Continuing the dive into the philosophical ideologies of Kierkegaard, this article in summation elaborates on one of the two possible traps many people fall into when they are on their path to self-discovery. One trap is to get lost in the infinite – An individual contemplates all paths that they can take over and over again allowing the fear of uncertainty to prohibit them from taking any path at all. They become trapped in their own minds, confined by the infinite. To learn more about “getting lost in the infinite,” read this blog post. The opposite trap, one that is even scarier in my opinion, is to get lost in the finite – An individual mindlessly follows a “predetermined” course of action, assuming there are no other options or paths to choose from. For illustrations of this trap, I will display this philosophy in that of an individual trying to decide what they should do with their life/what career they should take. This individual is named John.
John is your average Joe and he was born and raised a middle-class citizen. John’s great-grandfather was a cobbler, and like his great-grandfather, his grandfather was too a cobbler. Unsurprisingly, his father decided to follow in their footsteps and become a cobbler as well. His whole family is a family of cobblers that respectfully value hard work. They live comfortably. Now, John is also from a small town and hasn’t really seen the world. He was raised practicing the craft of shoe-making, and as a result, John too believed that without a shadow-of-a-doubt that he would be a cobbler for the rest of his life, after all, that’s what his family does. No ifs, ands, or buts about it – John knew what he was born to do. In fact, he never questioned the possibility of doing anything different with his life.
John is lost in the finite.
John, like many, follows the well-beaten path instead of paving his own. The scariest part is that he is doing this subconsciously, so it is almost impossible for him to become aware that he is even lost in the finite in the first place. Like John, you too might think you were born to do something and never question the other infinite possibilities that are there for the taking. You too have the potential to do something totally radical with your life and truly make the most of it. Now, maybe John was truly born to be a cobbler, who knows? Not John, because he hasn’t taken the time to explore other options, to arouse other passions and develop other skill sets.
Why am I writing this?
I believe it is every person’s duty to themselves to think for themselves and wrestle with the freedom that every individual possesses. Freedom is beautiful but also a burden. The freedom of choice can become daunting to the individual, so to relieve that pressure, they subconsciously divert to a course of action that removes the necessity for them to think critically for themselves. This path of least resistance is also the path where you lose yourself as an individual. Once you give up the burden of freedom you are, in a sense, no longer your own free-thinking individual. In a certain light, you are now only a product of the system. And at that point, are you truly living? I argue that no, you aren’t. To truly live it is important to accept the “burden” of freedom, the “burden” of choice, and critically decide what you want to do with your life. By devoting energy to discovering what truly makes you come alive and choosing a career that aligns with your individual values and passions, you will, in turn, live a life of greater fulfillment.
So are you lost in the finite?
It’s time to get out, it is time to open your mind to the endless possibilities of what life has to offer and take action. Just try stuff, devote your time and energy to exploring your interests and passions with the mindset that anything is possible. I promise the devotion to true self-discovery is by far the most rewarding thing you will ever do.