A Simple Piece Of Advice From A Genius – Hunter S Thompson On The Meaning Of Life

Coming out of college and into the ‘real’ world is quite odd. When you’re in school there is always something coming up. There is always a break or holiday. Students will always look forward to mid-term break, or Christmas and Summer holidays or even reading week, where no one actually reads, they just go out and get drunk. And so for me coming out of that is very odd because I am used to having that mentality. I am accustomed to looking forward to that break and counting down the days until it comes. But now that isn’t the case, I don’t have a break or holiday coming up. I don’t have a countdown of months or years left until I graduate, I just have the rest of my life to try and make into something that I am proud of.

The majority of people who work regular jobs even would look forward to the weekend, where they can kick their feet up and have a beer. I don’t even have that. Granted it’s a choice that I am making to work as much as I can right now and I don’t want to come across as complaining about that, I’m not. It’s just a very odd sensation. Sometimes it is very frightening and intimidating (something Hunter Thompson would refer to as ‘the fear’), as I have little experience living like this, but I try to make that intimidation push me further.


One of my favourite authors is Hunter S Thompson. He was actually my inspiration to begin writing. In one of his essays he reflects on a letter he wrote to a friend of his when he was in his mid-twenties. His friend had asked him what he thought of the meaning of life. A cliche and an overused phrase I know, but Hunters response struck home with me.

“When you were young, let us say that you wanted to be a fireman. I feel reasonably safe in saying that you no longer want to be a fireman. Why? Because your perspective has changed. It’s not the fireman who has changed, but you. Every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every significant experience alters your perspective….”

“…So we do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES….”

“…But don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean that we can’t BE firemen, bankers, or doctors — but that we must make the goal conform to the individual, rather than make the individual conform to the goal. In every man, heredity and environment have combined to produce a creature of certain abilities and desires — including a deeply ingrained need to function in such a way that his life will be MEANINGFUL. A man has to BE something; he has to matter”

What this literary genius meant was that you must strive to make your career fit your life rather than your life for your career. As we are students of life, we are constantly learning and improving (for the most part), and in the era of information where we have a library of Alexandra in our pockets, we are constantly bombarded with information and most of the time this will lead to information overload, where we don’t know what to do or even what to think.


I think most people will follow the path of least resistance, even though they may want something else. For some people going to college is a complete waste of time, now I know not a lot of the people reading this will agree with this, but although college opens you up to lots of opportunities, so does the internet. The internet has a reputation for being a place where teenagers post photos and waste their lives watching videos of cats. But there is a good and bad side to everything, and I think most people overlook the incredible potential that a globally interconnected network of computers can hold for the average person.

Going to college will also limit you to one particular field. As HST has said, we must strive to be ourselves, and if we are constantly changing and growing then we should not limit ourselves to something that we may like today but might get bored of in the future.


4 thoughts on “A Simple Piece Of Advice From A Genius – Hunter S Thompson On The Meaning Of Life

  1. Phenomenal post, fantastic advice from Thompson. And so, so true. Everything we desire in life is meant to reveal something about ourselves.

    We desire identity most of all. To be the most authentic version of ourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Appreciate tha and thanks for reading! Yes that is very true, that can be seen today with all the controversy over identity politics. People want to be unique and desire an identity that themselves and others can connect with. Hunter Thompson certainly had his own unique identity that he was completely unashamed of.

      Liked by 1 person

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