A Life of Qualitative v. Quantitative Value

And one day I woke up and realized…

We live in a world of corporate celebrities: A generation deluded by dollars & cents; a life of quantitative versus qualitative value.

But it doesn’t have to be this way, nor should it.

Countless students across the country are currently deep into their freshman semester in college. They will be encouraged and told to pursue quantitative majors like mathematics, finance or economics. Whether or not these kids would ordinarily excel at such majors as opposed to a major that instead focuses on verbal and written abilities, they will be encouraged to pursue such studies. And so future artists, thinkers and writers are told to go to work on Wall Street, in banks or in medicine because that is what matters. It is not what you want to do, it is what you can make money doing.

Why is this the case? Because our society disproportionally values the quantitative versus qualitative aspects of life. We have somehow begun to confuse the two, that quantitative value somehow infers qualitative. It is a chicken and egg problem.

In a world of 24/7 news media, the Donald Trumps, the Jamie Dimons, the Carlos Slims and Rupert Murdochs, we have been inundated with corporate celebrities. Billionaires like Mark Cuban have their own shows. Stock jocks in movies like Wall Street and the upcoming Wolf of Wall Street show the fictional lifestyle of the Wall Street largesse in ways that make kids want that lifestyle more than to ever want to reject it.

We have come to confuse possessions and money as symbols of personal accomplishment. We have chosen who we interact with on the basis of prestige and monetary value. We choose who we fuck on the basis of such wealth as well. And somehow intellectual capacity and a couples commonality will almost always mean less than the trophy-wife status to both male and females alike. We’ve traded in our Volkswagens for BMWs, even if we can’t afford them. And we have confused ‘above the line’ and ‘bellow the line’ as measures of personal value as opposed to the merits such individuals presumably posses.

We have convinced a generation based on the excess of everything that led to the financial crisis of 2008 that such mistakes are un-repeatable on the basis of valuing quantitative things. It’s what you can count that somehow measures a life, that gives one meaning. It is somehow in the things we acquire that defines us.

IT IS NOT.

I am not someone who has looked back on life and decided I want to live my life qualitatively. I have made the mistake of being deluded into working in Finance as my day job for the better part of three and a half years. I have realized in my youth, even as I begin to seriously save towards getting out to LA to work in an industry that better represents my passions, that even that industry has somehow fallen victim to this way of thinking. And I do not want to be that way.

I want to see the world. I want to fall in love with someone independent of the size of their wallet or the titles they may have acquired. I want to see my day to day as pursuing a career, not working a job. I want to find reward in my life, looking at the trees change color and breathe in air and be happy for life, and not be envious of the fact that I do not own the BMW parked beneath that very tree.

And somehow to me that is rich. Rich is the person that has such true value to life that anything quantitative somehow falls to provide real value.

You see, we will always want more even when we presumably by quantitative analysis have “everything.” Billionaires still go to work. Lists make them compete amongst each other to vie for the top quantitative spot.

Quantitative life is a wasted life. A life is worth living for the opportunity it presents. And sadly we barely have much time to enjoy it. I am 25, in some 60 years or so, I will likely die. And I want to know that when I reach that point that I will be happy with the life I lived. When on my death bed I want to know that my life here on earth had some sort of purpose as opposed to anything I once possessed. I want to know it meant something, and the way I will be able to appreciate it is by valuing it qualitatively.

I have many dreams and ideas of how I want to live and learn. And qualitatively I hope to achieve those goals and dreams, but it starts by rejecting the lock-step idea of leading a quantitative life.

…..T-minus 7 months to Los Angeles, and I promise to never look back. Good day Wall Street, I am near done.

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