Our angst-ridden 20’s

A small part of me wonders why working on Wall Street or as a consultant was never a dream for me even though so many of my college friends went into these careers. I understood their dreams and their aspirations, and even admired a few of the ones whom I could tell would be successful or work themselves dead trying. And yet I always sat by smugly in my premed world, knowing that even though our work would be equally challenging (me as a surgeon, they doing what ever it is Wall Street people do at 3 a.m. – fixing spreadsheets? Yelling into expensive phones? Flying to Dubai? Making particularly persuasive Powerpoint slides?) – even though we would both work 80-100 hour weeks – I would be engaged in what would superficially seem the more noble profession.

Yet I never questioned why having to work a 80-100 hour week, whether as a physician or a lawyer or a banker, was something that I valued. After all, what could be more boring than that classmate who graduated college and took up a “corporate job” at some rural head office, working 9-5? Doesn’t that mean you’ve already given up in life and joined the workforce alongside our well-intentioned but oh-so-boring parents?

Recently, however, I read a fabulous Financial Times article about the emergence of a generation of young 20 and 30 somethings who struggle to define their life goals, clinging to what this writer deems “the popular fallacy that you can measure the value of your job (and, therefore, the amount you are learning from it) by the amount of time you spend on it.”

Way to burst the bubble of every eagerly-overworked medical student ever.

Read the article for yourself.

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2 thoughts on “Our angst-ridden 20’s

  1. Certainly applies to startups as well.

    Occasionally I’ve met people who are genuinely really, really, really interested in finance. The vast majority who head to wall street aren’t though — I think for most it’s a fear of figuring out what they really want in life (no shame in not having that quite figured out by 22!), and taking a prestigious job as a temporary or default fallback.

  2. We are forced to decide what we will “do” with our lives fairly early on. I think many people are drawn toward medicine/finance by the allure of prestige and 6 figure incomes. While this is fine for many I think it also leads to a certain amount of dissatisfaction. I would wonder how levels of satisfaction vary in people who partake in “second” careers later in like, when they presumably know themselves better. I would suspect they are significantly higher regardless of income or prestige level of the new career.

    Survivor DO

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