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How to know what you really want

From career choices to new purchases, use René Girard’s mimetic theory to resist the herd and forge your own path in life

Need to know

Claire, a smart, ambitious student at Tulane University in Louisiana, was on track to have her pick of law schools, but she decided she’d like to get some real-world experience – and have some fun – in New Orleans first. She landed a job as a paralegal, spending her days researching expert witnesses to defend Big Pharma cases, and that’s when the crisis came. Claire had always loved cooking and learning about humanity through cuisine. She was like a female Anthony Bourdain trapped inside an overworked paralegal, and it was slowly making her life miserable.

She began to entertain thoughts of leaving the law firm and working in a kitchen or a coffee shop until she could figure out how to make a career out of her lifelong interest in food. But doubts haunted her. What would other people think? Maybe she’s not that drivenMaybe she’s not that smart, after all. Maybe she’s lazy. What other people expected her to want to do – and her ability to meet those expectations – began to determine her self-worth.

Many people face dilemmas like Claire’s. Each of us is occasionally overwhelmed by a multitude of competing desires: pursue job offer A or B? Start a new relationship or stay single? Sign up to run a marathon, or enjoy not getting up early to train? But life is full of marathons, and they don’t necessarily involve running. It’s good to know which desires to pursue and which ones to leave behind – to know which marathons are worth running. In this Guide, I aim to show you how.

Read more here.

Originally published on 15 December 2021 at PSYCHE.


Mimetic Desire 101

What is Mimetic Desire? Nearly everyone (unconsciously) assumes there’s a straight line between them and the things they want. >>

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