Cats and Theories
a blog by coticheque
a blog by coticheque

December mental update

Life is freakin’ rough. This wave of anxiety persistently comes every December. Am I wasting my time? The clock is ticking, the past increases. Future recedes, opportunities decreasing, regrets mounting. Am I supposed to acknowledge or remain ignorant? And look at everyone around being so accomplished. Staying sane requires an insane effort. Just in order to be in one place, you have to run as fast as you can.

On the first sight, this anxiety seems to be driven by external factors. Psychologically speaking, it’s important to keep up with penultimate level of the Maslow pyramid – the inherent human need for social recognition. We tend to compare ourselves to our immediate social circle. The problem is that this circle is dynamic, and people are busy with doing stuff. So at one moment, you find yourself surrounded by entrepreneurs with funded startups in the area of AI, real estate moguls with a massive property portfolio, crypto-millionaires with stakes in a dozen of digital projects (it’s horrifying to learn that apparently you can do venture capital investments through such a shady thing as ICOs, and even be profitable if you do it full-time). To keep up with such a social circle, you have to run, as fast as you can. After all, our sanity depends on the Maslow pyramid, and mental machinery is a merciless tool.

In theory, it’s supposed to be motivating to see that opportunities exist. Lol, sure. In reality, it’s hard not to feel miserable from not pursuing these opportunities – preferably all of them simultaneously. One method of psychological protection which is perhaps used by everyone unconsciously is a construction of tailor-made social hierarchies. It’s easy to invent a hierarchy of superiority customized in such a way that its inventor is placed on top. And yes, it must be a basic human need to feel oneself on top of at least some hierarchy. Think of what you have and others don’t. I do have a moderately-successful corporate career, while others don’t. Losers. I don’t have a corporate career? Not a big deal. These corporate employees waste their time working for a salary, without owning their own time and assets. Despicable slaves. All I do is reading books, and they don’t even read 20 books per year? Retards. The variations of hierarchical domination are endless. Society makes us horrible.

External motivations don’t seem to be entirely self-sustainable. However, upon a closer examination, December anxiety no longer seems to be driven by external factors exclusively. There’s one more component to it. Various people call it differently: the inner voice of conscience, Socratic daimōn, Heidegger’s voice of Dasein, Nietzsche’s becoming who you are. These phenomena are internal by definition.

Conscience is a powerful tool of correcting one’s course in life. My personal achievement of this year was to finally live in agreement with it. Having a moderately successful career, good work-life balance, financial security, supportive family, and a beautiful apartment was not enough to feel good (whether it can ever be enough is a different question). Somehow most people seem to find it sufficient to be happy and procreate. I didn’t. What was needed is to accept this fact, and acknowledge that middle-class mindset and a petty bourgeois lifestyle are despicable. And then – work on moving in a different direction. I’ll write a separate post about it. Many ideas are already described here. In any case, I’ve never felt better than after acknowledging this fact.

Speaking of mental processes, there’s one more thing to them. What usually aggravates the anxiety even more is the fact that we tend to extrapolate the current state of being into the permanency of the future. This is why I always experienced an unexplainable dread when meeting 40-year old people whose life is just like my own at 28, but with a mortgage and perhaps a couple more lines in CV – but fundamentally similar. It’s like seeing a potential scenario of the future, where absolutely nothing happens in between the current moment and 10 years from now on. Reminds me of Heidegger’s idea of death as a final contraction of all opportunities, where every day is just like a little death, as it decreases the scope of our potentiality. I feel the same dread when I hear news about people of my age starting to have kids. In most cases (of course there’re exceptions), it implies the end of extra time and energy resources needed to accomplish something significantly distinct. It’s more reasonable to start projects with the highest potential (at least at the seed stage!) before this massive loss. Especially when you’re a woman.

Anyway, days go by, the past increases. The human condition is stressful. Especially in December. My only advice for the next year is to prioritize internal motivation over external, and take your conscience seriously before it’s too late.

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