Lessons from bad decisions.
This article came out of a casual night of perusing questions on Quora. I was new to the platform and felt like engaging in a few questions to feel it out.
I came across the question “what are 20 things that are not worth it? ” and I felt a hint of bitterness well up from less-than-satisfactory experiences and I thought: “oh yeah, I can answer this”.
It seemed like a great opportunity to exhume these feelings and perhaps turn them into lessons or personal reminders.
The list I came up with was, at times, controversial; but to my surprise, my answer had some modest success. I thought perhaps it may bring some value to others if I list and expand upon them.
Be warned, this is all based on my own experience and observations. Because of this, I am taking a more informal tone
What Are 20 Things That Are Not Worth It?
1. Dating people who have been traumatised or abused in the past who have not dealt with it.
We are supposed to be empathetic to victims and give them every chance we can. After all, it is not their fault what happened to them.
This is the appropriate response.
But not all people try to — or even can — get better.
Hurt people hurt people. You need to be careful who you are vulnerable with otherwise you too will be abused.
Some of these battles are worth it, but if you leave yourself open to someone with resulting personality issues, like people who won’t fully commit (for self-preservation); play mind games (for power); make continuously poor decisions; have addictive behaviour; or punish you for the actions of their wrongdoers — it will take a toll on you long-term to say the least.
2. Collaborating or working with friends merely because they are friends.
I have been friendly with people and out of that affinity or mutual interest I have committed to agreements that ended up massive failures.
A few friends never fully paid me for work, people I have worked with had not cultivated a useful level of skill, and others simply would be flaky or entitled in contradiction to the effort they were putting in.
You should work with people based on their evident skills, reputation, and all-round professionalism. If you just so happen to get along well, then that’s great and more often than not, you will.
3. Having sex with someone because you felt pressured.
Often women feel pressured to oblige in order to evade confrontation, or ‘do what is expected of them’, and men feel obligated to pursue, to evade the humiliation of sexual ineptitude. These are tragic motivations for something so intimate.
You must understand that your body is yours and you determine your values and the situations in which you might share that experience with, and with whom. Not cave to external pressures.
This is your inalienable right, and if you don’t feel comfortable about something then you absolutely must not give in because you are acting as if your feelings don’t matter. You might think you won’t remember these occasions, but they linger.
If you’re not advocating for yourself, who will?
4. Pursuing ‘spirituality’ for purpose.
Many people who pursue new-age spirituality for purpose seem to end up selling one of its ideologies, products, or become more confused. The enlightenment of this philosophy is often “nothingness”, “being” and the “non-self”. This can be an impediment to self-actualisation.
Self-actualisation is you as something defined, engaging in your talents and developing potentials. New age spirituality however, portrays you as something indefinable.
This can result in eroding your ambition and capacity to work on your skills to unfold your potential. It can take away motivation by taking away a sense of a value hierarchy that allows you to pursue some things over others. It replaces vision of the future with the eternal present. Many people are stuck in liminality and indecision because of this.
The ego is the devil in this brand of spirituality, which is really the individual identity/personality as opposed to a collective identity. A kind of tribalism that elevates animal over man, nature over civilisation, imagination over the concrete… you’ll see that the advocates for this philosophy will dress in a tribal style that reflects this.
5. Challenging people’s politics online.
Many things will threaten your values online, perpetually.
Unless it allows you to understand your own or another’s position with more resolution — it’s a waste of time. Almost always others won’t change their mind, so pick your battles.
Let’s be honest, it doesn’t matter how many ‘libtards’ or ‘nazis’ you destroyed, you were probably baited, trolled, or unironically responding to a satire article anyway.
6. Ranting on social media.
Rants are emotional. The purpose isn’t necessarily to share carefully analysed information, but to purge. What sounds reasonable and effective when you are emotional is definitely unreliable in translating to those who are casually perusing social media. You probably look like an uninformed idiot that can’t control themselves.
It just provides cringe for your future self.
Good rants are usually bottled up contemplations of professionals that have analysed a situation for a period of time, which provides fertile grounds for cultivating eloquence and insight instead of tumbling out like hot diarrhea.
7. Drinking a large amount of alcohol, in any situation.
This is a surprisingly hard conclusion for people to come to. It’s like every time there’s a bad experience, poor decision, or bad hangover, any potential lesson learned suddenly vanishes from memory — but once you see this in plain terms it kinda makes sense, right?
Alcohol can help foster a good time but quite often ruins one. It seems to make people a little more open but also a little more like animals; invoking the usually suppressed primal drives of lust and aggression to combat the wounding but necessary moderation of daily civility.
8. Telling an addicted person in the middle of their habit to stop the object of their addiction.
In my experience, they will not be receptive.
If someone has an insecurity that has allowed for an addiction, which in turn has created an alternate reality in the mind of the addict that rationalises away any consequence of their addiction, they are in deep shit.
You telling them they have to stop something they won’t acknowledge because it means dealing with the very things they are willing to destroy their lives over to avoid is probably not going to go well.
These people must come to conclusions themselves and won’t ask for help until their illusion breaks down after some heavy persuasion by life.
9. Getting involved in a quarrel between two people in a relationship.
Do you really want to get involved?
You could become the scapegoat for their conflict. It takes a hell of a lot for people to break up sometimes, to the point of being delusional.
For example, some people will absolutely refuse to believe a partner has cheated even if they are told by multiple friends or even by the person who has slept with them themselves. Others will stay despite emotional manipulation or abuse. Steer clear if that’s an ethical option.
10. Social media.
It’s a good organiser for communication and contacts but it will take valuable amounts of time away from you. It’s designed to keep you engaged. Your brain will adapt to it and reward you for your engagement.
Over time this habituates you and creates dependency. Your impulses will be wired and your habits out of alignment with your own goals.
A study in 2012 estimated that businesses in the U.S. lose $650 billion a year because of social media, which could only be worse today. What could be the equivalent loss in your life?
11. Blind research or infotainment on the internet.
If you’re the type that consumes a substantial amount of infotainment or reads articles until 3:00am because you want to know everything interesting happening in society, or know everything about multiple topics that interest you, you will overwhelm yourself and not remember anything if there is no specific project or purpose.
This is a tricky one because it convinces you that you are learning, but that tense feeling of unfulfilment after a while of consuming more information is still there as if you had just played video games that entire time.
12. Working a job with poor safety standards.
I was working outside one day when a slab of thick metal fell from above me and nicked the side of my head before it hit the ground. That could have been the end of me.
My boss had got an angle grinder and ground off half a catch for a chain that held a metal weight designed to bash large posts into the ground — because it was ‘getting in the way’.
That was a massive wake-up call for me because I hated that job, and if I had died doing it, the amount of anger I would feel would have warped space and time to raise me from the dead and avenge my nihilistic end over a goddamn fence.
You really want to die because some bozo dropped something on you? It’s not worth it.
13. Buying unnecessary luxuries if you’re below upper middle class.
This is how people lose money. They try to buy prestige, not earn it.
This could be a car you become indebted to, owning the latest technology at any given moment, and just generally living beyond your means instead of saving or investing.
It really can be hard to determine whether you really need/want/deserve something but the ‘tell’ is that you’re rationalising.
14. Staying up late when you know you have work the next day.
I hate to sound like your mother but even I still do this often because I feel like I never get enough done.
I especially stay up late when more work (for other people) is on the next day because I feel the pressure of not being able to do what I want to for an extended period of time, so I cram it in the night before; but the next day is always more miserable and then you have no energy left for your own activities and goals afterwards.
Sleep is incredibly important for your body, mind and sanity. It’s easily seen as something you can sacrifice, but it isn’t.
15. Dating someone with different core values.
No, love does not conquer all.
“No matter how great the initial chemistry is, if your values are on two different pages, the odds of your marriage working decrease significantly.”
― Chana Levitan
It’s really possible to waste many years of your life with someone incompatible and each of you will think you’re right in your own standing, and try to change the other person so it ends up a power struggle.
Figure out your own values and personality and find someone similar, but perhaps not too close as some challenge is a good thing.
Sometimes compromise only breeds resentment.
16. Acting in revenge.
If you truly understand revenge as a means of justice, you’ll understand it’s futile. The only true justice is when a person understands their mistake, regrets it in proportion to the error, makes an appropriate amount of effort or sacrifice to remedy the mistake, and their new values renders them incapable of the error.
This justice unfortunately is condemned to only come from their personal realisation, but some sense of justice comes from the fact that if they don’t realise it, they have not grown. They are stunted.
In revenge, nobody learns anything. You give the perpetrator reason for rationalising away their own guilt by giving them evidence that you are just as bad as they are.
17. Neglecting Your Potential.
People neglect their potential by putting off cultivating skills in areas they are passionate about or might have an inkling that they are, creating a tension that is complicated, painful, and ill-defined.
It’s a tragedy when people neglect these things because these are what will develop them into who they want to be and allow them to provide value in the ways they want to provide it, despite the fear and self-doubt involved in the process.
18. Working long-term in a job you hate or with people who treat you poorly.
This will wear down your confidence and waste precious time. Your life will become a routine and that is all. Developing a means of mental, emotional and perhaps physical escape won’t be healthy.
We should always continue to develop and act on a vision that helps motivate us in life and express who we are.
19. Higher education when you don’t have a plan.
You’ll just have a useless degree and a lot of debt. Sometimes it is better to be entrepreneurial and go your own way if you’re up for the work and risk. Most people report learning everything they know on the job. It depends on the career choice of course. People might become suspicious if you’re a basement chemist.
Also, beware of subjects in the humanities. The subjects are valuable but it’s not like many people out there are going to employ you as a philosopher.
It could sure help you gain a position through exuding a sense of sophistication or erudition, but if you go this route you’re likely going to have to have great entrepreneurial skills as well in order to make a living.
20. Chasing fun and being whimsical in your 20’s.
Sure, you can do some of this. Experiences in travel and work are good things. I’m no fun police, but if you don’t have a sense of pressure because you’re in your 20’s, you’ll start hitting the wall pretty hard at 27–30 when you realise you either haven’t achieved anything, you don’t know how to support the rest of your life and you’ve wasted those years not giving a thought to your future.
Beware of rash decisions as well, especially when it comes to relationships and sex. You can be stuck with someone much sooner than you had the chance to determine your values.
Do your best to make a plan as you experience more of life and as above, cultivate skills.
All Rights Reserved for Joshua Press