Anne-Laure wrote about having time anxiety:
Quarter life crisis
Many people around age 26-30 get a quarter life crisis. It usually happens after you've graduated university, have been working for a few years and start getting the itching feeling "is this it?". You then might feel lack of meaning in your life, start getting panic attacks, feeling tense all day, get derealization as if you're living in the Matrix or some simulated reality, depression and insomnia from thinking too much. Also an obsession with your age and goals you need to hit before a certain age is common. Many people also call it Saturn Return, it's like a late 20s rite of passage:
In horoscopic astrology, a Saturn return is an astrological transit that occurs when the planet Saturn returns to the same place in the sky that it occupied at the moment of a person's birth. While the planet may not reach the exact spot until the person is 29 or 30 years old, the influence of the Saturn return is considered to start in the person's late twenties, notably the age of 27.
I got this too. And relatedly, I used to have severe anxiety about this stuff before my quarter life crisis.
Like most late 20s people of this generation having a quarter life crisis, I was terrified of death, my time remaining and what to do with it.
If we die anyway, why does anything matter anyway? I tried to avoid answering this question by becoming extremely ambitious, working really hard and trying to get successful. I though if I just did that, I'd optimize my time in the most useful way and somehow that'd matter.
But of course, it doesn't work that way. It just made things worse.
It took years for my anxiety to mostly go away and ironically what caused me most of my crisis was also what solved it: the realization that nothing matters.
You can approach the nihilism of that in a positive or negative way. Negatively that means whatever you do, it doesn't matter, so you can just as well do nothing. Positively it means whatever you do, it doesn't matter, so you can now just enjoy the thing you do intrinsically. Not for the end purpose. So that's what I do now, I'm here just to enjoy the ride.
A lot of people from my generation are obsessed with legacy. Like "leaving their mark on the world" or "changing the world". Especially in tech. Since tech is everyone now, essentially everyone from my generation.
I think this is highly related to this search for meaning. Before atheism we had religion and before religion we had superstition. Religion and superstition gave us meaning to do things. Religion would get you to heaven after death and we'd use superstition as a "belief in supernatural causation leading to certain consequences of an action or event". If you have none of those, legacy is one of the last remaining obvious reasons to do things. You'll be remembered for your actions!
But will you, really?
People will probably have forgotten you and your achievements within a generation or two.
Even if you start a successful company, the average life span of a S&P 500 company is less than 20 years. It'll either fail, be bought up, merged and renamed.
And if you get super famous, you'll probably be forgotten too within 100 years. How many famous people from 100 years ago do you know now? Not a lot.
105 billion people were born before us, and how many historic figures are there? Maybe hundreds, maybe thousands? So your odds of being remembered is something like 1,000 famous historic people divided by (105,000,000,000 people ever lived + 7 billion people currently living) = 0.000000892857% percent or a 1 in 112,000,000 chance.
Even then, we're only counting the human people who lived until now. That's incredibly microscopic odds.
And even then, you'll be dead. How can you enjoy your legacy, when you're dead?
So what's left if:
- you're not superstitious
- you're not religious
- we just debunked the odds that you'll be remembered for your legacy
Well yes, intrinsic motivation and meaning. Enjoying the ride and whatever you do for the thing itself.
Just enjoy your tea and a cookie. And be nice to the people around you. That's all there is. Everything else is just filling time.
— My dad
P.S. I'm on Twitter too if you'd like to follow more of my stories. And I wrote a book called MAKE about building startups without funding. See a list of my stories or contact me. To get an alert when I write a new blog post, you can subscribe below: