I received the following article request in response to my article The Dangers of Chads Living the Stacy Lifestyle:
I was wondering if you can write an article request on resilience as it relates to your article The Dangers of Chads Living the Stacy Lifestyle. It appears that men nowadays lack the resilience than previous generations
before. You noted,
“There is also the issue that guys who are blessed with good genetics, but who do not have money, sometimes lack “GRIT” because life, during their formative years, was too easy for them.”
“…the sons of well-off but not rich families to not develop any real ambition in life.”
Now, are there certain life experience or life adversities that men should and/or need to experience to become resilient and perhaps this shapes them and makes them more
masculine and well-rounded, and can too much life adversities hinder one life achievements?
I think there are few ways parents can damage their children more than by removing all hardship from their life. This leads to raising children who are extreme people pleasers who cannot deal well with setbacks, and the first time they face any adversity at all, they may not be able to handle it. It is easy sketch how this works in well-off families: the children get sent to good schools, get private tutoring, then they enter a respectable university, followed by embarking on a traditional career path by joining BigCorp or becoming a lawyer or doctor.
I was fortunate enough to experience the discrepancy between a regular university and a highly selective one. At elite schools, your professors and the administration really coddle you. Sure, you are expected to work hard, or hard enough, but the safety nets in place are quite ridiculous. One of the biggest surprises was when I attended my first class, as one of perhaps 20 students. The professor had a printout on his desk with the pictures and names of all students, and he went out of his way to memorize our names. It was the only class he taught this term, so this was surely not much of a challenge. This was just the beginning, though. You had great leeway in picking topics for your essays, and if you accidentally missed a deadline, they granted you an extension. I once forgot about an upcoming deadline, perhaps because I was partying too hard, and the professor approached me directly after he heard me talk to a class mate about it. Without me having to ask, I was offered a one-week extension as the university wanted to avoid putting too much pressure on students. I did not need it because there was enough time, but this is really not how the real world works.
In contrast, if you attend a large state university, you may be one of about two hundred students. If you don’t show up for class, nobody will care or even notice. If you forget to hand in your assignments on time, they flunk you without giving it a second thought, and the tutorial sessions may be poorly run. To survive, you more often than not need to sit down with your books, and figure things out by yourself. The result is that it is not uncommon that 50% of the people in your class drop out or pick an easier subject after just one semester. In contrast, at selective universities, you need to get in, but once you are in, you almost feel as if you are in some kind of academic theme park.
A lot of people seem to be completely unable to learn anything themselves. In my field, in my day job, there is a cottage industry of conferences and training providers, all just because apparently the average engineer cannot just pick up a book or a language reference and read the fucking thing. You can pick up a programming language really quickly with the available documentation and a compiler, yet Joe Average needs his employer to spend $2,000 to sit in a seminar where some schmuck goes through a bunch of examples. It is a total travesty.
The other aspect that really messes up children is easy access to money. I get that their parents just want to ensure that Little Timmy has a good time in school and can wear the right clothes to fit in, but this sets a disastrous baseline. Many women, in fact, need years to grasp that money is not some kind of limitless resource. You can go into any mall and see young women spend hundred of dollars on clothes they may hardly ever wear. I met women who had clothes at home they had never worn, except to try them on to see if they fit. Then, the sweater they really had to have gets put into their wardrobe until they throw it out.
In the past, it was not uncommon that your parents made you get a summer job in high school, just so that you get a sense of what it means to work and earn some money. I have the impression that this is getting less and less common nowadays. In particular in well-off families, parents go out of their way to buy whatever their children want. Rarely will they get told that if they want something, they should go earn the money for it. Having to carefully watch your budget is a very valuable exercise. I think every guy should have to do this at least once in their life, and for at least one year. Even if you end up in a comfortable position afterwards, you probably will not be inclined to blow $200 on some bullshit.
Perhaps the fastest way to grow resilience is if you completely leave your comfort zone. I left home in my early 20s and basically started over from zero in a big city, and I lived in two other countries for extended periods of time. Meanwhile, there are people who live in the same city as their parents and whose mother still does the laundry for them. Climbing a hill, figuratively speaking, is an excellent exercise. What would you do if you had to go abroad for an indefinite amount of time? If you have never done it, the mere thought may send shivers down your spine. However, once you have been through this, you realize that you can make friends somewhere else, too, or that all the belongings you thought you needed to have are perhaps not much more than a distraction.
There are also other, safer, ways to build resilience, albeit I am not sure how well you can transform the lessons learned this way to your life. The reason is that I am not sure about cause and effect. A simple example is picking up a sport, or lifting weights. Is this just a way for you to pass some of your time or do you really push yourself to your limit? Did you ever get so exhausted after a workout that you were at risk of fainting? Did you ever do a deadlift that was so challenging that you could not walk for a while afterwards? Over-exercising is surely not healthy in the long run, but I consider it valuable to at least try to explore where your limits are. However, if you have lived life on easy street all your life, you probably do not even consider this. Probably attending spinning class and following the lead of your instructor is good enough for such people.
I also like to bang my head against the wall when I play video games. Modern triple-A games with their insipid gameplay that consists of pressing A for Awesome do nothing for me. However, I have a very small selection of games I frequently return to, and in some I have become quite competent, after hundreds of hours of practice. This sounds like a lot but it averages out to half an hour every couple of days over many years, and in my view this is preferable to going through dozens of modern games that basically play themselves. Oftentimes, hearing that a particular game is “difficult” is enough for me to check it out. Again, just like with sports, I think that you already have to be a glutton for punishment to play such games. I find it implausible that well-adjusted Timmy who has absolutely no idea what hardship of whatever way is hears about games like 1001 Spikes, Dark Souls, Super Meat Boy, Dodonpachi, Tetris The Grand Master, SpaceChem, Super Ghouls and Ghosts, The Witness, or Sekiro, and is eager to play them. Timmy just does not like getting slapped in the face over and over. Also, the streamers of the games I am thinking of do not seem to be the most well-adjusted guys around. If they were, they would play Fortnite or Apex Legends.
There are also downsides to building resilience. One is that you may seek out challenges just for the sake of it. This can mean joining a company that has a reputation for being “toxic”, but not because they employ a lot of white men. I think it is more important to be able to make it through tough times when needed than it is to seek out difficult situations at all costs, and only for the sake of it, in particular if there are no clear benefits attached to it. I struggle a bit with this myself, in fact. For instance, I have worked for companies that are known for their shitty work culture, but I thought that the experience I gained there would be worth it. On the one hand, it was, but on the other, I really did not enjoy my time very much. At one place, when I resigned, I wondered why people put up with such crap, and in this context I learned that none of the three people who had this particular job before me lasted for more than eight months. I managed to stick around for about twice that time. Bizarrely enough, I don’t have a lot of memories of this time. I recall that it was a lot of work, a lot of office politics, and that my manager was quite intolerable, but it was just a blur in the end. I have more memories of some internships.
Another issue is that, depending on how you built your mental resilience, you may enjoy a lot less psychological comfort than others, but likely you will not need it anyway. For instance, I have moved a lot in my life, and if I told you how many registered addresses I have had in my adulthood, you likely would not believe it. In one year, I lived in four different apartments and three different cities in two countries, for instance. This is more than a lot of people experience in their entire life. As a consequence of this lifestyle, I do not have a lot of strong connections wherever I live, but on the other hand, I have some friendships who have lasted for decades. Also, just because you live in the same place for decades does not mean that you make lots of contacts. This is particularly true for large cities.
Lastly, too much adversity can obviously mess you up. Some people resort to drugs or alcohol to dull themselves, and this is the beginning of a vicious cycle. You probably want to be single and unattached when you go out in the world to get punched in the face. You probably should aim to be in pretty good health. The worst outcome would be to seek out adversity in order to build character, only to fail over and over. I have met a few people like that too. There are a lot of people who move to their country’s capitol to have fun and reinvent themselves, and plenty of them fail completely. I met people in London and Berlin who were completely out of their comfort zone, but not in a good way. They could not handle life in a big city at all. Some crash and burn, and move back to their little hometown within months as they find it too difficult to take care of everything at once. Life surely is a lot easier if your mother still does your laundry and you can visit each Sunday for a nice, filling meal, and if life never throws a curveball at you, you will be fine.