Optimistic Nihilism

Optimistic Nihilism

Samantha Bell, Editor

Nothing matters, we are only here for a short period of time anyways, so why stress the small stuff? Optimistic nihilism “views the belief that there is no underlying meaning to life from a perspective of hope” (Laves-Webb). 

This attitude can lead a multitude of different ways, and it’s all up to individuals to decide if this philosophy works for them and how to apply it to their life. Some find this idea comforting, the idea “brings hope, it makes things that seem big and scary not so scary,” said an anonymous senior at Taylorsville High. 

On top of bringing hope to people the idea of optimistic nihilism can empower some. “It does motivate me in knowing that I can create my own purpose and meaning,” said freshman Amy Watkins. The meaning of life is up to you, and you can create your own motivation, purpose, and happiness in your lifetime. 

However, for others the idea is overwhelming and constricting. “I’m scared to know that in the end all of my efforts result in nothing, nobody will remember me,” said Jane Addison, real name withheld

This idea isn’t all black and white, there are parts of optimistic nihilism that bring me and others hope, but applying this idea to all parts of life can make the good things you do feel meaningless. “Everyone is tiny in history.. Any bad thing I do won’t matter, but every good thing I do will be forgotten,” said junior Mick Brock. 

“I’m neutral with it. Even if there isn’t any meaning to life, the happiness you can give and get in life gives me reason to keep living,” said sophomore John Patterson, real name withheld. 

It all just depends on your life experiences, how you view your efforts towards the world, and what matters most to you. Personally, optimistic nihilism is an attitude that I apply to my daily life, and at times it is a lot to think about, but at others it helps me to take a step back from what is stressing me out. “It upsets me to hear that I’m insignificant, but if everyone else is to, then that’s fine” said Jane Addison real name withheld, “If this is the case then that means that Jeff Bezos is nothing compared to me and that actually makes me happy.” 

Applying optimistic nihilism has been around for a really long time, but recently this idea has picked up followers since the pandemic started. For a lot of people the pandemic has shown people that their nine-to-five jobs are meaningless, or that getting straight A’s in high school really doesn’t matter. What dictates that we need a piece of paper to get anywhere in life, and why do we have to get anywhere in life? Stepping back from what society has taught us to be important urges us to  evaluate what is important to us. If we only have a small amount of time on earth then does any of this really matter? 

If none of this matters, then why should I be upset over a breakup, or an argument with a friend. Will the emotions you feel in the moment fade over to the next day, or the day after that? Will the fight that you are having with someone matter on your deathbed? Or will you remember living your life the way you wanted and not wasting your life sitting at a desk working a boring nine-to-five. Make core memories, you’ll remember those on your deathbed. Feel the sadness, grief, anxiety, etc but don’t let it overcome you, you don’t want to look back on these years and see the sadness that overcame you, you’ll want to see the good, the risks you took, the friends you made.