Men · Society

The problem with complacency

I find that it is surprisingly common that guys nurture a defeatist attitude, not just when it comes to their dating life. Of the people who have contacted me for advice over the years, particularly the very inexperienced ones were full of doubt. In an extreme case, an 18 or 19 year-old would lament the chances he missed in high school, and was tortured by constant what-ifs. Yet, I have also spoken to much older guys who were full of doubts. I have met the same kind of dispiritedness among college grad who picked the wrong major. This isn’t just the typical liberal arts grad who can’t find any work at all. For instance, some years ago I frequently crossed paths with people who wanted to carve out a career in the non-profit world, doing one internship after another, interspersed by bouts as baristas or simply unemployment.

Those were just examples to illustrate one particular phenomenon. Concretely, it seems that people all-too-quickly end up in a rut. Suddenly, things are supposed to be a certain way. The underlying problem is arguably that a dissatisfying situation you are familiar with is comforting, in a perverse way, while change might entail uncertainty. It is possible to turn your life around, though. In fact, many guys are full of unused potential. Just because you were a weirdo in high school doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to talk to girls. Most guys can make significant progress within just a few months. Similarly, if your career sucks and you feel trapped, you can often turn things around. You can probably end up in a situation in which you will be genuinely fucked, so I shouldn’t generalize too much.

I would like to briefly talk about career changes, and some inspiring examples I know of, from personal interactions. There was one guy who had a very hard time making ends meet with stings in PR, journalism, and NGO work, despite working his ass off. At one point he had enough, so he went back to school in his 30s to get a Bachelor’s in Applied Computer Science. After graduation, he walked straight into a decent job. Another guy I know got a Master’s in sociology, and wanted to add a PhD. After the second year in a PhD program, he got fed-up. He may even have finished with a PhD. I’m not quite sure. Yet, he knew he hadn’t made a good choice and was wasting his intelligence. So, what did he do? Well, he finished med school a few months ago. Of course he had to swallow his pride when he realized that he’s about 10 years older than everyone else around him.

Another interesting case was an immigrant from South Korea. For personal reasons he moved to Germany. If I recall correctly, his wife got an academic position, which was an excellent opportunity for her. Yet, he unfortunately couldn’t get his degrees acknowledged because his original profession was regulated in Germany. He then buckled down, first learning German, and then going to university in Germany, in order to earn an engineering degree. When he graduated, he was almost 45. He said that it was certainly tough, starting all over at that point in life, and then he said, “But what else could I have done with the rest of my live? Living off other people’s money?”. By “other people’s money” he meant government money, which, ultimately, is paid by other people. It’s ironic that such a guy ended up in Germany, the dream destination for everyone unwilling or unable to make it in life.

There are plenty of people who are stuck in their shitty job, wasting their clearly above average IQs. Others routinely get harangued by their nasty wife and don’t dare to leave because they are afraid they may not find anyone else. Others hang out with people who have become a bad influence, but are afraid to cut them off. The moral of this post is that complacency can easily fuck up your entire life, one day at a time. If you feel stuck, you need to fight if you want to improve your situation. There is probably always a way to ensure that tomorrow will be a little bit better than today, and if you strive to constantly improve your life, then next year will be tremendously better than today.

9 thoughts on “The problem with complacency

  1. Thanks for this blog post, Aaron. I enjoyed reading it. Has anyone here ever attended a professionally administered test such as the WAIS? I made a few online tests just out of curiosity. The results show that I have an average score. But they are only 60 minutes or so of multiple choice. The scientific ones seem to be quite complex in terms of tasks and scoring.

    1. I did a professionally administered one. Yes, I am incredibly intelligent: ~2.5 standard deviations above the mean, hitting the test ceiling in two or three subtests. But don’t be too envious, because a very high IQ tends to be a liability in life.

    2. I did an aptitude test for some job I applied to, the first test comprised of 50 questions of logic and arithmetic that I had to complete in 15 minutes. The test had a note at the beginning that they don’t expect me to answer all the questions in 15 mins but I should answer as many as I can. I don’t know of anyone who has done that here and how it went for him. For me the time ran out on the 33rd question. There were other tests though and those ones had enough time.

  2. “The underlying problem is arguably that a dissatisfying situation you are familiar with is comforting, in a perverse way (…).”

    That’s exactly it. There’s more to that. As a matter of fact this is self-destructiveness. And the parents are to be blamed for it.
    Self destructive behaviour is, among others, a defense mechanism. When children have been stubbornly hurt (BOTH physically and mentally), then the hate for the parents and their action stands in conflict with the all natural parental love. This conflict of having to feel both opposing feelings of hate and love is resolved by building emotional walls and defense mechanisms in order to create distance. Distance to others, distance to one self. Self destructive behaviour is then just a way of subconsciously harming one self because one “just can’t be good”. The very initial love, the first good thing ever is damaged, subsequently all other good things have to be damaged, too.
    Usually it’s the mother damaging the son, and the father damaging the daughter.
    I in no way intend to downplay how much damage a father can do to a daughter, but the constellation of an abusive mother with a non-existent father (death, divorce or him just being a pussy) is pure horror.
    Broken men are broken sons. Confrontation with that emotional mess is brutal but necessary and I doubt it can be done alone.
    Women destroy societies.

  3. My mother was murdered when I was two years old. I don’t remember her at all. My stepmother was mentally abusive. My dad has always sided with his late wife. But I feel he was good in his heart. Seldom showed it, though. I am in my early thirties now. Never had a real relationship or experienced true friendship. Same for my siblings.

    ‘building emotional walls and defense mechanisms in order to create distance. Distance to others, distance to one self. Self destructive behaviour is then just a way of subconsciously harming oneself because one “just can’t be good”.’

    Very interesting. This statement might apply to my situation. I am not knowledgeable enough in this area to evaluate my current state. Would you suggest to consult a therapist? Not sure if I am depressed or something. But I am not happy. That is for certain. Your opinion would be much appreciated.

    1. If you think you might need a therapist, you need a therapist. Life is short enough not to waste time on shit. Instead get shit sorted.

  4. Thanks. I read up on parental emotional neglect and how it might be possible to treat with coginitive behavioral therapy. Thanks for introducing those terms to me. I will consult with my GP if it makes sense to schedule an appointment with a therapist.

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