Existentialism on WSO

There is a continuous stream of posts on WSO asking questions such as "what's the meaning of life?" And "I want to escape society and live in the wilderness". I tend to relate with some of these posts. It seems that since finance is so competitive, so much of a student's time must be dedicated to making sure their GPA is 3.7+, recruiting for internships the day they set foot on campus, networking, interview prep, clubs, etc. This creates a scenario where many students turn into finance hardos. It blows me away that there are posts such as "just got my SA offer; what do I do now?" Which tells us their entire life = recruiting for a finance internship. Is there any cure for them? Or are all students coming up now destined to be depressed, as a consequence of success?

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Comments (16)

Jan 14, 2022 - 12:09am

Life is pretty simple. Do good works for others. That's it.

"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

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Jan 14, 2022 - 1:18am

Have you guys heard of WOOF'ing?Β  Check it out. You trade labor for housing in different countries. It might be of interest to some of the younger people on this forum.It

It's reasonable to do if you want to take a GAP year and do some manual labor in a another country in exchange for a roof over your head while you contemplate your future goals.

Go, Go, Excel

Jan 14, 2022 - 12:33pm

InspecturGadjet

Have you guys heard of WOOF'ing?Β  Check it out. You trade labor for housing in different countries. It might be of interest to some of the younger people on this forum.It

It's reasonable to do if you want to take a GAP year and do some manual labor in a another country in exchange for a roof over your head while you contemplate your future goals.

It's calledΒ Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) - it's not just labor, it's organic farming.

I've worked on a farm before (not a WWOOF farm). It's hard work, but rewarding.Β 

"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

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Most Helpful
Jan 14, 2022 - 12:12pm

I think a lot of it comes from people being "successful" but not being happy. It sucks to realize that you've worked so hard and made it pretty far only to still have a huge void in your life. I kind of feel this way myself. I objectively have a great life but I realize that I prioritized work and my career at the expense of relationships and experiences. I didn't really enjoy my college experience, the first couple of years out of school were OK. My biggest takeaway over the past year or so is that having money is pointless if you have nobody to share your life with. It's all about balancing striving for more / career progress with enjoying time with friends and family, having great life experiences, etc.

So yeah no wonder these kids who grind from age 8-22 and now work 80+ hours per week, for what, a couple hundred grand to do nothing but Excel and PPT for years on end? To be some sycophant to a d*ckhead MD who only cares about you to the extent that you are able to serve them? All the while any relationships with friends and family are turning to shit. It's the complete opposite of what will make you happy. Trading money and time for health, family, friends. Not saying this can't be balanced in banking and that people don't do it but yeah I can understand the sentiment.Β 

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Jan 14, 2022 - 1:29pm

I realized this in early 20s, fortunately earlier than most. Got to my first finance gig after college and realized I spent way too much time focusing on GPA, getting internship experience, etc. and less on truly enjoying those unique 4 years. Had the gig I always wanted but was miserable. Thought 'this is it? I sacrificed all that to be an excel monkey?'. Didnt have any real hobbies, was in awful shape, and realized I just used career ambition to offset the other insecurities and self esteem issues I had in life.Β 

Not saying everyone is like that, but I definitely saw others who were somewhat similar to myself. Entire identity becomes their job (hard not to with the hours) but it's used as a crutch to try and offset everything else that's being neglected.Β 

Jan 14, 2022 - 1:12pm

Yes, have noticed this and am not surprised at all.

Noticed something else about these posts. 90% are about the meaning of life with an entirely secular viewpoint and with no mention of a religious life. Today, you basically have an entire generation of kids that has been told religion is for idiots, rednecks, evil homophobes, and redstate Republicans. Instead, the true meaning of life is recycling your plastic bags and fighting for social justice initiatives.

If you remove a cornerstone foundation of meaning for thousands of years and replace it with nothing or political bullshit, you end with a lot of people wondering about the meaning of life.

However, talking with kids onΒ WSOΒ and other places. I actually have a lot of hope for Gen Z in their search for meaning. You start a conversation and realize that a lot of them have never really been exposed to religion, or their objections are the most basic stuff out there: why is there pain in the world, hell exists so God doesn't love us, or church is about hating gay people, right?

I think that as this generation begins to search for meaning, they will begin to find what much of the modern world has been trying to conceal from them. They're smart kids I believe in them. There is nothing wrong with recent grads. What is wrong is the concerted effort to minimalize and ridicule religious belief in society in turn creating this lack of meaning for so many.Β 

Jan 14, 2022 - 1:35pm

I have seen a lot of younger Millennials and Gen Z push back against the traditional corporate BS which IMO is great. Post-pandemic it's mostly been online discourse on places like Linkedin, career websites for white collar jobs (accounting, consulting, etc.) or other sites so maybe not wholly representative, but basically 'boomer' comments of:

- if you want to climb the ladder you need to show up at the office as often as possible

- it's worth taking the time to network and meet with partners, senior leadership, etc.

- join x (country club, golf scramble, etc.) because it's great for networking and meeting higher ups

followed by Gen Z responses of

- I dont really care about any of that

- I dont want to climb the ladder. Ive seen the life of my partner it's miserable

- would rather spend my time doing Y

etc. etc.

I truly think there has been a paradigm shift, partly brought on by the pandemic/WFH revolution.Β 

Jan 14, 2022 - 1:58pm

Good comments but I would add that this isn't necessarily the route to meaning and happiness. It's part of the answer.Β  Great to realize that making partner isn't the meaning of life, but not great, if you're just playing video games at home instead and have not discovered another meaning other than a more leisurely schedule.

I think you can end up really depressed following either path actually even though one may seem easier or better at first.

Jan 14, 2022 - 2:06pm

curiousgeorge79

The MS here is further making your point. Truly sad and the reason for a lot of the unhappiness going around (COVID, "mental health," etc.)

You're exactly right. And think about this for a second....

I'm suggesting that people just think about or consider bringing God into their life who taught us to love and take care of each other and to be more humble and kind.

What about that general viewpoint deserves MS??? Yet you mention religion to some people, and it immediately illicits anger. Just the strangest thing. It goes to show the level of brainwashing that has taken place in our society.

However, can't say it hasn't happened before. Jesus came to Earth preaching love for your fellow man and they literally nailed him to a cross....some things never change I suppose.

Jan 14, 2022 - 2:06pm

Great points. I was very astounded by your thinking here. Maybe someday I'll get to this level. I'm glad you found this way. It seems epic. Cheers 🍻 

"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

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Jan 14, 2022 - 2:06pm

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