Author Topic: How Life Became an Endless, Terrible Competition  (Read 2069 times)

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Offline Liar Loan

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Re: How Life Became an Endless, Terrible Competition
« Reply #15 on: August 30, 2019, 01:21:43 PM »
Isn't this the reason why the FIRE movement is gaining popularity?

Those who "win" in this current meritocratic academic system get the "prize" of highly lucrative, yet also soul sucking careers in big law, consulting, hedge funds, venture capital, tech, etc.

Many dream of the day in which they have saved enough or had a liquidity event big enough that they can cash out, retire early.

I've got a lot of old schoolmates who fit this situation. (double Ivy degree).  Outward "success" does not necessarily translate into personal happiness or fulfillment. Many of my friends and acquaintances who have school aged children are wracked by insecurity about how to ensure their own children can achieve the same success they did in this test and achievement based system. Its a never ending treadmill where the prize for working hard and succeeding is to get to work even harder. 

Orange County is more relaxed than some of the big cities like NYC, LA, SF, and for that I am grateful to be living here and raising my kids away from that rat race.

Yup, FIRE baby! I'm willing to bet that most of those "winners" you're talking about might be spending too much and not saving enough. It's not like those C-level executives or other big wage earners don't get paid enough... for example, executive management compensation has really exploded in growth compared to the wages of the average worker. 

If they were to just save a little bit more, they could realistically retire early & then have all the time in the world to enjoy their lives... But we see too many instead choosing expensive homes, cars, and other trappings over savings. Those guys just need to dig-in, work those 60+ hours for decade or so, and then retire...

However I will admit that you really do need to be very thrifty DINK's nowadays to be able to something like that without the executive salary part. But hey, at least the opportunity is still there with some sacrifice.

Many people that work hard and reach the point that their household income is $150k+ feel like they need to show off their success to others.  They need the house, the leased Bimmer, flashy vacations, expensive golf outings, or other status symbols. 

This holds people back from reaching FIRE and I would say the psychology is even harder to overcome once somebody has achieved FIRE.  If you have seven-figures sitting in the bank, you feel like it should be your right to start splurging on life, since you worked so hard to get there.  The thing is you can't do that, because part of being FIRE is maintaining that frugal lifestyle to enable you to live off of investments.

Offline Liar Loan

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Re: How Life Became an Endless, Terrible Competition
« Reply #16 on: August 30, 2019, 01:36:52 PM »
On a separate topic, maybe I'm just uneducated, but what is the purpose of pursuing a Harvard/Ivy degree so hard?  Does it pay better once you normalize for major and/or career path?  Do you get to relish in the prestige of this degree?  I'm curious what makes it so worthwhile to put every other aspect of your life - happiness, family life, childhood, personal fulfillment - on the back burner?

I was friends with the valedictorian of my graduating class and she went to Harvard.  She's now a doctor in the Bay Area.  Would she be any less of a doctor for not attending Harvard? 

The #2 student in our class was somebody that I was also friends with, and when we were graduating he started crying because he felt like a failure for only getting into Stanford.  He's now a lawyer in private practice.  Would his practice be any less successful if he had just relaxed and had some fun in high school?  You only get one childhood.

Offline misme

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Re: How Life Became an Endless, Terrible Competition
« Reply #17 on: August 30, 2019, 01:54:35 PM »
On a separate topic, maybe I'm just uneducated, but what is the purpose of pursuing a Harvard/Ivy degree so hard?  Does it pay better once you normalize for major and/or career path?  Do you get to relish in the prestige of this degree?  I'm curious what makes it so worthwhile to put every other aspect of your life - happiness, family life, childhood, personal fulfillment - on the back burner?

I was friends with the valedictorian of my graduating class and she went to Harvard.  She's now a doctor in the Bay Area.  Would she be any less of a doctor for not attending Harvard? 

The #2 student in our class was somebody that I was also friends with, and when we were graduating he started crying because he felt like a failure for only getting into Stanford.  He's now a lawyer in private practice.  Would his practice be any less successful if he had just relaxed and had some fun in high school?  You only get one childhood.

Most of the people I knew at Harvard who were happiest did not pursue acceptance to the Ivy League as an end in itself. They just delved deeply into something they cared about, whether it was an interest in academics, or arts or sports or music or writing or whatever.  The college acceptance was a by-product of that.  Of course this was a generation ago. It may be different now.


Some classmates had inherently driven personalities and would probably pursue being "the best" no matter what school they went to. Or, they were super smart and kind of lazy (mostly math and physics majors).

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Offline irvinehomeowner

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Re: How Life Became an Endless, Terrible Competition
« Reply #18 on: August 30, 2019, 02:33:25 PM »
On a separate topic, maybe I'm just uneducated, but what is the purpose of pursuing a Harvard/Ivy degree so hard?  Does it pay better once you normalize for major and/or career path?  Do you get to relish in the prestige of this degree?  I'm curious what makes it so worthwhile to put every other aspect of your life - happiness, family life, childhood, personal fulfillment - on the back burner?

I was friends with the valedictorian of my graduating class and she went to Harvard.  She's now a doctor in the Bay Area.  Would she be any less of a doctor for not attending Harvard? 

The #2 student in our class was somebody that I was also friends with, and when we were graduating he started crying because he felt like a failure for only getting into Stanford.  He's now a lawyer in private practice.  Would his practice be any less successful if he had just relaxed and had some fun in high school?  You only get one childhood.

I think it depends if their Ivy degrees got them to where they were or could they have got to the same place with say a UC or CalState education.

From what I've heard, it's the Ivy network that can open doors for you that is not available to others.

For my field, it doesn't matter if I was Ivy educated or not, I would gamble that I could probably get away with no degree... but I can't know if my first few opportunities would have never happened without it.
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Offline nosuchreality

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Re: How Life Became an Endless, Terrible Competition
« Reply #19 on: August 30, 2019, 02:58:16 PM »
On a separate topic, maybe I'm just uneducated, but what is the purpose of pursuing a Harvard/Ivy degree so hard?  Does it pay better once you normalize for major and/or career path?  Do you get to relish in the prestige of this degree?  I'm curious what makes it so worthwhile to put every other aspect of your life - happiness, family life, childhood, personal fulfillment - on the back burner?

I was friends with the valedictorian of my graduating class and she went to Harvard.  She's now a doctor in the Bay Area.  Would she be any less of a doctor for not attending Harvard? 

The #2 student in our class was somebody that I was also friends with, and when we were graduating he started crying because he felt like a failure for only getting into Stanford.  He's now a lawyer in private practice.  Would his practice be any less successful if he had just relaxed and had some fun in high school?  You only get one childhood.

I think it boils down to two fold.  Successful people increasingly recognize the patronage and preferential treatment in professional institutional life. They're versed in the corporate biases that corporate leadership teams with a core group frequently share a common alma mater and the focus hiring preferred positions being placed from certain schools.  Interships go to certain schools.  The CEO's pet MBA 'assistant' comes from a premier school etc.

Couple that with the 30 year campaign of the education system for everyone needs to go to college and well endowed school systems waging a marketing barrage pimping their product harder than BMW in the go-go 90s, and the perception is you will be severely limited by picking an 'inferior' school.  Our education system for the last 100 years is very focused on creating 'employees' and not entrepreneurs.  Most that have succeeded going through the system are looking for their place in the system, not making something new in the system.

Or super simplifying, welcome to Feudal society, you're not a 1% aristocrat, so do you want to bust your butt and be Knight or Bishop, or are you going to settle for peasant?  Because doing your own thing is heresy and punishable by burning at the stake.

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Offline nosuchreality

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Re: How Life Became an Endless, Terrible Competition
« Reply #20 on: August 30, 2019, 03:12:46 PM »
On a separate topic, maybe I'm just uneducated, but what is the purpose of pursuing a Harvard/Ivy degree so hard?  Does it pay better once you normalize for major and/or career path?  Do you get to relish in the prestige of this degree?  I'm curious what makes it so worthwhile to put every other aspect of your life - happiness, family life, childhood, personal fulfillment - on the back burner?

I was friends with the valedictorian of my graduating class and she went to Harvard.  She's now a doctor in the Bay Area.  Would she be any less of a doctor for not attending Harvard? 

The #2 student in our class was somebody that I was also friends with, and when we were graduating he started crying because he felt like a failure for only getting into Stanford.  He's now a lawyer in private practice.  Would his practice be any less successful if he had just relaxed and had some fun in high school?  You only get one childhood.

I think it depends if their Ivy degrees got them to where they were or could they have got to the same place with say a UC or CalState education.

From what I've heard, it's the Ivy network that can open doors for you that is not available to others.

For my field, it doesn't matter if I was Ivy educated or not, I would gamble that I could probably get away with no degree... but I can't know if my first few opportunities would have never happened without it.

IHO, I think this was more common for 40+ crowd.  Today, I think we have a much greater emphasis on certifications, credentials and degrees.  Look at the local public K-12 schools as example, if you don't have a doctorate, you're essential dead in the water to doing anything other than classroom teacher.

Offline Happiness

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Re: How Life Became an Endless, Terrible Competition
« Reply #21 on: August 30, 2019, 04:15:29 PM »

Our education system for the last 100 years is very focused on creating 'employees' and not entrepreneurs.  Most that have succeeded going through the system are looking for their place in the system, not making something new in the system.


Therein lies the danger of over-education. Too much book learning provides a shortcut to innovation and tenacity. Because human nature will always seek the path of least resistance, an overeducated person will always fall back on something they read rather than come up with something new.

People should get real jobs after college. Once they become successful in their fields, then they can consider an advanced degree. Nothing is worth less that a doctorate and no real world success.

Offline srh563

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Re: How Life Became an Endless, Terrible Competition
« Reply #22 on: February 14, 2020, 01:46:56 PM »
If you do what everyone else does you will have competition. So why do people follow a common path ?
I thing it what our education system "programs" us to do as well as our parents.

It is not hard to work 20hours a week and make a good living in OC but its not what our school system teaches you.

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Re: How Life Became an Endless, Terrible Competition
« Reply #23 on: February 14, 2020, 04:08:12 PM »
If people focused on finding an occupation that they are good at and have a passion for then what they do for a living will not feel like a job. If someone would have told me that I would have been a realtor 15 years ago I would have laughed in their face because I spent so much time and money on finishing grad school and getting my CPA but sometimes life has its own plans for you and I couldn't be any happier being a realtor.
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