Sartre’s Take

In season three, Emily in Paris proved that a light show can still make a deep point. While constantly torn between her boyfriend and her job, Emily is asked to translate a quote from existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre in her French class: “Ne pas choisir, c’est encore choisir” — “Not choosing is still choosing.”

Being the quirky, relentless American that she is, Emily naturally asks for an answer to an impossible question: “But how do we know we’re making the right choice?” Surprisingly, her teacher actually provides one, and it might be the answer not just to Emily’s question but to all of life: “To Sartre there was no right or wrong. You simply choose with conviction and live your life.” Of course, later in the episode, Emily fails to do just that, and, as expected, consequences still ensue.

In a world where choice is infinite, choosing can be the hardest thing to do. Yet, since we know that, in an endless sea of options, there must be one that works for us, choosing is also the right thing to do. There is nothing worse than standing between hay and water, unsure whether to eat or drink, ultimately starving.

Making a decision, any decision, will always incur a loss of freedom, but being able to pick our responsibilities rather than having them handed to us is the ultimate luxury.

Choose with conviction. Live your life. Whether you’re an existentialist philosopher or a young expat trying to make it in the world of fashion, happiness is reserved for those who choose to choose.