THE BLOG
10/08/2014 11:59 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Why Every College Student Should Be an Existentialist

Existentialism sometimes gets a bad rep. Probably because it's so often associated with the idea of an "Existential Crisis," or confused with nihilism.

It's not nihilism. As the greatest existentialist of all time, The Dude, will confess, nihilism "must be exhausting." It is. The main difference between nihilism and existentialism is self-respect. We generally agree that it is better to treat ourselves with some reverence -- after all, you are the only person you can ever really understand. So respect that.

Existentialism merely embraces the fact that we cannot control everything about our lives. We are victims of our circumstances, and if you're headed to college sometime soon, or if you just got there, "you'd best make peace with your dear and fluffy lord," because all of those little things you could control at home are about to blow back in your face.

But that's okay. A lot happens in life that we can't control, and college can be a harsh introduction to that fact. It doesn't mean we're going to lie back and let fate define us. It means we'll recognize when something is out of our control, and when it is in our control. It means we're not going to stress about the little things. Instead, we'll focus on the present, and what we can do to be the happiest people we can in that moment.

From an overwhelming social life to a daunting academic course load, college will bring it all, and without mercy. The last thing you want to do is get caught up in what a rough hand you've been dealt, because, in the end, it's just life. One of the key practices of existentialism is acknowledging your present. If at any point in life you feel overwhelmed, step back, look at your recent break up or bombed test through the eyes of the universe, and realize how much potential there is for you to pick yourself up and float on.

The famous phrase is, "The Dude abides," but what that really means is....

In the end, existentialism is about learning how to say, "it's just life," and moving on. And even though college may seem like the most important thing we will ever do, worrying about it can only make things worse. Choose a path that's important to you and focus on it with the attitude that wherever you may fall along the way, it won't be the end of everything.

But of course, in the end,