Nothing to lose

People say: “do it while you’re young, you’ve got nothing to lose.”

But young people are losing the most precious thing: time.

I felt a lot of anxiety about what to do with my youth, and I think a lot of young people feel this on some level.

So why do people say this? I think they are admitting something with hidden envy: “I feel tied down. I’ve taken on commitments and obligations I don’t want, and I don’t know how to get out of them. If I make a wrong move, I’ll lose my fortune, I’ll lose my house, my business will go south, I’ll lose my reputation. But you, young person, you don’t have these things yet, so you can still be carefree.”

We all long for a carefree past that may never have existed. And while we’ve overcome our youthful anxieties, or at least ignored them, we’ve found other things to take their place. Things that don’t increase our happiness, but that control us nonetheless: a lifestyle we can’t afford, status in the eyes of others, the fear of shame, commitments we never agreed to.

Why do we work so hard to keep things that don’t actually make us happy? Here I can only speak for myself.

There are really two things I might lose. There are things that are genuinely meaningful to me such as family, friends, or objects of personal significance. But then there are less authentic values: a nice house, a fancy car, nice clothes, status, and so on.

I’ve found that the second group of things, the less authentic group, is a convenient distraction from the first. Authentic values include the unpleasant fact of loss: the loss of those values, and in the end, my own mortality.

Trivial distractions are a cocoon from responsibility of what really matters.

When we prioritize some things over others, we’re admitting that energy, time and life are finite. We can build our whole life around things that don’t actually matter just to avoid facing realities about ourselves and our existence. This is why we fight tooth and nail to maintain appearances and keep the job we hate, while never living the adventure we were really meant to.

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