November 16th, 2021 | The Edge of Seventeen

At the End of Life

Last week I went to the meetup of the local student business club. One might think: “Nothing special, it’s just a meetup.” Well, yes… and no. These people are at the end of their undergraduate studies – all of them between 20 and 25. They use to meet at these evening meetups to talk about economy and investing, present to others what they have recently learned, and discuss investment strategies in a group. These discussions often last till late in the night. No one pays these folks for doing this. What for? They all volunteer and are proud of it. It’s their hobby and their passion after all. 

I sigh whenever I think about what will happen to most of these people in just a few years from now. At 30, most of them will start pricing their time per hour. They will manouver like wild eels to try to spend as little time as possible to earn as much as possible. They won’t make a presentation about anything just like that ever again. They will first negotiate hard and make sure that the payout is satisfactory.

They will become cold cynics. They will talk about what they do for a living using pseudo language such as “contribute,” “provide value,” “build communities,” “raise awareness” etc. While in fact, all they will be doing, will be sucking money from their employers or straight from the government. They will officially have some goals and dreams. But these dreams will mostly concern the way they want to feel about themselves – rather than the problems they would like to solve for other people. They will only be alive on paper. In reality, they will be the walking dead. 

Just like most of my peers are. Perhaps that’s why I attend these student meetups instead of hanging out with people of my age at the same time. Every time I sit there at the meetup, it feels as if cynism didn’t exist in this world at all. No one counts the presentation slides. No one counts the beers. No one counts the hours. These meetups are such a blessing! And if I was asked to explain what youth means to me, that’s exactly what I would say: It means that you just don’t count stuff. 

A Note On Convenience

I don’t know what I could do to make other people stay (mentally) young. Convenience is such a slow, dangerous, vicious disease. It takes over your brain day by day and slowly turns you into a zombie. 

I guess the best I can do is not to turn into a zombie myself. And, I like to think that surrounding yourself with “the right people” is just not enough. In fact, the only way not to become a zombie is to keep saying “no” to convenience. Take any opportunity. Drink with anyone. Avoid locking yourself in a bubble. 

So, I still take the last trains after midnight from time to time. I still fall asleep on the trains out of tirement sometimes. I take the cheapest flights even if it means waking up at 4am. I go shopping once or twice a year. I don’t surround myself with more items than necessary. I barely keep any furniture round me. I don’t even own a bed, I only keep a mattress.

And I talk to everyone (it’s my worst drug after all…) – especially to those with a mindset fundamentally different from mine. I dine with my 20-year-old, left-winged libertarian housemates. I chat with 60-year-old folks who start talking to me in the sauna. I don’t shy away from chatting with shady people sitting in shady corners of shady clubs. I am interested in getting to know anyone, regardless of how different they think and how awkward the conversation feels to me. 

That’s all I can do for myself. Both my parents are alive and crazy at 70; they both talk and act as if they were still at the edge of seventeen. So, I have some hopes in this department.

Please cite as:

Bielczyk, N. Z. (2021, November 16th). The Edge of Seventeen. Retrieved from: https://nataliabielczyk.com/the-edge-of-seventeen/

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