Changing path is not a failure, but a strength

It’s been a while I haven’t been writing on here, and I know the reason why.

Ever since my last post, in November 2016, I’ve been in a complicated and pretty stressful process of changing path. It’s been a bumpy road, but now that I’m back on tracks, I can say that what I saw as a failure has become a strength. Let’s start from the beginning.

Last year, in September, I was starting a masters’ degree in philosophy at King’s College London. I had just graduated in University of Geneva, where my philosophy teachers where passionate, motivating and brilliant. They had made me think of following an academic research path, by doing a M.A. followed by a P.h.D. I was fully motivated by that choice when I arrived in London.

It lasted a month.

After a few weeks, I was slowly starting to lose interest. I had only 6 hours of class a week. None of the subjects interested me fully. The way of thinking and interacting was not the same as in Geneva. I had lost the vibe that had made me love philosophy so much, and that was probably specific to the department in Geneva.

Moreover, London was too big. Too fast. I was overwhelmed. London is a great city, but I’m persuaded that one must have a specific reason to live there, in order to enjoy it. If you don’t have a precise goal that you wish to realise in that city, you’ll get lost. That’s what happened to me. Soon, I had no idea why I was there anymore, as my studies were my only reason to go to London and I wasn’t enjoying them as much as I should’ve.

In February, I decided to stop my degree. It took me a few months to be sure that it was the right decision, but then I knew I had to do something. It wasn’t getting better. I passed the first semester’s exams, got my grades, and went back to Geneva.

“You could force yourself to finish, it’s only one full year”, “It’s one of the best universities in the world, it would be sad not to finish your degree”, “Are you sure you won’t regret?”, people were advising me, and most of them were skeptical.

But I found the strength in myself, to not give a fuck. It was hard, but I was following my instinct. I wasn’t happy in London, and it couldn’t stay that way. Even though it was only for 6 more months.

In March and April, I took some time to think. It soon appeared as an evidence that I had to try studying law, as it was already an idea back in high school. I could always come back to philosophy later. I had acquired the basic tools, and they would always be helpful, even in law studies. So I applied in law at university of Geneva.

I also wrote a lot.

From May to August, I’ve been travelling. First, I spent a month in Berlin to get a bit of my German back. Then I took the transsiberian train through Russia, Mongolia and China. That travel deserves its own post. And I came back to Geneva, ready to start studying again. All over again.

Now, I am enjoying law. Everything is very new and there is a lot to learn, but my previous studies help me so much. I can see how my analytical and research skills make it a lot faster for me to apprehend the legal bases and organise them. Moreover, I have a critical way of thinking about laws, thanks to philosophy. For example, many words used in laws are not well defined, therefore their extension – the things that fall under that definition- is not clear. That could be improved. Also, the logic we’ve worked with in philosophy is broadly the same as the one used for developing legal syllogism. It’s interesting to see that in law, they are not as strictly respectful of the rules of logic as analytical philosophers would be.

All in all, I’m starting to see that having studied different subjects is a real advantage. I am proud to have found the strength to listen to my instinct and to stop my degree without culpability, because I knew that it was better for me (even though society did not objectively think it was a good choice). I had lost my path for a few months, but after getting lost, what a pleasure it was to feel back on tracks again. More than that, I don’t see this whole experience as a failure, but as a short detour that gave me time to listen to my needs and wishes.

The sinuous road might be longer than the highway, but you can see beautiful things on the way and get to know the surroundings a bit better. And in the end, you’ll get to the same place as those who took the highway. So don’t be afraid to take your time.

– The Dilettante