I turned 39 this year and can say unequivocally it’s not worth it. I was hospitalized in a psychiatric facility 3 times in 1 year in my late 20s and spent all my 30s recovering from the trauma of high achievement bound for absolutely nowhere.
I’ve been incredibly successful on paper but miserable my entire adulthood and adolescence. Worse, I don’t have a dime to show for it because creating my own success almost always meant volunteering and ultimately launching self-funded ventures when established volunteer options hit the ceiling. Worst of all, I don’t even have a terminal piece of paper or “list” to show for it.
Meanwhile, volunteering 100 hours a week — even in my own company — led to so many health problems and pain in so many places that I became entirely bedbound for over a year. Yet I continued work remotely from bed and even enrolled in another degree program online. Not even burnout, mental illness, and immobility combined could stop the runaway success train. There was always a problem to solve, a shiny new opportunity to chase.
It took waking up from reconstructive surgery just two weeks ago for me remember to what it feels like to wake up rested and pain free before the nerve block wore off. As determined I was to get back to work after my nervous breakdown 10 years ago, it took only the simple act of being able to walk down the hall the bathroom (after a year of diapers) for me to reprioritize my health and wellness.
At the same time, I’m still shooting for a “40 under 40" list with less than a year to go , although I’m resigned to settle for “50 under 50" (or x under/over x) if it comes to that.
At this point, I don’t need to be the best or the top, but I want my *** **** participation award. After all I’ve been through chasing impossible goals (clearly for the sole purpose of entertaining previous generations), I want — I need some damn recognition!
No matter. Not only am I too tired to feel embarrassed and too numb to feel anything at all really, but quite frankly, I’m honestly hoping for a bestselling memoir about my failures if nothing else.
See — it never stops. And unfortunately, there is no therapy for suitable for my generation. Gaslighting Boomers have only exasperated the problems.
I share all this to say there’s possibly still hope for you.
I felt exactly as you expressed by my early 20s only to spend another 20 years killing myself slowly.
Please don’t do it.
You’re right — it’s not you, it’s society and it’s not getting better any time soon.
I don’t know what to tell you to do or how to live instead, but I can tell you the achievement path leads only to only to early morbidity. You will wish for death only to be kept alive by modern medicine. It’s not worth it.
It’s. Not. Worth. It.