You’d think that if by the time you were 21, you’d worked for four New York Times’ bestselling authors, helped sign one of the biggest bands in the world with the digital strategy you laid out, a major player in Hollywood had asked you to leave school to work for him, made enough money to totally support yourself, talked daily with the CEO of a publicly traded company and if sometimes if you decided to really push your luck, you could call up the greatest strategist since Machiavelli for advice, that maybe your parents would have done more than just “come to terms” with the person that you are.
You think maybe you wouldn’t be so angry. That you wouldn’t have to be so quick to turn on people before they turned on you. You’d think that veering slightly from the routine (10-2am daily, 20 miles a week minimum, 2.5 books) might be a source of anything other than anxiety. You’d hope to hell that the high of fitting in double days would last more than a few weeks.
Me: I think I know why I’m so depressed today.
Me: Nobody validated me.
Gf: That’s not very good reason to be depressed is it?
I doubt you’d ever say that. And mean it. And know exactly when you’re due for a crash…the day after something good happens. You wouldn’t ever think you find yourself at the top of the stairs to your girlfriend’s apartment and wonder why you did any of it at all.
But here you are.
It will never be enough. May I never be complete. You never fill that hole. Not this way. So if more is not the answer, where does that leave you?
“You’ve wandered all over and finally realized that you never found what you were after: how to live. Not in syllogisms, not in money, or fame, or self-indulgence. Nowhere.
Then where is it to be found?
Through first principles. Those to do with good and evil. That nothing is good except what leads to fairness, and self-control and courage and free will. And nothing bad except what does the opposite.
Meditations, Marcus Aurelius
If you played and won the lottery tomorrow you wouldn’t stop doing what you’re doing. From what I read, that’s what I would figure. 9/10 people would quit there day jobs, and do…
Read Ecclesiastes. When you get to the top, there’s nothing there.
Yet it’s a spot that MANY people find themselves in. You’ve yet to succumb to utilizing all you have gained to try and find what you need, which often happens with those in situations such as yours. I think that many try to fill their lives with things that they THINK matter, when in reality it’s just stuff. Finding the things that you need is a quest, often long and arduous, and sometimes unsuccessful.
I am just one rung or so above the very bottom. That’s what I’m trying to say. Going from 0 to 1 doesn’t give you a way to live, so 1-500 certainly isn’t either. I’m not saying I wouldn’t kill to climb that high, it’s just I don’t want to do it driven by THAT motivation.
Maybe it only makes sense to me.
Maybe you just like climbing.
Would being where you are now have made you happy three years ago? If so, think about how you’ve changed as a person and whether you’re happy with those changes. If it wouldn’t have made you happy then maybe you’re trying to live up to someone else’s standards of success.
I’m in the same spot on a smaller scale. Things are going great yet I’m not happy, and the harder I try the worse it gets.
Then again, if we were happy what would keep us working for more?
I could be completely off my mark here (and feel free to cut me down to size if I am), but it seems to me that you’re experiencing some level of general disconnect because most people are simply driven by greed or avarice or to compensate for something else missing in their lives… and then they see you, someone with talent, pursuing a slightly different route for reasons they don’t understand — breaking the mold — and it disturbs them.
If I’m talking out of my ass, my apologies — I’m simply not at a point where I can fully empathize with you, because I’ve yet to find, much less surpass, my breaking point. I haven’t vaulted some barrier in my life, or accomplished something of tremendous meaning to me. Maybe I’m still too scared of what will happen, maybe I don’t have the experience and knowledge yet.
I keep reading though, and I think this is what draws in many of your readers, because even when you open up to your audience, you project a sense of self-confidence which everyone wants for his or herself. Hang in there.
If you didn’t need validation you wouldn’t have the drive to all those great things. You might still have the ability and the talent, but if your needs could be sated by having a beer on a leisurely afternoon you probably wouldn’t be working so hard.
You have to deal with the fact that however much better than people you are, they can still withhold their approval – logic doesn’t factor into it and you can’t force them.
I guess that’s a form of power they have over you, but then again it will drive you to have more and more power over them – power that means much more. Understand it and refine it. Decide who deserves it and who doesn’t. Consider the story of the composer in Atlas Shrugged.
Creative energy and depression seem to go in cycles anyway. You might spend lots of energy creating, which inspires and fuels more creation, and then when all is said and done and the rush is over (faster than a run on sentence…) nothing is changed and your great idea/work will be left in your trashcan.
If you are a pro most of your work ends up there, right? Only the best gets out, but still, everything that didn’t make it has a cost. That might seem off topic, but validation is one of those pay offs for energy spent. Otherwise something inside you might determine the energy was misspent and better rationed out elsewhere.
Anyway, depression is just a good time to take a respite from work and fix something else about your life. Start a new cycle.
Or, to say it succintly: people want to be loved for what they love about themselves.
when do you stop? after you make $10 million? $100 million? $1 billion?
what about helping others? do you stop at 1 person? 100? 1000?
one can never stop.. one must go on.
Speaking from my own experience, I’d say it’s a chemical imbalance. Though, I guess that’s kind of obvious on a larger scale, and is a definition (of the human condition), not a solution to it.
You seem to acknowledge it here:
“And know exactly when you’re due for a crash…the day after something good happens.”
I’ve always liked to believe that if I were surrounded with success and women I would be distracted by them, but now I see that that might not be the case.
It’s frustrating because it’s an internal problem, and short of drugs(which don’t really work either), you can only try to alter it through external means (be it success, reading, whatever). Maybe it’s just something that takes a really long time to get used to and will subside as we get older.
I really don’t think that there’s anything that can be done. Acknowledge it, and continue to use it, because it seems to be working.
What’s this? Quarter-life crisis?
I’ve been there in my own way. Not as accomplished as you, but it’s the same theme. You get the things you’ve been trying so hard to get, and it’s comforting and sometimes makes you feel better, but it’s not what you were really looking for. I have even less of an idea of here to go now than you do, but I have faith that something will pop up.
Or maybe this intellectual stuff has it all wrong and the solution is to get validated in some of the shallowest ways possible.
Just a thought.
Someone call a WHAAAmublance.
Ryan, I know exactly what you mean. You search for the answer and you think, “if I can accomplish this, I’ll finally be happy.”
And it only becomes worse when you realize that you won’t be. And I imagine, the closer to the top you get and the fewer goals you have to comfort yourself with, the more disillusioning it must be.
I’m not so entrenched into it as you are, but I know how vicious a cycle it becomes. And I’m nowhere close to beating it either.
And after reading all the other comments on this post, and seeing how far off the mark they are, I wonder if I am relating on the same level you’re writing from…
Your list of accomplishments is not complete. I don’t want to sound over dramatic, but you have affected alot of people with this blog.
Your blog, and the books/authors that have been introduced to me by it, are pretty much the sole reason why I’ve started working out, reading, and decided to do something for myself in life. I’m sure that a decent amount of others have been affected in the same way.
You have touched your readers on a personal level with your posts and have instilled in them a drive to become better people. That should validate you more than anything.
Ilan, I read your comments and found out that you’re JUST like Ryan Holiday. Wow.
After going through all of the comments, I was blown away to see that someone knew EXACTLY what Ryan meant. It’s probably so comforting for Ryan to finally know that he’s not alone on this one.
If Ryan ever posts about how he farts after he eats Cajun food, I’m going to respond just like you did to let him know that I’m on the same page.
Holiday, if you have nothing that interests you, maybe you want to consider helping with my Tucker Max related internet project that Tucker has asked me to ask for your help with and will tie in to publicity for I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.
The only issue is this: I am a good friend of Tucker’s and have known him for 4 years before you ever knew him. We have been working on something big this whole time, but I have done a lot of the planning since he’s been busy with the low level stuff. But we run this as a split cell. So first we were Deny – Deny and now we are going to go Admit – Deny.
Admit – Deny Cell is like this:
Tucker to Me: Tell Holiday to fucking read the shit and help out.
Me to You: Holiday, Tucker has asked me to get your help with this project, it’s partly a publicity boost for I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell that will be really big. But if you ask him he will deny it.
Holiday to Tucker: Is this true you are working on this?
Tucker to Holiday: No, stay the fuck away from this guy, he is lying, I am not working with him, and his idea is a fucking poisonous disaster.
You: Better avoid this guy, Tucker must be right.
Tucker to Me: Why the fuck is he not working with you?!
Me to Tucker: Guess you broke his psychological frame. I don’t think he can handle seriously contradictory realities coming at him from two people.
Tucker to Me: Tell him to figure out how or fuck him.
Me to Holiday: You need to get involved in this and be able to handle contradictory realities coming at you from two people you both work for.
However, I don’t think you responding to my e-mails will work.
This is a Split Cell:
Tucker to You: Don’t listen to this guy and don’t help him. This idea is a fucking disaster. Don’t take his e-mails, delete them or forward them to me.
Tucker to Me: Get him to work with you. We need to get this thing going fast.
Me to Tucker: I can’t handle the idea that I am sending him e-mails he’s not reading. Can you tell him to write me back?
Tucker to Me: No, he can’t write back, it fucks Admit – Deny because I know him and he is my assistant.
Me to Tucker: So what do we do?
Tucker to Me: Just start explaining it in comments on his blog and if he publishes them you know you’re getting through without me having to psychologically break him again and again to test his loyalty.
Indirect Communication and Undetectable Relationships:
One form of indirect communication and an undetectable partnership could be formed by someone disseminating information on a project by leaving comments on your blog. The reasons for this would be if they need to both tell you about it and get the info to people you know, but without you ever committing either publicly or even in private e-mail communication.
Why would we do such a thing?
Well for one, if the nature of the project was such that it might get the attention of people who can read your e-mails or track your phone calls.
Tucker to Me: Use indirect communication, comment on the blog so he never has to write you back. We can’t have any proof of the relationship existing.
Tucker to You: What the fuck are these comments on your blog?!?! I have no idea what the fuck this is and this guy is making up that I talk to him.
You to Tucker: I don’t know, strange stuff but there seems to be some thought behind it so whatever. Probably just some internet wackjob.
Me to You: Best way to deny relationship is to pass it off as some internet wackjob.
This is an example of multiple conflicting memetics that can be used for either admittance or denial of a working relationship that relies on indirect communication.
The status is thus:
If you’re as dodgy with your parents as you are with the people who read your blog in terms of: what you actually do, who you actually work for and whether you make any money doing so, I completely understand their point.
Me, I followed the right path: got a scholarship to a good high school, followed it up with a free ride to college, finished early, found a well-paying but thankless, drone job and couldn’t be more miserable. I hate the outcome, but I did what I was supposed to and my parents are proud, which is all I’d really been shooting for.
My younger brother went to a public high school, dropped out of college and created his own path in life, which is what it seems like you’re trying to do, minus (thank God) the pretentious and condescending attitude.
Another few differences – he didn’t need a “mentor” like Tucker to push him in that direction, the web site he started in high school earned him gigs that have resulted in his merchandise/product being sold in real stores with his real name attached, he spends his time between jobs earning money off “new-media” innovations (hint: they’re not blogs) and oh yeah, his parents and his older brother are proud as shit and let him know every chance they get.
I’m jealous of him, and I make no bones about it, not just because he makes a lot more money than I do. It’s because he had the courage and conviction to follow through with his ambitions.
That’s probably why I enjoy your blog: it’s an unintentionally hilarious reminder of what he could have become if he wasn’t so good at what he does.
Stop being such a fake, boastful and arrogant jerk-off on your web site, own up to who you are and what you do and your parents might actually give you the validation you need. And stop listening to the commenters who kiss your ass – they all think you got your awesome Tucker internship gig because of that ridiculous article you wrote about him and figure the same might happen to them.
Do fairness, self-control and courage give you comfort? Can they give you meaning? I would have a hard time looking back at my life and say “Yes, I increased fairness and I have showed always self-control. I must have done good.”
As you had taught me: Aurelius had also his opium to live the stoic life.
Did you actually read about the opium theory? It’s not only been widely reputed by scholars but if you read the original paper, you can see the guy is an idiot.
Does it really make you that angry that I don’t use people’s real names? Maybe it’s just because they asked me not to.
I’m sorry. I won’t have any more mentors.
Indirect Communication In a Split Cell And: We Have a Situation
Person 1: Sends direct communication via phone that is ignored or e-mails that aren’t answered.
Person 2: Public Communication Via Blog relevant to long term mission.
So have you seen Tucker’s Post “If you love it, set it free?” This post is telling me that we have a situation in Shreveport and the situation is Matt is changing Tucker’s Avatar significantly and re-defining Tucker Max.
What this post tells me is that Matt is not getting his vision and not seeing the big picture. However, Tucker cannot make him see the big picture because if he tries to, the entire cast and crew starts to freak and panic because they cannot handle the big picture.
Tucker said that his image is going into the creative ether, which means we are clear for Third Avatar creation, which is what I was waiting on and I figured we would be good to go sometime soon.
What this means is I need to change directions a bit and create a Third Avatar for Tucker and ideally get it going to some extent before the movie comes out.
What I am going to do is start feeding you some disconnected pieces of information that will come together when we have to put things together.
Lesson 1: The Tucker Max Message Board is an Information Warfare and Psychological Warfare Training Center that uses the hardcore fan’s constant seeking for Tucker’s approval to turn them vicious and nasty. Wahoo’ing is training for attacks on someone’s reputation using the internet.
You know from Greene that reputation is the Cornerstone of power, and in the digital age a Wahoo can seriously damage someone’s reputation by making them poisonous to Google. So for example, a Wahoo on someone like Dimeo damaged his reputation enough so that he had to sue Tucker, which he lost, further damaging his reputation.
This is warfare in the digital age and it can be as brutal and nasty as real warfare.
In the age of mass media, one gains power over the public through their Avatar, which is their public image.
According to Tucker’s Post, Matt is taking his character in a direction that is going to alter or change his Avatar in a way that would be detrimental to some of our long term objectives.
However, Tucker feels that the best thing to do is let Matt take the Avatar where he wants and not interfere.
Now, you also know from Greene’s book that the 48th Law of Power is to Assume Formlessness. One way to do this is to have multiple Avatars coming from multiple sources.
Tucker has one Image he has created through his book. Then there is another Tucker that Matt is creating. Then there is a Third Tucker that I am going to create, ideally to some extent knowable before the movie hits.
I wasn’t sure if I should wait until after the movie, but since Matt is taking Tucker’s character somewhere else and Tucker says he is destroying the real Tucker, we just will go Third Avatar.
Memetic Avatar Formation: A grouping whose meaning is not immediately understandable, but is written down for reasons of later understanding. In other words, just read the group and later you will get who they are and what their connection is to Tucker and the plan.
This group of Five Avatars is called Osha Kali:
1. Tucker Max
2. An Unknown
3. Mark Zuckerberg (C.E.O. of Facebook)
4. Win Butler (lead singer of an indie rock band called The Arcade Fire)
5. Ivanka Trump (daughter of Donald Trump)
Ok, so that is some info, you won’t get all of it such as what Osha Kali is but it’s important to read even if you don’t understand it yet.
As for who I am, I am what is called a Mythological Engineer.
Invisible Colleges are schools that teach things you can’t learn in any books or at any publicly known Universities be they Harvard or Yale or whatever. Examples of Invisible Colleges and their specialties:
Haishin V – Mythological Engineering. This is where I went to school. Creation of new mythologies and study of old mythologies be they the Iliad or The Bible.
Oja – Sexual Engineering. This is where Tucker studied. Sexual Engineering is a very complex social science that is about how sexual attraction is controlled, influenced, and moderated.
For example, you know how you have jocks and nerds in America and jocks get the girls but nerds don’t? Completely artificial creation of Oja and created through Hollywood and the social engineering behemoth that is American Football with its cheerleaders and Superbowls and movies about football jocks.
Chimera – Linguistic Engineering, Linguitechture. The control, structure, and planning of language itself. The guys from Chimera write Merriam-Webster and control the English Language and decide what is a word and what isn’t.
Invisible Colleges used to be what they called the secret society schools you may have heard of if you’ve ever read about things like the Illuminati and ‘arcane knowledge’ schools, but in recent years they’ve gone mostly digital which means they no longer have any sort of headquarters at all.
Invisible Colleges recruit mostly out of a set of Boarding Schools in the Northeast and they look to get you out of high school. In the old days most Invisible Colleges were attached to the Ivy’s such as Harvard and Yale that these schools were feeders for but in the modern era since we’ve had digital tech they now use the same feeder schools but spread the kids out more after high school graduation.
So for example, I am Haishin V which is Mythological Engineering. I was recruited out of Phillips Exeter Academy. Tucker is Oja which is Sexual Engineering and he was recruited out of Blair Academy.
In Osha Kali Avatar Set, you have:
1. Tucker Max – Blair Academy (Oja)
2. Me (Phillips Exeter Academy) (Haishin V)
The others are from the same set of schools and were indoctrinated either knowingly or a couple unknowingly.
3. Win Butler (Phillips Exeter)
4. Mark Zuckerberg (Phillips Exeter)
5. Ivanka Trump (Choate-Rosemary Academy)
We are also using as a primary Avatar but who is not in Osha Kali:
Topher Grace (Brewster Academy)
Whaaaaat the fuck is Vincent saying? Is that the same guy who’s been posting stupid shit under all the different names and the same IP?
In some ways, I’m not that surprised he’s fixated upon you and Tucker. Wow.
I did not want to follow the Aurelius Opium discussion.
My first questions remain. If fairness and self-control provided you the happiness that you were longing for, then I am happy for you. I just have a hard time understanding how these values can give meaning – how these values could be first principles.
I LOVE to comment on stories I don’t bother to follow. It’s a great policy.
But dude, step up. Name some better first principles than fairness and self-control. I think most of us to be hardpressed to find any that aren’t extrapolations of those main concepts. That’s why they’re “first” principles.
Tree Frog, what does “I’m not that surprised he’s fixated upon you and Tucker” mean? Can you even explain that?
Other possible first principles: listen to your needs and follow your will. Another possible first principle: Be authentic.
First philosophical principles! Happy day! I haven’t followed these goings-on super closely, but I assume that your designation of fairness and self-control as your two chief first principles comes from Marcus Aurelius somehow. To me, the best thing about Aurelius’s book is how it starts-he gives fairly detailed outlines of what he knows and who taught him what he knows. Doing this, constantly, is the only way to be an interesting thinker. The rest of the book is good, but insight-wise it pales in comparison to Nietzsche, Rochefoucauld, Balzac.
Here’s the only first principle you motherfuckers will need, courtesy of Fred N:
“Make it a rule never to withhold or conceal from yourself anything that may be thought against your own thoughts. Vow it! This is the essential requirement of honest thinking. You must undertake such a campaign against yourself every day. A victory and a conquered position are no longer your concern, but that of truth-and your defeat also is no longer your concern!”
I think that the technocrat types usually attracted to this site and sites like it don’t realize the full implications of something like that. Fred is not talking about questioning your professional or even romantic or filial decisions-anyone who isn’t an idiot should know that decisions of that order deserve thorough analysis and self-doubt. He is talking about the most basic justifications you hold for allowing yourself to walk through the world as a viable entity. You must question your right to exist, constantly, and with nuance and vigor. If you do that, everything else is easy.
And what do you technocrats mean by fairness? Does that mean respecting other people’s rights to their flaccidly-concluded prejudices? Fairness is not a virtue-it is the opposite. Rudeness is much, MUCH more virtuous than fairness. What could possibly be more kind than being rude to a friend- forcing him, by your cleverness and eloquence, to examine his prejudices?
But most people, ESPECIALLY technocrats, do not want philosophical truth. They want something that will allow them to continue living at least a close facsimile of what their current life-justifications are.
Tell me honestly – do you really think that be authentic and listen to your needs are more than semantically different than be fair and be self-disciplined?
Yes, I do. I think they are very different. Being too self-disciplined can run often against your own needs (e.g. the monk in celibacy). If I think about authenticity, I think about creation…
I value both self-discipline and fairness, but those values couldn’t comfort me on hopeless days.