There’s no cheating anyone: I’m running away from this country. As stupid as it may sound, I’m running away. From what? Sadness, loneliness and isolation, mostly. And crushed dreams. Friends all around me are reaching that 20-25 period where you face the life head on and you receive a terrible blow.

I’m not depressed or anything like that; it’s just that seeing it all around me really starts to wear me down. I’m a part of an unlucky generation; I was born in 1987, during the period of dramatic political and social changes and the transformation from communism to democracy. The tragedy is that our parents, in all their good faith, prepared us perfectly… for living in a wrong political and social system.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone. Some people received good advice and started their businesses early on; others became engineers, found their cozy jobs and rolled 9-5 from then on, earning ridiculous salaries. The remaining 80% or so is fucked… and it breaks my heart every time I think about it and it makes me want to wail every time I see people stranded somewhere between childhood bliss and the promised adult life, without any clean perspective of getting out of that pit of despair.

How does one ever live in such place and not become depressed?

A little note on the previous post: it’s somewhat of an exaggeration. The situation in Poland is not appallingly bad – but being immersed in it for years almost makes me believe it is. It all boils down to the point of view and perception.

On meaningless stuff, survival of species and loneliness.

A part of maturing, upgrading one’s life and giving it meaning is switching from meaningless, mindless stuff (watching TV, browsing 9gag, gossiping, drinking) to meaningful stuff (reading, creating, meeting great people). And there’s a problem with this.

There are two ways to approach change: you either start doing something new and find out that the old thing just doesn’t make sense for you anymore; or you do it the other way round – you find meaningless activities, well… meaningless, so you ditch them and start trying to find some other filler for the empty space you just created.

The problem is that if you’re not careful, you can make your life so empty you’ll go CRAZY. The thing is: once you realize some activity is mindless and pointless, you’ll generally either stop doing it, or keep trying to do it but discover it’s no longer that fun. 

What you miss here is that even though some activities are meaningless and/or mindless, they usually have multiple purposes, some of them not obvious – and only after you stop doing something, you discover the emptiness in areas of your life where you never ever anticipated it would appear.

It hit me recently, and hit me hard. I quit my job and quit drinking (I’ll follow up on this subject later) at the approximately same time. After the initial excitement wore off, I realized my social life was reduced to naught. Consider this: a day at the office grants you about 40 man-hours of social contact alone and includes several different kind of interaction (sitting together in the same room; technical discussions; bonding during lunch hours; and even some office politics). A drunk party adds about the same amount (depending on the kind of parties you attend). With the lifestyle I used to have this easily added up to 300 man-hours of social contact a week. Right now it’s more like 10 man-hours of real life contact plus 30 hours of goddamn fucking Facebook Chat.

Now, here is the catch: thousands of years of evolution created a mechanism in our brains which causes great distress whenever we become separated from the rest of the group. It’s wired so deep inside our psychology that the very feeling of loneliness causes a multitude of negative symptoms, of which hypertension, stress and constant anxiety are the most common.

Cutting a survival-critical metric tenfold in three months is never a good idea. In fact, it’s so dumb I can hardly forgive myself for this.

Consult the literature on the subject

As a follow-up to the previous post, here’s a little bit of advice: most common problems of the world are solved – even if the majority of people still have no idea a solution exists. A few examples:

  • Getting fat? Here’s (probably) why.
  • Feeling guilty for staying home on a Friday night? There’s science behind this (brain chemistry & wiring).
  • Still arguing with your artsy friends about whether you are an artist or not? What does ‘artist’ mean, anyway? Enlightened people have figured it out (and it’s an incredibly inspiring piece, by the way).
  • Considering a career as a drunk entrepreneur? Heed the warning. (and laugh all along the way, the guy is hilarious).
  • Got a feeling that the way most companies work is illogical at best? Wondering if there’s any other way? You’re on the right trail.

I could go on like this for a long time. Smart people wrote on almost every subject imaginable – from storing your data the right way to sharpening pencils. All you have to do is reach out for that vast knowledge.

Get a Kindle. It will change your life.

We’re sorry to reject your content, but

you’re not allowed to be sad.

Western societies have drifted as far from sadness and death as possible. Traditionally, the ways to cope with those uneasy feelings were rituals and mythology. In Western society, there’s a mythology too – a myth that consumption helps. This doesn’t solve the fundamental problem – but usually the answer is more consumption. What better solution to getting fat than eating a big pack of cookies?

It’s not hard to break out from this cycle once you realize it’s in place – but then, be prepared to find a replacement. Cutting the overconsumption out means you’ll no longer be shielded – and you’ll have to cope with that somehow.

Of course, I have a recommended reading about that.