A stress-intensive four years preceded college. But, at least they were a grounded four years. Until you become the unsuspecting individual who takes too many humanities classes in a semester, there may be hardships, but they are hardships founded within normative societal boundaries such as doing poorly in school, not getting enough sleep, or relationship issues. If you make the decision to take all humanities classes in college, you’ll gain the terrifying propensity to ask unanswerable questions.
In high school, we faced a lot of pressure, but there were dependable times throughout the day in which we could decompress, such as: showering, walking the dog, and brushing your teeth. Now, that alone time is plagued with life-defining questions. Yes, college is fun, and it’s important to get an education if you want to enter the workforce after school, but what good is the workforce if you can’t find inner peace?
Intro to Philosophy, Intro to Government, and Mystics, Prophets, and Social Change seem like a wonderful combination of classes. Especially when you find out after the first week of school that Mystics, Prophets, and Social Change is really a religion class and Introduction to Government solely covers the foundations of liberty and conceptualization of democracy. It’s an apparent benefit that all of your classes relate when you bring up Calvin’s indirect impact on the American Constitution or observe that the Buddha’s rationalization of death directly corresponds with Epicurus’s. But then the unrelenting side effects hit you like a brick covered in bubble wrap.
You’re long boarding through campus and roll over a beetle. Out of nowhere, that brings to mind a conversation you had in philosophy class about a man named Kurzweil who is taking 250 vitamin supplements per day. He does so to sustain life until scientists advance nanotechnology until nanobots can infiltrate the human body and instantaneously fortify our anatomy and repair organs. Killing this beetle somehow makes you wonder about the finality of death. Suddenly the two most important questions in your life become, “How many extra hours I have to work at my part-time job to afford the supplements?” and “Does Costco sell the necessary vitamins in bulk?” Sure, working more hours at school will put a dent in your grades, but performing well in school is meaningless if you’ll have to sacrifice immortality.
According to the Buddha, enlightenment is reached with introspection, which allows one to distinguish her apparent self from her real self. You move to the shower with your toothbrush still in your mouth, wondering if this material world provides too many distractions. It might be better to live in the mountains somewhere in Japan or Tibet to abide by the four noble truths and follow the Eightfold Path. Next thing you know, someone walks into the dorm bathroom and sees you in the corner of the shower, toothbrush in mouth with the water running, and you didn’t ask these questions to plague your existence, but thanks to your course load, you know this won’t be the first tricky situation you find yourself in.
Phone calls back home are no longer about checking in with how your dog is reacting to your absence or the gossip about your mom’s friends—that would be the dream. Now all you can think about while you’re on the phone is that temper tantrum you threw seven years ago because it defied filial piety. You’ve disobeyed Confucianism and now you’re wondering if you’ll ever attain harmony. As your mom talks about your high school English teacher, you’re wondering why you couldn’t have just gone back to your room when your dad said you couldn’t buy another pack of Pokemon Cards.
College is a unique experience, and knowledge is not as benign as a few tests and essays. While GPAs are forgotten, an enlightened mind stays redefined. For all of those who also made the miscalculation of taking too many humanities courses, we can seek solace in the fact that next semester we’ll just take economics. Although we will be permanently distraught after this semester of humanities, at least our midterms will just have multiple-choice questions pertaining to the Law of Diminishing Returns instead of essay questions concerning the meaning of life.