What is the meaning of life? Afraid of becoming an adult...

Hi monkeys, 
I am having some tough weeks and would like to get your advice. I am a rising junior at a top target and I signed like 2 months ago an offer for a top group at EB for next summer, and as the stress of recruiting went away, I started to become very sad. I used to be so happy about my offer once I got it and signed but as I went back to the town I was raised in for the summer (middle of nowhere, none has ever heard of banking) I started to think about life be sad for a few reasons: 

-I realized that even tho I signed for an awesome group, I will be very hard to make a difference in the world (many other analysts were in that group before me and we have never heard from them)
-If it will be very hard to make a difference in the world, what should our goals be? have a nice family/have a great career/help people?
-I realized that besides a very very small group of people I cannot get validation for my job, I don't even tell my HS friends what I am doing with my career since they would not care/understand. I think this makes me sad because I have worked so hard for something for such a long time and 99.99% of people do not understand the work I/we all put in. 
-I realized I am scared by being an adult - I think that having an offer made me realize that being an adult will come soon and I am not sure I am ready. Even tho I understand I am lucky for being on track for a career that will make me financially comfortable I am scared about so many things: where will I be in 20 years, who will I marry, will I have kids, where will I work, will I be happy/satisfied?
-I realized I am kinda alone, my parents passed away when I was a kid, and I have no real friends from back home and very few good friends from college. I really hope my intern class will be good and I will make great friendships and hopefully soon find a girlfriend for the long run. 

I am not looking for any answers in particular but I would appreciate it if other people could share some advice on how to approach this situation/becoming an adult 

Comments (70)

livingOVO, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Your life is short. You are just a small sentence in the book of life. Do the most that you can to make the story great for everyone who comes after you.

Also enjoy the hell out of everyday.

IncomingIBDreject, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What does your username mean?


Nightman Cometh, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I dont think I've ever interacted with you so hello, but I really need to know too because whenever I read your username I think of something some eastern european would say in broken english in a porno when she acts surprised to see the pool guy is rock hard. I am so confident this wasn't the inspiration but if it was I be both very proud and ashamed of myself.

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IncomingIBDreject, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Bump, following up on this 


  • Intern in PE - LBOs

Definitely consider taking acid, it is perfect for answering these kinds of questions. It helps you think about what you value in life and face hard truths. I am not joking.

  • Intern in AM - Equities

Tempting but scared of a bad trip :/ (not op here)

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A

Don't do it lol. Just don't do it. There is very little upside but tremendous downside to ingesting any kind of drugs for recreational use

  • Intern in IB-M&A

Terrible advice. Please don't do acid as that is something that can legitimately fuck you up if you even do it just once. Stick to weed or smth. I promise smoking a blunt won't kill you, but one trip legitimately might.

irie, what's your opinion? Comment below:

OP, experienced psychonaut here, don't believe this tool, show me an incidence where someone has died from the toxicity of LSD and not from doing something retarded. meth, fentanyl, coke, etc., all have levels of toxicity that could literally kill you, LSD does not, so that's false. in fact, from a toxicity standpoint, LSD and psilocybin are among the safest substances out there, safer than alcohol and marijuana

NOW, I'd never recommend someone do psychedelics without someone trustworthy to guide them through their maiden voyage, and I'd also never do a dose from someone who's not tried that batch before or from an unknown source. quantity matters, and you don't want to take 5 tabs when you thought you were taking 1, if you're not ready for a big journey it could freak you out

that said, many of my best non-sober experiences have been on LSD or psilocybin. from times chillin at the beach by myself to wandering through beautiful scenery (including the met on a sunday morning with no crowds), to exactly what the other bro recommended - having the LSD/psilo be the internal conversation starter for your existential self

finally, whoever said there's little upside and tremendous downside to ingesting ANY kind of drugs recreationally, show me your evidence, because I say your classification is too broad. heroin has a poor risk/reward, but weed doesn't unless you're schizophrenic. LSD doesn't. psilo doesn't. caffeine doesn't. I'd argue alcohol has a poorer risk/reward than LSD or psilo, and I'm talking about the actual toxicity of the drug, not experientially because that's dependent upon the individual. so quit with the jeff sessions/DARE nonsense that is patently false




TLDR - anyone who says the least toxic illegal substances are deadly is retarded, I don't recommend anyone do anything without a lot of careful thought and an experienced guide, and the worst downside of doing psychedelics is that you'll be introspective and find it difficult to engage in conversation about petty bullshit but instead be focused on these bigger questions (even if there aren't answers, the questioning is still fun)

just trying to live like Hunter S Thompson

  • 11
  • Intern in PE - LBOs

Acid is far less toxic than weed and has decades of research showing its therapeutic effects. You sound like you are reciting a middle school Say No To Drugs video. Grow up.

Anonymous244729, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hey man, first off congrats on all that you have accomplished to date in your well. Definitely think you deserve some recognition and praise for that. Thank you, good job. Next, hang in there man. What you are going through sounds like it may be tough but hopefully things can get better soon for you. I think we are all in the same boat together in trying to figure out this thing called life lol. Not sure if I have an answer for you today or may ever have one but in the meantime I hope you can relax, enjoy a little bit. Hopefully appreciate the blessings you do have to the extent possible and I hope the rest will work out soon for you friend. I'm happy to chat and/or be helpful if I can. Good luck to you and best wishes. Wishing you all the best! :)

not sure if you need to be afraid of becoming an adult. It's a slow process. I remember when I interviewed for the top EB SA gig I got I spoke with one of the VPs (who is now an MD there) about what I wanted to do with my life. I was thinking maybe law schools, etc. spoke to him about it during interview and he told me like, "Bro I'm a VP here, like married with kids and I still don't know what I want to do with my life" lol I thought that was a nice humanizing and relatable thing for him to say. I still remember that now over 7 years later and still keep in touch with him a bit. Point is, who knows, life can be big, long, have ups and downs and sometimes can be, unfortunately or fortunately for whatever reason, very, very short. Hopefully you are able to try to appreciate it one day / little bit at a time. Sounds like you've worked hard and maybe need some well-deserved rest. From what I have seen, I think in time your friends and those around you (who may very well become friends with you in the future) will come to be in awe and give you immense respect for what you have already accomplished. You may just be ahead of them in appreciating what it means to do the kind of work you and people on here do. I've found even some of the "dumbest" kids from my high school, middle school, random trip or whatever, have come over time to really be amazed and respect the industry we are in / around here. Again, my best wishes to you. Hopefully you can see brighter days ahead and every challenge you've faced until now will be seen as worth it somehow, someway. Best wishes again. Hopefully good news for all of us soon…

Anonymous244729, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you want a short, snippy quote, here is something my dad told me one time not too long ago:

"Help others and enjoy life"

Most Helpful
Nightman Cometh, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I was in your shoes a few years ago--really concerned about life after graduation and working my first job, basically the official stamp of adulthood. But then I started doing it and things didn't feel that different. It's weird tbh, like I really gassed myself up for life to be so different, and even with a tough banking job, life really felt kinda similar to how it used to. Time still moved by quickly. Now 3 years into the misery of investment banking but still holding on to try to make MD one day, I have a different outlook and am a lot more comfortable and casual with how I see my life.

Honestly when it comes to "life", I just wanna surround myself with people I love, from my family to my amazing friends, to hopefully one day a woman I can settle down and have a bunch of little shits with. It's just an adventure, like I'm driving down a road and people hop on and off over time, and they all add their brushstroke to the canvas that is me--the person I am. And when I die, I want that metaphorical canvas to be covered in tons of different colors. Ferris said it best, in that life moves pretty fast, and sometimes you gotta stop and look around once in a while, or else you might miss it. I'm here for the fun of it--I wanna laugh my ass off, I wanna get fucked up, have good sex, see the world, I wanna help someone have a better day or life, I wanna do shit that would make my parents proud and shit that wouldn't. I wanna cry of joy and celebration at what the future may hold, and cry tears of pain at loss because that means that the thing I lost really meant something special when I had it.

When I die, I want my family and friends to be smiling and laughing at the shit I did and celebrate me for doing it my way. There is no meaning of life homie, life is what you make of it. It's what you put in and what you get out. We all in this shit together--even though I'm not a fan of English football/soccer (forza Italia), gotta quote Liverpool here and say you'll never walk alone. You may feel alone now, but just take some risks and put yourself out there. When you have misses, it'll suck, but when you have hits, it rocks. Shit can change pretty quick, for better or for worse. Good luck out there bud, hope you have some killer stories to tell in a decade or two!

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odog808, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Nobody will really give a shit about you except you close friends and family. As such, take care of those close to you and if you can, grow your circle of care, but protect the core. Your friends' ignorance of your career is perfectly ok, be happy with them.  Likely in your career, you will find yourself without a job and you'll see that you only have human value to a select few people, cherish them.

Have compassion as well as ambition and you’ll go far in life
  • 2
AlwaysChasingTail, what's your opinion? Comment below:

For me the meaning of life is to dedicate myself to everything I choose to do and to do it to the best of my current ability. This can be my job, painting, music, relationships, diet, training. I find it very gratifying to know for myself that I went all out and left nothing in reserve. Consequently, the objective end result doesn't really matter to me because at that point it isn't in my control anymore, and I find peace in that. 

I'm from Europe 

EatClenTrenHard, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It appears you're doing everything for extrinsic reasons… focus more on yourself. Do things that make you happy. Then you won't desire the extrinsic validation. At the end of the day, that's what matters most.

Side note, the older you get and the more established you become in the space.. your network of friends in similar roles will grow. Old friends will fade out.. new will come in.. and the new will understand and be able to relate to where you're at. The early 20's are bumpy, but congrats on the role. It sounds like you're off to a great start. Good luck.

  • 3
CanadianEnergyBanker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It seems to be, get a job with a wage that current homeowners can only dream of. Pay them 5-7x levered MOIC for their shitty bungalow. Pay off mortgage for the next 30 years. Die alone and depressed. But we'll see....

  • Intern in IB-M&A

I'm just now starting as an analyst so not much older than you, but definitely work towards your non-professional goals. You have half of college left still for friends and relationships if you choose. You can do a lot in two years, but if you look at it as just another day closer to starting your first job, then that day will come really fast and you'll wonder wtf even happened with the past two years. I felt kinda similar after getting my FT offer and the realization of "oh shit its almost time to be an adult" hit pretty hard but I enjoyed my senior year as much as I could for what it was rather than just viewing it as passing time for something real to start. 

Freighttrain, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Choose a religion/belief system that you actually believe in. Also, you would be surprised how many ripple effects every action you take has on history.

  • Intern in IB - Gen

Really agree with what [Nightman Cometh] said above.

To add though, when I see people who're the most fulfilled they generally have two commonalities:

1) They're building/creating

2) They live by the phrase "momento mori"

Before I dive into number one, I want to be clear: number one has nothing to do with prestige or being "known as a master in your craft". To me, number one just means you're producing/building/creating in your life far more than you consume. Examples of this could range from building better relationships/friendships, building a business, building your career, building your body (working out, competing), building your intelligence (reading, writing, learning new skills). Basically, instead of spending your time watching netflix or scrolling social media, you spend your time creating your ideal life and pursuing something. Like I said, there's a wide range for this and some people will be happy doing this at a level where they make less than 200k but spend a lot of time with friends or outside or something. Others will want to be in the seven figure range creating businesses or something. Only you can answer what "level" you'll be happy with, the main thing is that you're improving yourself/relationships. thebrofessor has a goal-making post (called spokes or something I think), but I feel like he tends to live in line with this too. From his posts it seems his free time is spent doing active things like surfing, hanging with friends, or learning a language.

On number two- I know the phrase "momento mori" could probably come off as kind of cringe or something idk, but to me it just means to be fully present and realize that life is short so we need to make the most of it. I realized over the past year that I was hardly ever fully present in the moment, and I rarely fully enjoyed small victories along the way. I think a lot of people on wso are like this. You have this path of top school=>IB=>PE=>HF/top MBA=>etc. where as soon as you accomplish one you shift your focus to achieving the next one. I saw myself doing this in other parts of my life where I kept telling myself that life would be so much better once I got to the next point, then I'd get there and think the same thing about the next step. I know this is kind of scrambled but basically enjoy where you're at. Of course you need to make sure you're on track to be where you want to be in ten years, but make sure you enjoy your day to day bc you never know when your time's up.

I think a good rule of thumb for life is to make decisions based on what you'll remember on your death bed. You probably won't remember or care about staying in to watch netflix on a Friday night, but you'll probably remember going out and having a crazy experience or meeting up with friends and just chilling.

One last note- I think I read this on here recently, but one thing that's hard for people once you graduate is gauging what success looks like. When you were in school it was easy to gauge- whoever had the best grades/scores in hs went to the best university, whoever had the best gpa/ECs/internships got the best job. But as you get older people's priorities change. For one person success may look like pulling in 7-figs while working 80 hrs/week, for another success may be ~200k and spending as much time as possible with their family. For others it may be traveling the world. The thing is that there's no real answer. You have this one life to design the way YOU want it so you have to dig deep and answer the question for yourself. Don't worry about what other's think, your true friends will be happy for you as long as you're happy/healthy.

Legion42, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Just try to be the best version of yourself as much as possible. However, to do this surround yourself with people you admire. There is a good saying "you don't know what you don't know". So you can't reason out the optimal life equation,  you have to rely on guidance of people who have tried and failed. Also give back and help those who are struggling. 

Gucci Loafers, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Regarding being adult. The more freedom you have, the more responsibility you have. Plain simple. Everything has a price. I remember one study where they interviewed elders about what was their happiest period in life and paradoxically it was between 30 - 40 when there was high stress (children, sleepless nights, a lot of responsibilities). The idea? Nourishing relationships, providing, creating something (children) and moving foward is what humans are meant to do.

Also, your 20's are overrated. Sure, in WSO everyone will see their 20's as the best years of their live because they were fit, healthy, etc. but after 30 you have something which in your 20's you do not, and that is peace with yourself about who you are, what you enjoy, what are your values and your philosophy about life. So just enjoy life because each period has his unique positives and negatives.

Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Count your blessings daily, especially when going to sleep at night. Also, little acts of kindness can change the world. You can make a difference - you don't have to be Jeff Bezos. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 1
PrettyBoy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

To attempt to survive for as long as possible.

Am not doing well so far.

  • Prospect in HF - EquityHedge

Before I go on to say what I want to say, I want to say congrats on what you have accomplished so far. It looks like you'll do great in anything you set yourself out to do. With that being said, I'm a little hesitant in writing this post, but I am going to post away anyway in the hopes that it may be of some use to you and others. I hope I don't offend anyone in what I am about to say. It is not and never will be my intention to harm others. This past year I have been seriously studying Buddhism and meditation. Initially, some of the concepts taught in Buddhism seemed far-fetched to me, but as I investigated and contemplated more (through reading and meditation and lots of thinking about how those concepts were connected and consistent with each other), those concepts didn't seem so far-fetched at all. In fact, the things the Buddha taught can be verified by your very self (through your own effort). Buddhism is not a religion based on belief or blind faith. In my opinion, it isn't really a religion at all, but what I can tell you is that what you get from it happens through your own CONTEMPLATION and INVESTIGATION (your own effort). I can't post everything I learned in this one post, but I would just like you to consider the option that rebirth (not reincarnation) may be real? Who or what is to say that humans only live once? Why not more than once? And why more than once? And how? At first, I was like no way can rebirth be real, but then I started to question myself as to why did I accept that humans only had one life? Questions such as why are some people born poor and others rich, why are some people born blind, why are some people good-looking and not so good-looking can be answered. That then started my journey into the Buddha's stories of his own past lives. These were all explained by him and is just his telling of his own experiences. One can see for oneself whether they have lived more than once before (maybe as an animal, as a hell-being, an angel, a girl, a boy, etc.). You can do that through meditation, but this is another topic that I won't dive into. I just want to say what if you have lived many past lives before and will continue to live more lives due to a certain action? Everything in life happens due to CAUSES and CONDITIONS (Physics agrees with this statement. If you don't believe in physics, then I have no more to say.). However, from what I know about the Buddha, his knowledge is far more advanced than what regular humans currently understand. I know this sounds like I worship him or something like that, but in all honesty, I don't. I see him as a teacher that has taught me how to remove or at least reduce anger, sadness, hatred, ill-will, annoyance, resentment, guilt, shame, fear, anxiety, stress, jealousy, envy, boredom, loneliness, etc. I still feel some of these emotions (and some of them I have never felt before), but the more I study the Buddha's teachings and practice meditation, the more I feel like I will eventually PERMANENTLY remove them. Through my current study and practice, I can say that within this past year, I have felt more peaceful, calm, serene, and content. (I've also become a less judgmental and kind person). If you are interested in feeling this, I would suggest no further than to consider that rebirth may be real and look into Buddhism (specifically Theravada Buddhism since it is the closest to the Buddha's teachings). Another question I would like to bring up is why would some guy (who was a real historical figure) who was born a prince with all he ever wanted leave his cushy palace life and go in search of something else? Also, what reason would he have to lie about what he taught given that he also taught people not to lie? Not only has there been just this Buddha, but there have been many Buddhas in the past and there will continue to be more Buddhas in the future. The Buddha is just a title, but people today refer to him as The Buddha for convenience. If you're interested (and don't think I'm crazy haha), may I suggest you google stories on rebirth, the 4 Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, the 5 aggregates, the 5 hindrances, law of karma (cause and effect)? Ajahn Brahm on youtube and puredhamma.net have been good resources for me. There are also videos of doctors studying out of body experiences on youtube. It's beneficial to be skeptical, but it's ignorant to not test out whether or not something is actually true or not. I would really like to say more, but I'm just going to leave it up to you whether or not you or those reading this wish to go further. I just want you to be happy and hopefully I've given you something that may be of use. Good luck in your future! 

Skeptic Ape, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hey, bud. I think you have some solid responses posted in the thread already. That should have you covered. But, I will give my two cents, a tip of the hat, and that's it.

Adulting is a train that will hit you no matter how prepped you are for it. Read that again. That sentence is a part of the process – career planning, putting a mortgage, doing your taxes, discovering love, understanding who you are, screwing up – it happens gradually, whether you are up for it or not. And the awareness that things will happen whether you are prepared for them or not is most of what adulting is.

The part about relevance – who the fuck is relevant anyway? Jamie Dimon and Musk? Kudos to their portfolio of achievements. But they did not start this way. Everyone started on the absolute end of the irrelevance spectrum. The trust fund gal at the target school and the non-target hustler – everyone is irrelevant to the system. And then – you optimize your way ahead. Or you find a corner good enough for you and stick to it.

Over the coming years, try to understand just three things:

  1. Who are you?
  2. What do you want?
  3. How can you get it?

That's pretty much it. Stay fit. Keep your mind open. And don't get stuck doing something you despise for money you might not need. Also – don't fall for the 'passion crap'. Try to build a family, spend time with your parents in their sunset years, build something (anything of any size) you can be personally proud of, and try to find a few things you are naturally good at. If you can use these latter skills to do something good – economically or for the greater good, amazing. If you cannot – that's fine too.

My point being – vocation is the only way out. So, discover what works for you. And when it shows up, don't be scared to take the leap of faith. You will be fine.

As always – feel free to discard everything written here. Most of us, especially yours truly, are speaking from a very skewed set of experiences of a very small life only we are aware of. So, what do we know. But, don't let the worry of what may or may not happen tomorrow eat you up today. That is not a trade worth your time.


  • 2
deltaberry, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Must be a generational thing.

Most people are not born to make a difference to the world. The billions in Africa and India, do you think they make a difference to the world as an individual, as much as the lefties would want to tell you everyone is special?

let me tell you one thing. You are probably not special. Odds are against you. Forget about going to a target and getting into a BB. Even if you made MD you are not special. There are so many out there.

there's a slim chance you'll be Elon Musk or Donald Trump and take mankind to Mars, otherwise you most definitely have 0 impact or relevance on my life or my family's. That's how special you are. Nothing to feel sad about 

JeepTeeth, what's your opinion? Comment below:

As somebody with even less life experience than most people here, I may not lend the best or most realistic perspective, but honestly, not even trying to be cliché, but the meaning of life is whatever the fuck you want it to be; it boils down to either leading a life where you can satisfy yourself, or a life wherein you can help others achieve the first goal of life.

Now, both of these can come in different forms; some people are hedonistic, some people wanna change the world, some people wanna settle down and lead a quiet life, some people want to have a legacy that outlasts them (don't necessarily have to be ambitious, might just be that nice old guy that everyone fondly remembers from the corner shop), most people are a mix of this all and the many things I didn't list.

Ultimately, this is why I've chosen to pursue finance as a career, it enables many of my ambitions (doing something big, being competitive and rich af) and then some. High finance enables legitimately a majority of life goals.

My support of libertarianism also hinges on this idea of meaning-relativism, the idea being that nobody knows how anybody feels, where they are in life, what they want to accomplish, etc. and therefore every individual should have a right to self-determination, so they can smoke shit and bang 5 chicks a week if they want, they can start a business without having to follow 200 pages of arbitrary regulation and having to pay a quarter of their profits to an overbearing entity, so they can spend their time on this Earth however the fuck they want.

Ultimately, the meaning of life is what you give it, and that depends on what you, as an individual, want; self-determination and ambition, that's the meaning of life.

(Again, I'm a fricken 17yo, so if this sounds dumb af, it probably is)

Keyser Söze 123, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Life can be a very complicated journey, its meaning will change throughout your life and so will your goals, but there are a few constants to this game that I focus on to help steer me in the right direction despite time, circumstance, and events:

• Enjoy each day for what it brings

• Be kind to your fellow man / woman

• Be open to new experiences, ideas, and thoughts

• Understand that you do not have all the answers today

• Search for what makes you happy

Also a few bonus quotes that get me motivated to live life:

"The greatest realization in life is that everything around you was made by people just as smart as you." - Steve Jobs

"Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game." - Babe Ruth

"The big lesson in life, baby, is never be scared of anyone or anything." - Frank Sinatra

"The unexamined life is not worth living." - Socrates

"You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength." - Marcus Aurelius 

"Get busy living or get busy dying." - Stephen King

"A man can convince anyone he's somebody else, but never himself."
  • 7
rezjopls, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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