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Wellness Wednesday for December 28, 2022

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

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I've been reading about attachment styles recently, and I'm starting to think my attachment style may be hindering me in my interpersonal relationships (particularly romantic relationships, but also platonic).

Does anyone have any resources they can recommend for how to work on (and ideally change) one's attachment style? I would prefer resources in the form of hard-copy books, as I want to spend less of my free time this year looking at screens, but recommendations for digital resources are also welcome.

Thanks, and Happy New Year to you all

This'll be one of the first Google results, but I did read Attached by Rachel Heller, and it really does have great information.

Unfortunately I read it after going through yet another painful breakup, and I've been single ever since. I am very, very avoidant. I do think that now that I have a better understanding, I'll hopefully be able to handle my next relationship better.

Thanks for the suggestion.

Any tips on how to avoid pointless internet debating? Sometimes I let what people say online get to me, and I feel almost like I have to say something. I can't let things go unchallenged. But I am, almost without exception, disappointed in the response any time I post something like that outside of the Motte.

In your head, treat forums like StackOverflow, not Reddit. Whatever you want to post, someone else probably posted it in that very same thread. Forum posts are repositories of a subset of the of discussions that could be had, no need add repetitive entries.

Although, at the end of the day, it just comes down to having self-control. Treat certain spaces as 'read-only'.

Noting that we're all almost by definition addicts on here.

Ask yourself what you want to achieve. I've been trying to reduce my shit-tier reply-guy-ing, even on here, and what I've realized is that if I think about it, the utility of arguing with say, a modern degenerate Nazi/Tankie/Pedo-Fascist is something like making sure the argument doesn't go unaddressed and people don't feel like the forum as a whole is endorsing it. He can get the last word, or ten words, or thousand words, no one is going to read that far anyway, what's important to me is that it doesn't go unanswered at the top level. This is probably pointless too, but it addresses my aesthetic desire to not let it go.

So for example, if somebody on an NFL forum defends Deshaun Watson, I want to speak up to say no he's a piece of shit, but I don't think I'm going convince the piece of shit defending him, I'm going to make clear to others on the forum that this kind of thing won't go unaddressed. That only requires saying it once, not getting into a game of replies.

Don't go to any places other than the Motte.

It's not the worst bubble!

if a community is a total bubble/echochamber, no one will debate you. you will just be banned

Two suggestions:

  1. Write out a response and don't post it.

  2. Allow yourself to write a response but don't engage in debate beyond that no matter what. If the people listening are worth anything at all someone else will pick up the ball.

Furthermore, something I've noticed is very heavy founder effects and manipulation in threads elsewhere, which I suspect partially has to do with bots and more manual campaigns to influence opinions. Opinions on things can switch schizophrenically between radically pro something to radically against something, literally the same day, in the same forum.

These conversations aren't natural at all and you can't really influence them as a single person, because there isn't a single person behind them and people aren't genuinely listening anyway. You wouldn't try to show up to a political rally to have measured conversations with people.

write out the response and keep it on notepad for a day, maybe you will think differently about your original position

Two suggestions:

  1. Write out a response and don't post it.
  1. Allow yourself to write a response but don't engage in debate beyond that no matter what. If the people listening are worth anything at all someone else will pick up the ball.

This are excellent. See others' threads as prompt to clear your own thinking, or write your own essays. Sometimes I even handwrite my responses as not to be tempted to post it.

Any tips on how to avoid pointless internet debating?

"Disable inbox replies" and a firm sense of haughty superiority.

Bonfire of the Insecurities

Next week is the traditional moment for new starts, new resolutions, improving ourselves. Let’s take this moment going in to talk about all the weird little things we worry about in life. The nagging mosquitoes that prick at us when we aren’t aware. Admit, and exorcise.

— My wife is extremely successful, and I do all I can to support her, but I worry sometimes I’ll end up like a penny-ante version of one of those 19th century art adjacent women who get biographies in the NYT Book Review as the muse and aide to a famous artist but her own works are all lost. I love her for who she is and I’m proud of her and I want her to be great at what she does, but in some circles I’m already more Mrs. FiveHour’s husband, even if I’m equally professionally successful in my own circles. I worry how I will succeed as a husband without compromising my self-respect in the long term.

— I’m a jack of all trades and a master of none, and I worry that I’m wasting my potential at anything through a desire to be well rounded. In general my aspiration is to be Heinlein’s Competent Man, but what if I’m just making myself universally INcompetent? I can’t stand the idea of being bad at anything, and that might keep me from ever being great at anything.

— I want to spend more time with my parents, more time with close friends, more time by myself, more time with my wife, more time with my dog, more time traveling, more time at home. Somehow there’s never enough.

— What opportunities have I missed? What will I miss if I don’t wake up and smell the coffee?

These are all absurd and minor in the grand scheme of things, but it’s what I need to be honest and acknowledge before moving forward.

— What opportunities have I missed? What will I miss if I don’t wake up and smell the coffee?

To me, this is a cousin to the expression "the more I know, the more I know I don't know."

"The more I do, the more I think about other things I haven't done but should do/ want to do." The book 80,000 Hours is above-average self-help screed, but it does drive home the point that "you will accomplish an extremely small percentage of everything that is capable of being done in a human life." Bucket lists might as well all have "visit several hundred million different stars" on them. It also gets interesting as your interests and values change over time. In my 20s, I had a job that took me to interesting places all over the world. It made me feel interesting and like I had "really experienced life." Now, I am super jealous of the guys I hunt with who have been to Wyoming, Montana, Idaho with rare/expensive lottery tags in their pockets. But hey, Dubai was cool, right?

I'm of the opinion that enduring satisfaction with life really only comes from mastery and knowledge of the self. I don't mean this in some woo-woo Zen master way. I mean figuring out truths about yourself that make sense and that you don't want to change. I went hard on the personal organization kick for a while really thinking that a super-interconnected note taking and reference system would lead ... somewhere. I think, to an extent it did, but you know what I found out as well? I really like handwriting in notebooks. It's a tactile orgy for me. So, I still use the Markdown Monster I created for career related stuff, but I start each morning scribbling pre-coffee jibberish into a spiral notebook.

  1. That's rough, but you will find someone else. There are lots of women you could marry in the world, I know, I've looked.

  2. I feel you on the coffee, I bought my wife a very expensive espresso machine, and now I'm constantly pulling a shot whenever I'm a little tired.

Good luck in the new year!

Would probably be quicker to list the things about my life that don't bother me.

  • No relationship, few friends, little prospect of fixing either. I've always found it hard to socialize and it feels even harder post-COVID era. Relationship status is doomed. People judge me as attractive and I don't have difficulty picking up guys but I'm pretty scared about having sex. I have very little sexual experience, particularly for a gay guy, that I'm very self-conscious about.

  • Job is pretty shitty, a slightly-above-minimum wage job doing manual labor. I do actually enjoy it, though, and I don't really have much hope of anything better. And any day I'm not working I'm probably going to be miserable.

  • Don't really have any valuable skills or hobbies, besides lifting.

  • Kind of hate lifting - well, not so much lifting as myself, for being so weak and being so bad at it.

  • Feeling generally unproductive and lazy. I don't really take good care of myself, or my things, or my space, or my life. I kind of end up doing the bare minimum and coasting when it comes to anything other than work or the gym.

Pardon my curiosity, but is lack of sexual experience a major demerit in the gay community? I'd think there's a lot to do with it.

I'm pretty hetero, so idk if there's a difference, but our kind tend to kinda fetishize inexperience? Like even just casually, I made a new friend recently, and we're both objectively slooooots, and it's like we're looking for the Elias Sports Bureau "Tom Brady is 0-7 against the Jets at Night when a Democrat is in the Whitehouse" levels of virginities to take. Like anything I haven't done, that's what she wants to do, no matter how obscure.

Virginity isn't really fetishized - partially because there are so few virgins. If anything it probably overlaps with ephebo- and pedophilic tendencies. But there's also very little sense that your 'first' is special. For an embarrassingly large number of gay men, including myself, their 'first' was probably not a long term girlfriend with months of buildup and anticipation. It was probably a forgettable hookup, one of a long line.

So it's not that it's some black mark - but it does feel alienating to hear gay guys talk about their sexual exploits (note that this isn't bragging - having a four digit body count is not an accomplishment for a gay man) and have nothing to offer yourself. And it kind of leaves me at a loss because I don't really know what I want or what would satisfy me. So that's all on top of being very introverted and constantly grappling with the thought that there's something wrong with me.

Huh, guess it's the straights that aren't ok after all. It's interesting how the feelings you express are things I would have identified strongly (and wrongly!) with my senior year of high school: I lack experience compared to the partners I'm seeking, and if I need experience to get a job I'll never get experience, and I'm doomed!

Hope your 2023 brings clarity on what you want followed by bringing you what you want!

Gay hookup culture has drawbacks as well as advantages. And it's not that I can't get experience. It would be pretty easy for me to get laid. Despite my anxiety about my appearance and physique, men are attracted to me.

Thank you for the positive thought, though.

  1. Physical appearance. I started balding at 15 and was completely bald at 19. I cannot look myself at the mirror anymore. It doesn't help that I started having chronic pain on the right half of my body for no apparent reason. I used to bench up to 120kg, now I find difficult to keep a bottle of water in my hand. My weight went from 80kg to 120kg beacuse food was the only thing that consoles me.

  2. Intelligence, or better, academic performace. I was always on top on my game until my obsessive suicidal thoughts started popping out 8 years ago. Sometimes my mind calm down, I go take my exams, generally passing with 95+, and, for a brief time, I can see how I used to be and then it starts again.

  3. Social relationships. I think I have more enamored with the idea of having "friends" than actually hanging out with people. I recognize the benefits of being social but I cannot bear interruption to my solitude.

  4. Virginity at 28. That it's easy to explain between ugliness and asociality. And I'm gay - that was supposed to be easier, wasn't it?

  5. Reconciling me being gay with my enormous paternal instinct. I remember since grade school I used to imagine me as a single father raising my children in the best way possible and give them the best life possible. But even if 1 and 4 weren't problems I don't think it will ever happen.

  6. Hopelessness and helplessness. I have high hopes for the future but at the same time I do not believe in those hopes: I know I will never a good job, I will never recover my "smartness", I will never be in shape again. I want to strive for those things but at the same time I'm so tired and just want to disappear.

  7. I've never had a true job but some Math tutoring to pay for expenses. I am very frugal so that's not a problem but I feel such an enormous failure. I used to dream big, and believe in those dreams but the Universe in Its Indifference had other plans. Now I feel that I will not be able to explain myself in a job interview. Joking, I don't think I will ever get one.

Thought about programming? If you are the kind to tutor math, it might well be up your alley.

One of my favorite things about tutoring is that you can portray it however you want at an interview. If your resume says math tutor, 5 years, that could be barely scraping by and shitty, or it could be extremely lucrative. Employers have no real way to verify it...

programming

People always suggest this, but it's not like knowing how to program just gets you a job. You also need the ability to concentrate well enough to put in 8 hour days staring at a screen, and the ability to communicate well enough to handle scrum meetings or whatever. I've been programming since I was very young, but spectacularly failed at doing it in a "professional" environment (CS grad school). Like OP I'm scraping by doing math/CS tutoring because it's the only thing I can really concentrate on.

I see you have two separate objections: 1) getting a job and 2) doing it. I claim neither is actually that hard, with some baseline level of social/verbal skills/IQ/persistence.

Importantly, #1 comes before #2. I wouldn't worry about #2 until you get there. If you can program, #1 just takes some persistence. Go spam recruiters etc. My spreadsheet is ~100 rows long - I'll have to Sankey it at some point - be prepared to go 5x that. It doesn't take as long as you might think. I can bang out ten contacts in an hour. Even at a leisurely five hours a week, that's 10 weeks.

I couldn't concentrate on my first CS job and got fired for it. It wasn't until job three that I got some momentum, and even that was rocky for well over a year. Some jobs just aren't a fit. Anywhere with micromanagement and scrum meetings isn't gonna be great for me. You might be surprised how much difference the right job at the right moment in your life makes.

One of the best things I ever did for my productivity was to stop trying to put in 9-5 at a computer. If I am at the desk for four hours and trying fairly hard for three, that's an above average day. Charitably, longs walks and naps are part of the job, but even counting them, I don't do 40 a week almost ever. Lifting, ADHD meds, therapy, and generally growing the fuck up made a lot of difference.

remarkable how easy weight comes on .fortunately i got it under control.

I've never had a true job but some Math tutoring to pay for expenses. I am very frugal so that's not a problem but I feel such an enormous failure.

How are your standardized test scores? If you did well on those, during a professional gap I suffered I did test-prep tutoring for rich kids. The actual impact of the tutoring was hit or miss, but I made $75/hr five years ago, and that was working with a "pimp" who handled the business end of it and client recruiting and just told me where to go and who to talk to.

It doesn't help that I started having chronic pain on the right half of my body for no apparent reason.

May seem trite, but after my own struggles with chronic pain, also one-sided, I've come to buy more into the 'biopsychosocial' idea of chronic pain. Or to put it another way, a lot of chronic pain is emotional/related to your life as well as physical. The body and the mind aren't separate, if you have emotional struggles that can come out into your body, etc. PM me if you are curious about reading materials. Otherwise I'd just say yoga and meditation have helped me a lot.

I want to strive for those things but at the same time I'm so tired and just want to disappear.

I know this feeling myself, I'm sure a lot of people do nowadays. Unfortunately life is still hard despite our incredible material abundance. If it helps, many other folks are suffering alongside you. And many have fought through their issues to lead happy lives.

On the job/money side, I have a cousin who leveraged private tutoring into a job at an adult education school that is apparently really cushy. It can happen, although not saying it's likely.

Oh, boy.

  • I am bad at maintaining relationships. Somehow I can't get myself to keep in touch with relatives and friends. The war has made me acutely aware that it's wrong, that it's everyone's last best safety net, but I still prefer to procrastinate instead of writing a "hi how r u" or giving a call.

  • I feel like my career path has been derailed. I am an awesome tech lead, a passable engineering manager, last year I switched jobs to lean harder into the managerial side and got a very nice raise out of it, but now I wonder if I shouldn't have stayed an IC ten years ago. I would've been an awesome dev with a solid set of hard skills and a much more straightforward path out of Russia.

  • Finally, I am worried about my legacy. I am old enough to realize that my descendants will be the only lasting mark, and right now I have nothing to brag about. Just when my special needs son grew old enough not to require too much from my wife and we agreed to try again, the war started. I'm afraid that by the time we properly settle down in another country and can afford a second child we will be well into our forties, not the ideal age to have children, especially when we've already had one misfire.

I am bad at maintaining relationships. Somehow I can't get myself to keep in touch with relatives and friends.

I identify with this so strongly. I wish I was half as good at motivating myself to keep up with everyone's birthdays as I was to keep up with the latest in internet drama.

I should buy a Dutch toilet calendar to force myself to stay on top of birthdays.

Well, that was one I had to Google!

It's amazing to me that my mother-in-law, who barely understands what's going on around her at any point, has every relative and friend's birthday memorized. It has really never occurred to me to become a person who remembers birthdays, but maybe that would be a nice thing to be!

You did ask for insecurities, so I'll list them. In general, I'd say I'm doing fine, but I'd be lying if I said that there aren't things that eat away at me pretty heavily (especially number 3).

1:

I'm currently involved with someone. Someone who I'm incredibly fond of, and who I would very much like to make things work with. His political beliefs and values differ very starkly from mine, though, so much so that they're probably irreconcilable. We've had discussions about various topics and my beliefs haven't changed one bit - his arguments are ones I've heard often before and don't find particularly convincing.

Apart from the obvious problem that poses, I'm aware that people are very capable of self-deception and essentially can delude themselves into adopting beliefs that are convenient to their purposes at the time, and while I would like to believe that my beliefs and values are strong enough that I wouldn't give them up without a principled reason to do so, the thought crops up in my mind again and again that I might compromise my principles for my own personal convenience without even knowing that I'm doing it. I'd view that as an utterly indefensible betrayal of my beliefs and values, and the mere thought that it could happen freaks me out quite a lot.

2:

This one is the polar opposite of your second insecurity - I'm very much not a jack of all trades, I have a tendency to specialise and as a result I have been able to become extremely good at quite a few things that I almost obsessively focus on. The downside to this is that my skillset is very unbalanced - my knowledge and/or skill in other domains can be fairly lacking, despite my generally-pretty-fast learning speed allowing me to compensate to some extent for it, and sometimes I do feel as if I should at least try to be a better rounded person.

3:

This is probably the most significant one and the one which I'm by far most reluctant to write - I have absolutely no clue where I'm going to take my life. For context, I was basically cajoled into taking a degree in a subject I didn't like by parents who thought it was a fantastic idea that I start university study at 12, and who placed an undue amount of pressure on me at a very early age. The cherry on top was that I ended up developing a painful and visible chronic disease which kept me from finding work for years and utterly destroyed my mental health, and now that the condition (and my mental state) is better I'm completely unsure what to do with myself.

At the moment I find myself trying to pick between going through another couple years of university to get a degree in something I like and only then trying to find work, or trying to get a job in my current field now. I'm currently favouring the second option and have made attempts to search for work and interview for roles in my current field, but still the idea that I'm potentially resigning myself to something I genuinely dislike is something that's very difficult to swallow. And being out of university for a few years hasn't helped my knowledge of my current field, nor does it help when I'm trying to find work and employers can pretty easily infer from my CV that there's been a large gap in my life that's unaccounted for. And this is all happening when the specialist I'm seeing has decided I should discontinue my current medication and there's a real risk of the chronic condition reemerging.

All of this isn't a minor setback, it's more akin to "unmitigated disaster". And trying to think about how to recover the situation when things have been so thoroughly derailed is frankly paralysing.

I can relate a lot to your point #3, even down to the chronic health issues.

I went into sales after college, which I don’t like, and I’m still there. That being said I’ve improved other areas of my life around my career and I’m loosely tracking towards switching.

I guess I don’t have a lot of concrete advice but I went through a similar situation, it sucked for a long time, but I am now on a good trajectory. Don’t give up hope.

We've had discussions about various topics and my beliefs haven't changed one bit - his arguments are ones I've heard often before and don't find particularly convincing.

He's your man not mine, but have you tried getting to a deeper level, below what you both believe but why you believe it? I find I can accept people who believe things I don't more easily if I think they believe them for reasons I understand or respect. That can be so hard, when you feel like you've found the right person but some things don't work. All I'll say is that the delta between Right-Person>Wrong-Person can be so much bigger than almost anything else in your life that it outweighs almost everything else. The right partner is the most important decision you will ever make in your life.

RE: Professionally lost

Look, I figure everybody on here is basically like me so forgive me if I go astray, but I also found myself vocationally shipwrecked many years ago, unable to work in my field for reasons I won't go into. I got a "keep me alive" job to tide me over, something "beneath me" blue collar. In a year and a half I was running the place, and honestly it was the best job I ever had for joy. Above average intelligence and a modicum of conscientiousness is a superpower in the real world, go do whatever you want you can probably become at least moderately successful at it.

I got a "keep me alive" job to tide me over, something "beneath me" blue collar. In a year and a half I was running the place, and honestly it was the best job I ever had for joy. Above average intelligence and a modicum of conscientiousness is a superpower in the real world, go do whatever you want you can probably become at least moderately successful at it.

This is an under utilized strategy. My wife stayed home with the kids for most of a decade, and took a low-end clerical job well below her qualifications to re-enter the workforce. She treated it very seriously despite the low status and as a result was handed increasing responsibility as she proved her worth, incidentally getting to do some very cool stuff in the mean time. She was in a management position in under 3 years and handling a big part of the organizational shutdown (planned sunset). Then leveraged that to get her dream job via some bureaucratic parkour I still don't quite understand.

It is very hard to find good, smart, conscientious people. Even if the job is a dead end, others will notice and poach you. And why not do the best you possibly can in your job?

If we're listing our insecurities, I've got plenty to share:

  1. Call it lassitude or simply lack of motivation, but I've never felt driven to any meaningful degree. Life has mostly been a series of taking the easy (or if not so easy, then default) course of actions for me. I didn't feel passionate about medicine, but it was both comfortably familiar and paid better than the alternatives.

That's changed to some degree, now that I've done most of what's required to escape India and practise in the UK, but it's nowhere near gone. I feel like I could hand most of my life over to an autopilot, and in fact I gladly would.

  1. I feel grossly inadequate as a doctor compared to my overachieving family. I'll never be as good a surgeon as my dad or grandpa, not that I wanted to go into that field myself. Chalk it down to ADHD or depression, but I can't lie to myself and claim I'm as good a doctor as they are, I certainly don't read journals and publications unless needed for an exam.

  2. I'm going through a quarter life crisis, prompted by a sense of deep FOMO. I see some of my friends having fun in Uni, whereas all I did and will do for the next decade or so is study when I'm not exhausted by work. And I've found someone I really like, but I still feel like I'm missing out on the wilder side of my 20s, instead of fucking around and playing the field, I'm looking at settling down sooner rather than later. I think the grass might not actually be greener, but god knows I still dream of sowing my wild oats.

  3. It's unlikely I'll be making more than solidly middle class levels of money anytime soon, I simply lack the drive for entrepreneurship, or an interest in the kinds of medical work that pays big bucks, even if UK salaries weren't ass.

  4. I'll miss my family and my dogs when I'm abroad, I barely spent 2 months outside and I was getting super homesick by the end.

Eh, I'm mostly doing ok with the hand I've been dealt. Being born in the 3rd World is no fun at all, and while the end is in sight, I feel like my life is nowhere near exciting as I once dreamt of.

Being a doctor sounds brutal. Have you thought about switching to PT or nursing or something less demanding?

It gets better eventually, when I become a psychiatrist my workload should be significantly lighter, albeit I still hate the very idea of 9 to 5s haha.

Becoming a PT or nurse would require retraining, a loss of both earning potential and actual salary. Plus the latter can be quite hectic too!

Oh cool, I’d imagine psych type stuff is less crazy than hospital work, if still pretty grueling. Good on ya!

I'll miss my family and my dogs when I'm abroad, I barely spent 2 months outside and I was getting super homesick by the end.

I currently live up the street from the house I grew up in, so I can't talk on this one.

If you found someone you really like, you're ahead of the game. Your anniversaries will be trumping your friends' anniversaries forever! Really, I've been with my wife for a decade, and I'm so glad that we met before we started forming baggage when I compare my life with my friends who ran around and have a couple crazy-ex-skeletons in their closets. It's a blessing, even if it can feel like a rip-off, a paraphrase of Augustine "Lord let me find someone, but not yet!"

I wish I had your problems.

  • I'm torn between moving back to the city where my friends, sports club and current and prospective future employers are, and staying in the countryside where there's high trust, family and open country. Can't really move right now, it costs more effort and money than I can afford, but I'd like to think that I do have the option somewhere down the line. Moving back had fewer practical advantages than expected. We were hoping for help with the child-rearing, but my family turned into covid fanatics for a while, and by now are all too old and/or sick and/or mentally wrecked to help, and my wife's family does help but also live far enough away that it's a hassle to get to them.

  • I'm in abominable physical shape. Almost no exercise ever since the beginning of the covid era, recurring knee and back problems that had me unable to walk for a few months, and ever since the last flu my endurance has gone to almost zero. And I'm so busy that I barely even get to take walks. I think I rode my bike about four times in total this year, and went swimming...not at all? Just doing solo exercises bores me to tears. Three years ago my new year's resolution was "go to every tournament I can and give it my best, train as much as possible in between". And I did it, too! For all of three months, and then everything closed down for the so-called pandemic. I feel so very old now.

  • I no longer have the mental capacity to work on my personal projects. Back when I was a student, I used to dream big, then engineer big and actually get big, complicated, impressive things to run in short amounts of time. Now I usually start by cutting back on my plans, simplifying, reducing scope and complexity, and then I still can't get things to work and I'm just too damn tired to come up with solutions that, in the past, would have formed spontaneously in my mind. Feels like my avenues for creative activities have closed.

  • My career is thoroughly stalled. I hesitate to call what I do work - I'm mostly just completely failing to accomplish anything without dragging half the department into helping me. According to my team lead, I just have rotten luck in picking tasks and everything I touch turns out more complicated than anticipated, but this has been going on for almost two years now. According to myself the problem is a combination of my own literal-mindedness - I really suck at reading between lines and connecting dots and understanding people's meaning when their actual words don't spell it out - and a company culture of refusing to write useful task descriptions. The wife very frequently interrupting me at work doesn't help either.

  • Ah, the wife. I hope she doesn't read this. She's a wreck. Mentally, physically, in every regard. She's always been thoroughly troubled, but we muddled along for about ten years now. Love's a hell of a drug when good sense would have told me to GTFO a long time ago. Spends every waking moment loudly worrying about her failing health, is too scared of life to answer the door, has promised and reneged on getting her driver's license for years so and insists on being driven around by me, keeps me from work, and lives more inside her head, inside wishful or fearful thinking, than in the ground-level reality we share. Leaves a trail of trash behind her wherever she goes in the house. "In 5 minutes" from her might mean in ten minutes, it might mean in 45, it might mean never, but it never means in 5. Never says what she means, never means what she says. Some people marry down. I sometimes think I married rock bottom, but at least she doesn't do drugs. And she does have her moments, times when she overcomes her myriad anxieties, or when she does put in some effort to make our life run, and sometimes I catch a glimpse of how things used to be. But most of the time she doesn't, and it only gets worse, and it feels to me that I spend my entire life just propping her up. Disclaimer: She says I'm just as bad as her. I'm skeptical about that.

The are a few bright spots.

  • The child is healthy and enjoys life. She's also complicated, exhausting, inconstant and requires a lot of attention, but I suppose that's normal. Her legs are still a little short and she sleeps through a a little too much daylight, but I look forwarding to taking her hiking, swimming and biking in a few years.

  • I regularly spend time with my ancient forbears, that is to say, with my grandparents who are gunning for 90. They have done much for me throughout my life, and I am glad that I can keep them company when most others have little time or patience for them, and most of their friends have passed.

  • Strict austerity measures have finally gotten us out of a financial slump that saw us unable to pay bills for several months, and the family bank account is very slowly recovering.

How's that for insecurities?

You have my sympathy friend. For what it’s worth, I think a lot of the issues with stress and anxiety nowadays are due to society at large instead of individual failures.

I wish you the best.

How's that for insecurities?

You brought your A-game to this thread no doubt.

I'm happy your child is doing well, and it sounds like you're a good father/husband/son. That's as good a foundation as anything else to build a life on. Here's to a better 2023!

Thanks for the kind words, but I don't think it's quite right to let them stand. I'm an okay dad and son, but there's no need to exaggerate. As a husband it's hard to say, but I'm certainly not a good one. So there's not as much foundation there as one might wish. It's a life running on fumes and inertia, and not much building material left.

Still, 2023 is coming. Maybe things will look better come spring. Here's to sunshine!

I think you could address all of these at once by quitting your job and becoming a full time "Guy who wants to fist fight Andrew Tate" influencer.

That's an excellent point. I'm still not sure who that is, but fuck it let's dance if it'll solve all my problems.

I want to spend more time with my parents, more time with close friends, more time by myself, more time with my wife, more time with my dog, more time traveling, more time at home. Somehow there’s never enough.

This is primarily why I long so much for immortality and am so confused by those who don't or even actively shun it. I want nothing as much as time, to use wisely, to waste, to share and I want it all at a leisurely pace with plenty of time to recount stories with good friends and family. What better dream is there?

Exactly!!! You speak the truth right here. Plenty of this longing is probably due to insane hustlegrind culture in myself. I’m still bitter that women started working 40 hrs a week and yet we got almost no increase in leisure time. Fucking appalling.

My personal theory is that most people deep down just don’t enjoy life that much. They disconnect from it, cut themselves off from the routine pain of their lives and exist for ephemeral pleasures. They’ve given up and just hope to sort of middle along with small bright spots here and there until they die. They can’t imagine living forever because they can’t imagine their lives getting better, or becoming truly happy.

Can’t say I blame them exactly, but I do think it’s short sighted. Most people have the capacity to be far happier than they are now.

There isn't an absolute difference between one person and another person - the only thing that matters is just the physical effects of a person's life and their experiences. So if you have one person who dies, and another person is born, that isn't clearly better than just one person who doesn't die - one person dying is bad, but the second person being born is great! This is how animals have propagated over millions of years, why having children is 'based', and why immortality isn't more important than having more children. Also, if evolution continues apace or gene editing etc, future descendants will have more deep, capable lives than we do. How this combines with AI is unclear though.

There isn't an absolute difference between one person and another person

There of course is though. Especially the difference between oneself and another which can be told just by perspective.

So if you have one person who dies, and another person is born, that isn't clearly better than just one person who doesn't die

It is quite a bit different to the person who died. I'm not totally deaf to this intuition that unborn people deserve moral consideration but the actual living take priority and we're dancing between the individual and societal level frame. It very well may be ideal for society that people be killed off at the age of 55 to make more room for the productive young. But society isn't a death pact, it's an arrangement to enrich the lives of its constituents. A society that uses and disposes of its members on the grounds that it's healthier for the society is an abomination, it is the bad end, it is the boot stomping on your face, and the face of your children, forever.

We may owe things to future generations, I even think that we do, but our lives are owed to no one.

Especially the difference between oneself and another which can be told just by perspective.

Why does this have any particular moral weight? Again keep in mind i'm not endorsing non-particular universalism, i.e. "a random (poor, black) person matters as much as your life" - just arguing that 'you' is not an important particular, even though all the specifics of that experience can be. If humans in 500k bc were capable of 'halting evolution' and living forever, we'd still be them, and be much dumber as a result.

But society isn't a death pact, it's an arrangement to enrich the lives of its constituents

Society can be many things! Why not future people?

A society that uses and disposes of its members on the grounds that it's healthier for the society is an abomination,

On the grounds that it's better for the future members! And this is the tradeoff that nature and evolution made, and it brought us to where we are - 'much longer lives' is entirely biologically plausible, but the evolutionary pressure for success and power means that sexual reproduction and evolving generations was much more useful.

also the obvious "AI rapidly becoming more powerful and impactful than humans makes this mostly a debate of principle"

Society can be many things! Why not future people?

Because you're proposing it's morally neutral to grind up your loved ones and reconstitute them into new people. I do not think this is a morally neutral act.

this is the tradeoff that nature and evolution made, and it brought us to where we are

I don't mean to be the annoying fallacy quoting guy but this is just the naturalistic fallacy. We also got here but untold millennia of rape, enslavement, murder and cruelty. It says nothing of how things ought to be.

Because you're proposing it's morally neutral to grind up your loved ones and reconstitute them into new people. I do not think this is a morally neutral act.

What does 'morally neutral' mean? I'd expect killing to be bad because it terminates a human experience, with all the complexity and ends that entails, but - that's why it's bad! What is there to morality other than ... matter, causation, people, and their lives and experiences? If you're getting - for everyone - a less [great,deep,beautiful,anything] experience in exchange for less overall death (and less birth), what's actually being gained? Again, the analogy is 'human genes frozen forever in 300k BC'. You're preserving "what is", because ... of what? But in another sense "what is", the current status quo, is death and birth and evolution. Imagine refusing an organ transplant, or rejecting 'wound healing', because that's replacing old tissue with new tissue!

just the naturalistic fallacy

I'm claiming the old state of 'nature' gave us a concrete benefit that 'everyone lives forever' would have prevented, and that (again, absent AI) would be lost if implemented today too.

Tangential bits: Mental changes necessary to upgrade a 95iq person to a 130iq person are invasive enough the differences between that, 'that person living forever at 95iq', and 'they die and a new 130iq person is born' are very strange. And there probably is """value""" in particularly smart or capable people living a lot longer than they do today.

ofc i'm aware this is not a position many other than me hold, and it's one that opposes most existing philosophical tendencies

What does 'morally neutral' mean?

It means this that you said earlier "So if you have one person who dies, and another person is born, that isn't clearly better than just one person who doesn't die" If one state of affairs isn't clearly better then the other then it amounts to it being morally neutral whether people die so long as the number of people stay constant. I think this is a very strange thing to think so if you want to disavow the idea I won't blame you.

I'd expect killing to be bad because it terminates a human experience, with all the complexity and ends that entails, but - that's why it's bad!

Killing is just induced dying. Dying does exactly every bad thing killing does by your justification for opposing it.

Mental changes necessary to upgrade a 95iq person to a 130iq person are invasive enough the differences between that, 'that person living forever at 95iq', and 'they die and a new 130iq person is born' are very strange. And there probably is """value""" in particularly smart or capable people living a lot longer than they do today.

This is charitably giving your life for the sake of people who don't even exist and won't resemble you. Would you sacrifice the life of every human to improve the lives of aliens in a far off galaxy that will never know you existed? For ants and polar bears? Perhaps some exotic utilitarian would demand this but I don't know why anyone would find it convincing and even less the types of people who seem to deny that they're actually giving up something incredibly valuable to this aim. Will you at least admit that aging, decaying and dying slowly in your own filth is a tremendous cost that you are stoically willing to pay for these future people?

I have great respect for people who have found causes that they are willing to sacrifice everything, even their lives for, but I can't help but think this view has it backwards, a felt need to justify sacrificing ones life hopeless groping for a justification.

I had a family argument about this. Either you want to live forever, or you want to die, and why the hell would you want to die?!

I think it's cope of the maximum order. One way of accepting death is to believe that you desire it.

Though it's cope, you either have to cope or waste what little time you have in dread.

— I want to spend more time with my parents, more time with close friends, more time by myself, more time with my wife, more time with my dog, more time traveling, more time at home. Somehow there’s never enough.

I feel this strongly, and wish we had more leisure in society. At the least U.S. Seems criminal to me that we've gained so much in material wealth, and yet our lives are more crammed than ever.

I'm also a bit insecure compared to my partner who is far more competent at a lot of things. I mostly just don't enjoy my work, and have dealt with chronic health problems, so I worry about losing the ability to make money and live the life I want to. Ultimately I'd love to quit my career and do something more creative, but I despair that I may never get there. Financial Independence is a ridiculously difficult hill to climb, at least for me.

Envy also eats at me. I have been meaning to get into Girard's theories on desire, but I've noticed as I've aged I become more and more covetous and envious of the people around me. Even though I have always disdained 'Keeping up with the Joneses,' or appearances or however you want to phrase it, status and the respect of my peers has become far more important over time.

Despite the fact that I'm closer to my thirties than twenties, I feel like I have a lot of maturing to do. Mostly in stress-regulating and keeping normal habits. I find it difficult to keep up with the amount of conscientiousness needed for someone in the upper-middle class in our society - clean house, social obligations, interesting/fulfilling career, etc.

Agree that they're all minor in the grand scheme, and I appreciate the sentiment. I wish you luck in the next year.

Envy also eats at me. I have been meaning to get into Girard's theories on desire, but I've noticed as I've aged I become more and more covetous and envious of the people around me.

I've heard of Girard but I'm uneducated on the topic, is there a good primer out there? Status envy can be so destructive, and we can always diagnose it in others easier than we see it in ourselves. I'm vaguely suspicious that a lot of my affectations are obscure flexes that only make sense in my own brain; but I'm glad I missed a lot of the ones my friends have fallen for in housing or careers.

Copypasting a comment I made the last time someone asked for a primer on Girard, pinging @TheDag as well:

The two episodes with Rene Girard on the podcast called Entitled Opinions are really good. He goes over memetic desire as well as his concept of scapegoating. I found everything he had to say very interesting and I listened to the two episodes two years ago but still think of them often.

The first episode: https://entitledopinions.stanford.edu/ren-girard-why-we-want-what-we-want

The second episode: https://entitledopinions.stanford.edu/ren-girard-ritual-sacrifice-and-scapegoat

Thank you for putting in the effort to link these! Will definitely get on listening to them.

https://theworthyhouse.com/2021/03/30/i-see-satan-fall-like-lightning-rene-girard/

Charles Haywood gives a decent summary and review here. He narrates all his reviews, too, so you can listen rather than read if you prefer.

I asked the same question about Girard on here a while back, only response I got was to look into Wanting by Luke Burgis. He was on a podcast I’m familiar with and he got me interested so I should probably get to that.

I feel this strongly, and wish we had more leisure in society. At the least U.S. Seems criminal to me that we've gained so much in material wealth, and yet our lives are more crammed than ever.

I think this is a major misconception about society. Social commentators think Americans are overworked due to forces outside of their control. I think instead Americans are choosing to work longer hours. For three reasons: 1. greater returns to capital in terms of investing (home ownership, stocks) and purchasing power. A century ago, a day's worth of work bought SPAM; now you can buy Netflix subscriptions, TVs, iPhone, etc. This material wealth is part of what creates an incentive to work. 2. Inflated wages creates an incentive work, especially for professionals. In the '70s there was no such thing as the $200k+/year white collar job like we see today. 3. Work is a form of escape and provides meaning to people's lives. This is why the PMC, who may have more than enough money to live comfortably off of, voluntarily continue to put in long hours. Americans could choose to work less and still maintain a good standard of living.

You seem to be taking a naive view that everyone can do every sort of job, and that switching costs don’t exist.

I’ve got serious health issues so physical labor is out of the question for me. Including things like serving and being a clerk etc. Almost 30% of adults in the U.S. have some sort of chronic health issue as well. It ain’t easy out in these streets brother.

What are some of these laid back jobs you are talking about?

My argument is that workers have more utility for the $ they earn: more purchasing power. This creates an incentive to work more than necessary.

Almost 30% of adults in the U.S. have some sort of chronic health issue as well.

The situation does seem pretty bad in this regard.

I mean I don’t understand your argument. Obviously more money = more purchasing power?

I guess what I’m saying is because most higher status higher paying jobs have agreed on a schelling point of at least 40 hours a week, it’s incredibly hard to find a “Good” job that also doesn’t overwork you. Add taking care of a household, handling a relationship, pets, kids, older relatives, etc into the mix and we have almost zero leisure time.

Used to be one adult’s salary could fund a whole household of kids and a spouse. The spouse handled all household stuff so there was more time for leisure. Now both adults have to work full time+ and clean and take care of kids so it becomes an impossible race.

Anyone good at system design interviews (for FAANG or levels.fyi top companies)? I'd love to do some practice interviewing for that. I've got the leetcode part down - happy to trade that, or pay.

I'm intimidated by the idea of doing system design interviews, especially since I am quite ignorant of the industry tools for doing things, as opposed to the entirely bespoke tools used at my FAANG. The answer in practice to "how do we make that scale/be reliable" is "we build it on world class tools that are basically impossible to fuck up."

So going for that diagonal promotion to senior is feeling a little ambitious. I'm glad I'm good with bullshitting in general.

Nine onsites booked for January. I'm thrilled they let you do remote and split across two days. Sleeping in my own bed + the meds not having worn off will be a huge advantage over last time. Between that and the ~100 LC problems I've practiced, feeling pretty good. I can crank out a medium in 3-10 minutes usually. Hards are still a multi-hour pain to get passing, but I can usually find a good approach and get something broken but reasonable coded up in 40 minutes.

Having nine interviews booked sounds absolutely insane to me. I will never have this experience in my life.

Unfortunately, I am now realizing that it is necessary.

The only way to get a fair offer is to have at least 2 other competing offers. Assuming a rather optimistic 30% interview success rate, OP would have to schedule ~9 interviews to have sufficient competing offers for the next negotiation phase.

I know close friends who got a 50% offer-bump just cross-negotiating between multiple offers. I hate interviewing, and have left a lot of money on the table because of the it. My job hops have been fairly under market for my desirability, due to my inability to negotiate against another real offer. (I also refuse to do 5 rounds of Leetcode on principle. I'm weirdly stubborn about some things)

Hell, I'd say that even if you don't want to switch jobs, it is useful to interview outside and get a counter offer from your current company. A close peer of mine got passed up for promotion because the manager has 'no budget' (it would have been a $10k pay bump). Right after, he was offered a $100k one-time-bonus to stay when he put in his resignation letter. Hah, 'No budget', sure....

The only way to get a fair offer is to have at least 2 other competing offers. Assuming a rather optimistic 30% interview success rate, OP would have to schedule ~9 interviews to have sufficient competing offers for the next negotiation phase.

I don't understand how you can even leverage that for 2 interviews let alone 9. Every time I've interviewed at multiple places, one place has been done in 2 weeks, and the other is on round 2 of 5 or whatever.

You have to understand that you have the clout to call the shots on scheduling. If you're looking at somewhere tiny, or a very specific role, it's valid for them to have tight timelines. Otherwise, anything other than "sure, we'll wait 4-8 weeks for you" is just recruiters bullying you. That's rule one imo: recruiter's are bullies. Stand up to them.

If you really don't think you can delay some companies, just do their final round, get an offer, then try delaying again. At that point, you definitely have the clout. They've just ruled out 99 people at great expense to select you. Why would they walk away just because you want a few more weeks?

And even then, "oh gosh, thanks for the offer, I could maybe accept that in 4-8 weeks, but I'd need +20% to accept now" is great negotiation. You need a credible BATNA, and you have it; you've just passed onsite one of eight, you plausibly will pass more. They don't have a credible BATNA, they literally just lose you.

30% interview success rate, OP would have to schedule 9 interviews

I don't know if you pulled up the calculator or have great number sense/luck, but geomCDF(p=.3, x=2..inf) = .49.

It's interesting that the number of interviews I can fit in a month (two weeks if I weren't opting for two-day splits) is what's needed. I can't quite tell if I'm being awkward to make the process move this slowly for everyone. Large companies I assume don't care, but even with medium ones, I worry it's a negative signal. Awkward nerd optimizing the interview process...

I would love actual data on the typical number of onsites people have, and of pass rates. I think it's got to be lower than 10%, but of course I think I'm awesome and will do better than that. Hoping for half. Back when Triplebyte was actually good for something, they'd get you 6-8 onsites, so I think my numbers are fairly standard? Anyone capable of getting FAANG onsites could have arbitrarily many YC-grade startup interviews. I thought about doing it for practice, but meh

I had multiple offers joining my FAANG, and I think it got me +5k signing, +50k equity (100k by vesting). I don't understand why people refuse to negotiate. It's...not that hard, assuming you have the offers.

geomCDF(p=.3, x=2..inf) = .49

Ah damn, I am pleasantly surprised.

So if I understand right, assuming a binomial distribution, the probability of at least 2 successes from 9 tries (at p = 0.3) is almost exactly 50%.

I just threw a ballpark figure that I would be in the right order of magnitude.


I would love actual data on the typical number of onsites people have, and of pass rates

Maybe it's because I apply for ML roles more so than SWE roles , but I usually know from the screening if I will be able to ace the interview. There is weird feeling in the air.

Like its almost more deterministic than probabilistic. I would never give this advice to anyone else. But I do tend to follow vibes-based-interview protocols myself.

So if I understand right,

Right. I should probably have had an ", n=9" in there somewhere.

Probably worth noting that "no budget" might not have necessarily been entirely dishonest. Retention and raises might not fall under the same category.

Yeah, but HR structures the payout to be in those buckets for a reason. If there is a retention budget, you should be using that lever to get what you are due. This is especially true, because replacing you generally means paying a higher fee on the open market. You're purely leveraging every avenue to get paid a fair market value.

System Design Interview – An insider's guide by Alex Xu

Also check out this thread: https://twitter.com/gergelyorosz/status/1395979653534388226?lang=en

This can be useful to read: https://github.com/donnemartin/system-design-primer

Try to familiarize yourself with the process the interviewer will expect. That's usually what kills candidates.

Real on the job system design discussions involve a lot of back and forth with ideas and finding out if you're being clear.

System design interviews can be tricky because you'll need the lingo down and they'll have certain expectations they won't share. Some interviewers make you really push them to find out requirements.

It can also be very frustrating if they just give you a no reaction dead face.

DDIA is the standard resource here. Read it twice, take notes.

Papers from Will Larson's Staff Engineer (ranging from DynamoDB, Raft, Paxos, GFS, etc.) are worth perusing as well (and will pop up as references from DDIA).

Signals and Threads have a few episodes that I think are particularly relevant for system design, and the entire podcast is definitely worth a listen at some point. In no particular order,

  • Swapping the Engine Out of a Moving Racing Car

  • State Machine Replication

  • Clock synchronization

  • Multicast and the markets

  • Build systems

EDIT: remembered a few other fun things I had stumbled upon recently, How We Built r/Place which is a good example of a small concrete project that has non-trivial scalability requirements, as well as Google's Maglev: A Fast and Reliable Software Network Load Balancer.

I really enjoyed the S&T episode, especially since JS is on my onsite list. Thanks! I'll check out the rest of it, too.