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By Blakely Gibeaut

The air is getting colder, the nights are getting darker, the snow is beginning to fall, and the holidays can’t come any quicker. Finals season is amidst us and there is one thing that is becoming increasingly difficult: waking up. Waking up in the morning is already strenuous as a college student, but once winter comes around it seems all I want is to sleep in. So I ask, what gets you up in the morning? Is it class, is it pure motivation, is it your alarm or is it nothing? The answer to this question is plentiful, but there is one I recently came across that seems to be the key to happiness- and that is the ancient concept known as Ikigai.

Ikigai is a Japanse term made up of two words: Iki and gai. Iki means life, gai means value/worth- and together they roughly translate to ‘reason for being’. This concept dates back to as early as 794 in the Heian period of Japanese history. At the core of its meaning, Ikigai promotes a balance of life that is found when your passions and talents meet the things that the world needs and will pay for. This lifestyle is a balance that many entrepreneurs have begun to notice, and may apply to college students as well.

College is a time of growth, new horizons, parties (lots of them) and hopefully where the question, “What am I going to do with my life?” is answered. The answer to that question is guided by things that Ikigai embodies- such as your passions, talents, and your goals in life. A big part of this answer though, is something that deters what Ikigai promotes: Money. There seem to be a crossroads in deciding your career path where you choose: This is what will bring me meaning, or this is what will bring me money. Following Ikigai is deciding not either-or, but rather that these things can be connected and that nothing is siloed.

So, as the finals approach, and it is becoming harder and harder to wake up in the morning- consider Ikigai. To discover your own Ikigia, first consider: What am I most passionate about? Once you have found the answer, then you can find the medium through which you express that passion. Ikigai is essentially a realization that your career, passion, and monetary desires are not separate- but that they are all connected. This isn’t easy; but is something that if given enough consideration, can ultimately lead to a more fulfilling, happy life.



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