Optimistic Nihilism and Frustration

The other day, there was an interesting looking video in my Recommended feed on YouTube. It was about something called optimistic nihilism, and although I’d heard about being nihilistic, I was curious to see how optimism could be incorporated into it.

Of course, my first reaction proved I had missed the point of the video. I felt hopeless, felt like my tiny speck of an existence didn’t matter and that everything I’ve ever done, said, or thought would mean nothing in the future. It wasn’t the first time I’d felt this small, though. The first time was in a Big History class when I first starting college; we studied history from the origins of the universe to the present day, and one thing that I took from that class was the knowledge that everything that is and ever was comprises far more than you ever will in your entire lifetime. It’s why I’ve felt pressure in classes to “reinvent the wheel,” to be innovative and memorable so that I won’t fade into oblivion as quickly. In this respect, I fear death–in the sense that I’ll live a life unfulfilled without any remaining chances to actually live.

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Empathy on Steroids (not the drug)

I’ve been thinking for a long time about how to put this into words, and it hasn’t been easy. Heck, I’m not even sure the following words will be the best way to explain it. Even so, they’re the only words I have right now, and I hope you’ll be able to understand all the same.

Maybe you remember that time in your childhood when you knew for certain that something you’d done or said was wrong. I’m talking about the immediate feeling afterwards that comes from observing the effect, such as seeing the other kid look sad or start crying. It’s the feeling that tells you that you messed up, and that it wasn’t right that something you did hurt the other person. For me, it’s always felt like a pit that opens in my chest, somewhere above my stomach. It appears instantly, and depending on the situation, the hole may or may not close. It’s the feeling that compels you to apologize, to try making up for what you did. It’s a learning moment, one in which we begin to understand what empathy is.

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