submitted 11 months ago* (last edited 11 months ago) by required@lemmy.world to c/nostupidquestions@lemmy.world

In the last year or so I started to see so many people of my age that have done truly incredible things and still doing more.
For the vast majority of my life my only goals were gettimg academic satisfaction and doing unproductive stuff in the free time to get temporary pleasure. No end goal whatsoever.
I kind of don't know what I've been doing in the last 17 years while someone gets a patent on solar systems, other invents a new recyclable plastic, and another found a successful startup. I mean, they all find what they're supposed to be doing with their lives and excel in them.
I feel overwhelmed for trying to pace up with these kind of people. Yet I don't like the way the things are and I can't do anything but envy those people.
Anyone with experience in this regard? How did you deal with this? Did you eventually "pace up" with these people or was it too late or an unattainable goal?
Edit: Whoops, I didn't expect so many replies! Thanks, I'll look into them all

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[-] netvor@lemmy.world 12 points 11 months ago

I don't know if I'm answering, but few years ago I've figured out and started to test this hypothesis:

Memory is context-driven, and such is our own ability to retrospect about spent time.

For example, let's say I spent whole Saturday doing one of my favorite combos; playing Factorio and listening to podcasts. Next day I would go to a dinner with a friend who (as most people on the planet) is not really interested in neither of these things. There's no way I could justify day spent, to my friend it would look like time wasted. Thing is, it's actually easy to come to a similar conclusion just myself -- I would feel like from some "objective", "classic" point of view, the time spent in Factorio was wasted.

However, one thing is easily missed: due to the contextual nature of our memory, the memory spent in one mindset (playing Factorio with podcast) is not readily available outside that mindset. (It has to be like this to some extent, right? we don't need to remember how to ride a bike when not close a bike!)

It sometimes happens to me that when I open old map from Factorio, memories from "the Factorio mindset" would start coming (including topics from podcasts or audiobooks), as if I visited some old place. If my friend walked up to me while I'm playing Factorio and asked me about how I spent my time, I could probably share lots of stories about how I came up with this structure and how I found myself stranded among enemy bases, etc. It's he change of context that prevents me to do so at the Sunday dinner -- part of the new context is that I'm with someone who's not interested in Factorio or podcasts.

The question is then, do all these experiences contribute in a positive way to something more long-term, like my personality? While playing/listening, am I training something that is going to be useful later on? It boils down to comparing what else could I have done, which is ultimately a futile enterprise anyway.

TL;DR: Could it be that in retrospect time can feel wasted but it's just because we're trying to "reach" the time from another context? Maybe we always spend our time the best way we can, it's just that we're not equipped to judge the time properly, at least not from any context.

[-] netvor@lemmy.world 4 points 11 months ago

I just figured out a better example:

You can spend Saturday walking through forest, or walking by the lake, or gardening at home. Let's say that objectively, all of the three activities are identical in terms of value added to your life.

You choose the lake.

Next day an alien/angel figure appears and asks you to judge and justify to him how well you spent the time, on a scale 1 to 10. Your judgment, feeling, and answer is going to vary based on where you exactly are when being asked:

  • If you happen to be by the same lake again, you will give 10. Your brain will be much better at producing the justification by reminding you what you have seen and thought about.
  • If you happen to be by the forest, then you will give 5. It will be harder to come with justification, your memories won't be accessed so readily. However you're still "on a walk", so there's some overlap
  • If you happen to be at home gardening, you will give 3. You are now in a completely different mindset and you have probably realized few more things to do in the garden.

Of course, your judgment will vary based on other factors as well, such as your mood, or your relation to the figure.

So my point is that no matter any objective measure (if such thing even exists), your judgments of the time spent will vary by many factors, and the difference in context will certainly contribute to the difference in judgment.

[-] required@lemmy.world 1 points 11 months ago

Your example kind of assumes every option is created equal. It definitely isn't.
I get a much better analysis of what I have done in my past as time passes. I realize I missed so many objectively good paths. I wish I could see what I'm currently doing in retrospect from future. Like, my future self comes and give me advice

[-] netvor@lemmy.world 2 points 11 months ago* (last edited 11 months ago)

My example explicitly assumes them equal because it's trying to isolate and illustrate the factor of memory context.

In real life, options are never really equal, but you also never have enough information to sort or compare them properly. Whatever path you choose is eventually judgment call.

I like to imagine that decision process, and every decision process like this: Inside of my mind there's a painter, painting a picture for me. My cognitive skills are his painting skills. Health of my mind is health of his hands and his eyes. The information that I have is colors and shapes that he can use. He paints a picture, then I look at it and decide, entirely on gut feeling that I get from the picture.

Any decision that I make, and any action that I do, can only ever activated using feelings. Rationality is essential and possible, but rationality is for the painting. The action must come from the feeling.

Pictures are painted over pictures every second, and by the time we reach adult age, there are thousands if not millions of pictures painted over and over. However, some pictures are bigger than others so they rarely, or never get painted over. They can stay there for years on end. Often, pictures painted by much younger painter with far less skills and information will stay. Some of them are happy and fascinated with the beauty of the world, sometimes, some of the old pictures will be unsettling, like the kinds of pictures abused children would draw. They can stay there, lurking in the background, making us feeling like we're watched, like we owe them something.

It's these old pictures that can alter our feelings in a way that does not seem rational--why do I feel my time is 99% wasted could be example of that--you feel it because it's the feeling you get from some of the many old pictures in the corners of the canvas. There's nothing wrong with you: the feeling is true to the picture--any of us would feel the same from the same canvas. There's no reason to blame yourself.

There's also nothing wrong with the pictures, and nothing wrong with the little painter that painted them years ago. These were his shapes, colors and his skills. So there's also no reason to blame the painter. After all, he's frozen in time, there's no point in blaming a memory, memories cannot change.

You can, in some meaning, however, connect to with younger painter in terms of understanding him and his situation a bit better and seeing which pictures are still relevant to you. Some of them will, for some of them you will already know better. Then, maybe you can work with the current painter and get him to re-paint some of the old pictures or at least mark them as the historical artifacts that they are. It's all hard work but you're not alone.

To some extent, maintaining the paintings and teaching the painter is the point of life. We were never meant to be alone in that.

[-] required@lemmy.world 1 points 11 months ago

Sorry for the short reply, I think what you're pointing out is very well described but I'm not equipped to deal with it

[-] required@lemmy.world 0 points 11 months ago

I hate the painter with a passion. He was incredibly dumb and even he knew it. And it's not just "memory", it was precious youth time that is lost. I'll never be a highschooler again. I'm angry. I'd be happier if my past didn't exist

[-] netvor@lemmy.world 1 points 11 months ago

Well the past does not exist in any meaningful way, does it? Maybe the past painter was "stupid" (I would not express it in that way) but doesn't it mean that the present one is smarter?

I am not a doctor, professional psychologist or anything even remotely close. As far as I know, having strong (especially negative, such as shame or hate) feelings towards your (past) self can be a residue of a normal reaction to abnormal circumstances, otherwise known as psychological trauma.

It's worth knowing that psychological trauma is really common. When I say "common", I don't mean to diminish it -- quite opposite, psychological trauma can be pretty debilitating. What I mean is that many aspects of psychological trauma have been known and studied for a long time, and lot of methods have been developed to explore it and help people deal with it -- or even heal it. I suggest you try and find someone safe to talk to.

Trained therapists are excellent for this, because, well, they know lot of effective methods on how to help people speak, and second, they are normally from outside of our close circles, which is a surprisingly huge advantage. I've experienced this myself: as soon as I sat into that comfy chair, I've realized that this nice person was not ever going to judge me (she's probably heard sh*t i can't even imagine). Within first five minutes of conversation I've already noticed myself, how I put away a mask I didn't even know I was wearing. If only for this single realization, it was worth it.

this post was submitted on 09 Jul 2023
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