20something profile: Alexa
In one of my college courses this past year, a philosophy professor explained Schleiermacher’s On Religion. While I (appallingly) cannot remember much about the book itself, one lecture in particular stuck with me. It was about finding the sublime in ordinary, day-to-day life.
After putting our class through the laborious task of reading selections of Kant’s Critique of Judgment, my professor’s suggestion that you can and should encounter the sublime every day seemed absurd. But looking back on it now, I see her point.
I’m a philosophy major and French minor with a concentration in journalism — a combination I seem to have invented that is, as of right now, not officially recognized by my university.
I was one of those freshmen who entered college as a pre-med student, decided her success in science from middle school to high school was not enough to sustain a career in the field, and consequently converted to philosophy. I’ve been subject to the many “What are you going to do with that degree after college” questions, as well as the recent “So you want to be a French-speaking philosopher when you graduate?”
I understand the impracticality of my major. I am a manifestation of the theory of college as a time to explore your interests, whatever they might be. And when you are undecided as far as what to do after college for as long as I was, pursuing your interests is about as much as you can do until you figure it out.
I recently studied abroad in Paris, France, and aside from gormandizing too many macaroons and baguettes, I noticed that the French — and perhaps Europeans in general — are not as concerned with what you are going to do after college as we are. I know plenty of Americans who would define success in terms of job status, popularity, or financial earnings, but is that really all there is to it?
Somewhere in between reflecting on my philosophy class and Paris, and silently battling a macaroon craving, I got to thinking that what if it all — jobs, popularity, financial earnings — really comes down to finding that which allows us to feel the sublime?
I think what people, or at least what I, really want out of a job is to be able to feel a sense that what I’m doing is what I’m absolutely meant to be doing and that I’m contributing in a meaningful way. I even dare to say, slightly cringing as I do, that money should be the cherry on top of it all, and not the double scoop coffee crunch ice cream nestled in a chocolate covered cone.
Like my father always says, if you can’t wake up in the morning and be happy to go to your job, you’re doing something wrong. I’ve recently come to believe that what would make me happiest is working in the field of journalism. I’m not seeking any job title in particular, just a career that allows me to meet interesting people, go to interesting places, do interesting things, and write about it all in an inspirational and entertaining way. Is that too much to ask for?
Though I wish I had realized all this much earlier in my college career, I don’t think it’s too late to chase after something, especially if it’s worthwhile to me. As my Parisian alter-ego reminds me every so often, twenty-one is not so old. It’s young.