Isn’t it interesting how the big life insights of people always sound trivial? Like “and then I realized it doesn’t matter what others think.”
This kind of insight is everywhere, in every second self-help book and motivational poster. And yet if people think they have finally understood it, they talk about with shining eyes, like it was a message from heaven that suddenly hit them.
The point is of course that while it is easy to understand intellectually, it is very hard to obtain emotional understanding. This is why preaching to others they should not care what other people think is useless, and why it is also stupid to think that this is a trivial insight. It is trivial intellectually and non-trivial emotionally.
I recently visited a job counsellor who told me that getting yet another degree at my point in life was a bad idea, and pushed me in the direction of getting some kind of quant job in finance, insurance etc, the normal thing that people with my background do. He also strongly advised me to get a Linkedin profile, which I really didn’t want to do because the entire social media crap makes me very tired and annoyed and Facebook is already annoying enough.
Yet of course after a few days of internally debating with him I decided it could not really hurt to try, made a Linkedin profile and started to find out where all my colleagues that were part of the mass exodus that my field recently experienced have ended up.
Yep, practically all of my former colleagues have some kind of quant job now: Most work in data science, data analytics, some in technical consulting. Many of them have profile pictures where they suddenly look very business-like and wear suits, and blab about the usual things one blabs about on Linkedin profiles, and they look like they have become different people and claim to be excited about adding value to their companies while a short while ago they claimed to be terminally excited about the exotic subfield they worked in.
While this irritated me, I still felt a sudden and strong pull to follow in their footsteps. I couldn’t fight it and started to frantically search for job ads in big data. I noticed that the prospect made me unhappy, but I was unable to weigh my unhappiness higher than the fact that everyone else with my background is seemingly doing the same thing, and it is not what I do. I also felt I really had to hurry up and get a job like this now, possibly before I could think about it too much. I found lots of reasons why this was a good idea. I like data and statistics, really, I miss analyzing data.
Yet looking at the typical, incredibly fake and cheesy ads of the kind of company my colleagues now work at makes me want to curl up and forget that the world exists. God, how I hate this kind of consulting/management/huge company which changes the world for the better bullshit. I get so tired thinking about it. I have always been this way; as a teenager, when I looked at typical job ads in the news paper “sales regulation software management technician for a consulting company specialized on textiles” I decided I did not want to grow up and instead hide in a hut in the wilderness somewhere.
And probably this extreme nausea about typical job ads made me want to do something radically impractical, which I did; for me having a job in a relatively esoteric field has always partially been a protest and escape from the kind of jobs that most people seem to do, although of course I intellectually know that this is the way the world works and that if everyone thought like me blabla etc.
The more I look into jobs in the quant field the more depressed and tired I feel, and yet I am still not sure if maybe I am deluded in my wish of not wanting to be a data analyst or technical consultant.
I am not trying to claim that I had a big insight along the lines of “It does not matter what others do”. I didn’t have this insight on an emotional level. I understand intellectually that I need to find out what is right for me, and that what others do should not matter, but still I suspect that they might know something that I don’t and are ahead of me.
My conclusion for now is that other people’s actions seem as foreign to me as the migration of salmon and yet I want to be like them and really migrate with them wherever they go.