Capitalist Acid Trip Intellectual Oddysey
a guest Oct 14th, 2019 81 Never
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- So I'm just thinking out loud here... using the discord as kind of a scratchpad for a note to myself.
- Right now I'm at something of a crossroads in my life where there's a few different directions I can go down, all of which I'm fairly confident about - but I need to decide sooner or later and quite possibly will not have this level of freedom a few years from now.
- Back in university my career goal was very simple: become a tech entrepreneur. I loved building things, learning about business, researching different opportunities and I loved the whole entrepreneurial ethos. I graduated age 23 and joined a start-up accelerator in London (London is not quite silicon valley but it's considered a "secondary" tech hub, like new york). Had a very interesting experience but didn't get anywhere, mainly due to co-founder conflicts (which I hear is very very common in startups). I concluded I needed to gain a clearer idea of what I wanted to do, went away and worked for 18 months to save money, quit my job to work on another startup - then had a terrible experience with my cofounder (in brief, I realised in hindsight they BS'd me into working with them, then derailed my plans). After that I fell into working for a friend's startup, then quit that just before I turned 26, feeling kinda burned out.
- I took some time out to travel and during that time off got deeply into Objectivism. I'd also been reading deeply into different ideas online during the few years prior, so I could immediately see the value of Obj'ism. And I'd previously had the idea that I wanted to do more writing, and AR's articles inspired me to consider some kind of intellectual career, which I thought might be a better fit for my talents than entrepreneurship. And I was burned out from technology and programming in general, so it seemed like a promising course.
- ... so I returned to the UK, decided to do some freelance programming work while I figured out my next steps (as the money was good). I was in high spirits after discovering Obj'ism and thinking about all the possibilities it opened up.
- But after returning I had some unfortunate experiences. I had a major falling out with the co-founder I'd worked with a year prior, which was a major emotional blow (felt like a huge betrayal at the time), and also made me realize that I hadn't actually taken a real swing at building my own startup. A huge part of me wanted to give up technology for writing, but it felt lame to give up startups without a real attempt, especially as the decision had been taken out of my hands. Whatever, I was in an OK position at that point, and my plan was to save money from freelancing, join the OAC program of ARI, and then have the freedom to do what I wanted. I was pretty exhausted from programming but thought i could hold on for a few more months to get into a better position.
- (Don't worry, this story will not go on too much longer).
- And then over the next 6 months my freelancing client repeatedly stiffed me over invoices, ARI proved to be super disorganized and kinda lame, I started to develop a major rift with my father and a bunch of other stuff happened. So I found myself age 27.5 with not much savings and lots of emotional conflicts.
- So I decided to get a full time job as a software developer, which was not too bad (I found somewhere interesting to work), but I was working there with all these buried emotional issues. And approaching 30 without having pursued any of my original career ambitions. And working a job that I could have done 3 years prior (i.e. making no progress). So I was insanely frustrated, which ironically made it harder to get anything done.
- I quit that job after just over a year, now with a ton of savings I (now age about 29) decided to travel for a bit and then work on one of my many entrepreneurial ideas (of which Obj'ism had helped me greatly in developing). Many of my peers had launched successful companies, or become managers at startups, or whatever, so I was itching to get started. But ... I quickly realized that i really was not motivated to start a software business. I still had to resolve lots of the emotional conflicts I had. Fortunately I liked being out in Asia and could live for a long time cheaply in backpacker hostels etc.
- And I ended up doing that for a long time, because I realised my psychology was way more screwed up than I realised, and I had a ton of repressed anger.
- At this point I was practically no contact with my father, had limited contact with my mum, had cut several toxic friends out of my life, had been disillusioned by both the world of startups and Obj'ism... and I was approaching 30 without much to show for it. But I won't make this too much of a sob story, because as I kept integrating my thoughts and emotions my subconscious kept getting clearer and clearer, my motivation began going up, my daily mood was overall pretty good, and I started to develop better relationships with friends who I could keep in touch with via IM.
- To round the story off a couple of months ago I turned 30, over the last couple of months I finally began to resolve lots of my screwed up emotions (e.g., I was frequently angry... I needed to identify why I was angry and validate it). Now my mind is pretty consistently clear, solid and integrated, and so I can take a mountain-top view and look at my life over the last few years and the wider world.
- I'm more and more thinking that I will focus on writing and other intellectual projects, especially focused on things like history, world cultures, geopolitics, etc, basically "understanding the world" in general. An inspiring, ambitious project which ties together many of my interest areas (I spend hours daily reading about such topics) and is also well-suited to being integrated with Obj'ism. I wanna figure out, for example, how DIM is playing out in different cultures around the world, or how other cultural/etc trends intersect.
- The main thing that still bugs me is... I've spent a ton of time learning knowledge and skills in programming, business, etc... and it seems lame to never have really applied that to my original career goals. Dishonorable, maybe? As in, I respect people who tried and failed to launch a business, whereas my own plans were aborted very early on. I was also a very strong CS student, and it seems weird to give up that skillset without really applying it.
- If I had to predict my own future, I'd guess that I will end up focusing on intellectual work (i.e., doing independent research and writing) for the next few years, maybe with the occasional freelance software dev contract to keep money coming in. Idk though. It is also really obvious to me that I would not have been able to figure out my career direction even a year ago, because my emotional state was way too screwed up. So I needed the time off just to clear my head before I could decide the direction for the next few years.
- Why am I sharing this? Idk, I mainly find it easier to compose my thoughts if there's an imaginary audience, plus I thought other Objectivists may find it of interest.
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