deriving happiness from now. They might change, and they probably will. The meaning I have found for my life is what makes this college application process so important to me. I do not want to go to a place that necessarily has the most prestige; I want to attend a college that is the best fit for me. I want a college that challenges me, provides me with answers to my curiosity, and has smart people with open minds and hearts because those are some of the things that make me happy.
I wonder how Meursault would answer that college application question.