intimacy as a depreciating asset

I woke up this morning feeling extremely sad and lonely. In other news, water is wet.

I’m starting to wonder if I feel lonely all the time because I just have a higher baseline requirement for intimacy than others. This is neither a positive nor a negative thing. It’s just a statement of fact, like my blood type or my hair color. I remember reading a research paper saying that the difference between introverts and extroverts is that introverts just have a higher baseline level of stimulation, so they don’t feel as much of a need to spend time with others to achieve an optimal level of stimulation. Similarly, do I just need to maintain more friendships than most people to feel not lonely?

The problem is that my capabilities of feeling intimate with others come and go like the waves. Last month, when I was still in Philly, I went to an event with some friends. It was only three weeks ago, but it seems so long ago. Moving to somewhere new tends to have that effect on my time perception. At the time, I hadn’t told my friends that I would be moving to New York shortly, but I had an apprehension that that night might be the last time I was happy for a while. It was the last time I was happy for a while, but the transition occurred long before that night. I’m running towards the end of my intimacy cycle, and I expect that it’s going to be a while before I could feel intimate with others again.

I tend to think of intimacy as a depreciating asset. Like depreciating assets, I have to mark intimacy to market every quarter to make an accurate assessment of how close I feel to the people around me. It is quite unfair to assume that our present feelings of intimacy seamlessly transition from one time period to the next without loss. When I was in high school, I no longer felt close to the same people from elementary school. When I graduated college, everything that happened before college seems like another life I never lived.

Most assets use straight-line depreciation over a set useful life. The rate of straight-line depreciation is dependent solely on the useful life of an asset.

Some assets have long useful lives. Some assets do not have long useful lives. Friendships also have a useful life measured by a specific period in which the majority of memories are formed. I made a lot of memories with some high school friends, but they are no longer a significant presence in my life. Some of my college friends are still in my life, but in a few years I suspect I won’t be talking to my college friends either. It’s the natural progression of things. Friendships do not last forever, and it’s unfair to expect that they do. Friendships run through a predictable course of getting to know each other, spending a little time together, spending significant amounts of time together, and then moving on to other friends.

Some assets have salvage values. Some assets do not have salvage values. Friendships have salvage values. Relationships do not have salvage values. If I reach the end of the line with a friendship, I could pick things back up later, granted at a lesser intensity. The promise of Saturday brunch at 1 PM, once a year or two, is still there, and this ending equilibrium is hard to break. Relationships, on the other hand, cannot be picked back up once broken. There is no such thing as keeping in contact with your exes. There is no room in the present for doing so. Keeping in contact with an ex is just keeping something alive that doesn’t have any future. Doing so would be living in the past.

The metric I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is the average useful life of a friendship. Unlike friendship itself, this is largely dependent person to person. People who are good at keeping in contact with their friends tend to have longer average useful lives. People who are not too attached to their friends tend to have shorter average useful lives. People who prefer quality over quantity have longer average useful lives. People who prefer quantity over quality have shorter average useful lives. I’m not sure where I end up on this spectrum. I tend to think that my friendships have shorter average useful lives, but that could just be because my standards for what I consider to be an ideal average useful life is longer than what I currently perceive having.

How do you make friends in a new city? Who knows. I didn’t really make friends in college, so the bar for comparison is quite low. I think I big problem I have is that I like getting close to people quickly. I think I expect too much from meeting people. I just want to reach the point in a friendship where memories start to get formed, but it’s hard to truly understand that this process takes a very long time. I understand that the average useful life of my friendships is not long, so I want to cram as many memories into my friendships as possible before I would have to salvage it and move onto another friendship.

To be honest, if I saw someone else with my obsessive desire to be close to others, I would consider it to be a red flag. From my observations (and experience), the desire for accelerated closeness is usually the product of emotional trauma, and it often results in some pretty horrible friendships. It’s weird to know I am the red flag in this case.

the next coping mechanism

Life is quite long. It is the time of life that isn’t continuously filled with pain that is short.

The average life expectancy in the US goes up every year. In 1960, it was roughly 70. Now, it is roughly 80. By the time I will be nearing “dying” time, it’ll probably be around 90 or 100. Since I’m fortunate enough to have health insurance, I’ll probably be on the high-end of the normal distribution. It is quite a long time before I die. What do I do before then?

It is unfortunate that life gets quite boring after I would say… 23? There was a lot of novelty in life before then. Now, it’s more-or-less the same life every day. I thought it was the product of being a student that made life more vibrant. But upon talking with my friends who are doing master’s and PhD programs, it seems like they are also in the same boat as me. I guess it wasn’t being a student. I think it’s just after a certain age there are less new experiences, regardless of whether we experience those experiences in school or not.

I think the first time I took a walk around the city at 2 AM, it was a unique and interesting experience. Now, when I take a walk at 2 AM, it’s just like every other walk I take at 2 AM.

When I wrote for therapeutic purposes for the first time — I think it was when I was deferred from Penn early decision — it was super effective. I was super sad, then I wrote, and I wasn’t as sad anymore. I took a nap. When I woke up, it was fine. Since then, I’ve written for therapy so many times. Each time, it doesn’t hit the same, so I have to find new ways to cope. Lately, I’ve been singing a lot, which was effective at first, but eventually, even singing gets old. Everything gets old. Now, I’ve been running a lot. I’m figuring out what is going to be my next coping mechanism after running gets old.

I think life effectively ends when you reach age 30. I plan on moving to a gated community in Greenwich then, and hopefully, I would have enough income to pay off my mortgage and send my kids to boarding school. That’ll give me something to do for the next 20 years of my life. Kids are always up to something. I haven’t been “up to something” for a long time. Maybe my kids will teach my the latest Tik Tok dance and make life meaningful. I think there’s a 70% chance that people just have kids because they’re bored.

I wonder if people commit suicide because they just run out of coping mechanisms. There are only so many things to do before every hobby is exhausted. Then, what’s next?

altruism and disconnection

Fundamentally, I think I don’t really care about what goes on in the world at large because I don’t really feel connected to the world.

I remember I really wanted to work for some health or education NGO for a really long time in my life. I don’t think I felt connected to the world back then, but at least I told myself did I did. I felt a need to dedicate my life to something more because I don’t really know what I would otherwise do with my life. The problem with trying to achieve a position of real influence in the social impact space is that it’s quite difficult. It’s only possible to reach that level of influence with a lot of grinding, not to mention complete uncertainty whether your hard work will be rewarded at the end. For someone like me who is at best ambivalent about dedicating my life to the abstract idea of “helping people,” this life did not appeal to me. I think in the private sector, your success is a lot more correlated to how hard you work. More often than not, you are adequately compensated for your contributions to your company.

I find it harder to care about the world when I’m unhappy. I used to really care about making the world a less fucked-up place, but now I just want to be happy. I’ve noticed that the magnitude in which the world is fucked up doesn’t have an effect on my happiness. I’ve read that people supposedly find helping people to be fulfilling, but I’m not sure I feel this feeling. I help people when asked for help because I recognize that I’ve received a lot of help over the years, but I certainly don’t go out of my way to find new ways to help people. I don’t really feel that sense of fulfillment a lot of people discover when helping people. It’s hard to rationalize making other people happy when it doesn’t do anything to alleviate your own unhappiness in the process. I’m could do all of this, but I would still be so unhappy, so what’s the point?

I believe that my happiness is solely a product of how close I feel to my friends. I would happily trade my career prospects for friends. I would probably be more interested in making the world a better place if I felt at all connected to it, or so I tell myself. The problem is that that is not a choice that I have in my life. There’s a difference between choices and options. I have the options to make friends or make money. However, I can choose how much money I make. I cannot choose how many friends I have. Choices imply free will, but options don’t. I could focus on my career and try to be a millionaire by age 30, or I could make a friend and get on with some other missions in life other than to make money. These are my two options. However, considering hard difficult I find it to make friends, there is realistically only one choice. At this point, I think it’s much more likely to be a millionaire by age 30 than it is to make a friend. There’s not much of a decision involved.

The thing is — I would always prefer making friends to making money. The problem is that this option is always presented to me. I wish I had the opportunity to shoot the shit with some friends, but instead, I just work in Excel all day and listen to some emo trap album on repeat while wondering why I am unable to have the level of intimacy I want with people. I work because there isn’t much of an alternative. All I want is to do something else.

past happiness is not indicative of future happiness

Investment research always ends with the phrase: “Past performance is not indicative of future results.” This is to indicate that performance during different time periods is not correlated.

I’ve begun to think about my happiness in a similar light. Just because I was happy in one period does not necessitate that I will be happy in a future period. Just like investing, there is some skill involved in being happy, but performance is also dependent on the state of the economy and aggregate investor sentiment, which we cannot control. We can do certain things to be better at being happy like eating healthy or yoga, but at the end of the day, it is also largely subject to a variety of forces that are hard to control. Just as it’s hard to invest well during a depression, it’s hard to be happy when you are depressed.

I was reflecting on the instances in which I was happy in the past. There aren’t that many, so this train of thought didn’t take long. I remembered that during each of these periods, I thought that my happiness would last forever. When I was happy, I thought that I would be finally free from feeling sad. I thought that my hard work in developing a more positive mindset had paid off, and I would be able to be happy for the rest of my life.

There’s something about happiness that seems to wear off. Happiness can be intense at first, but then happiness also wears off because it’s hard to sustain happiness for prolonged periods of time. I don’t know if there is a neurochemical explanation for this or if I’m just speaking purely out of experience. I suspect that this cycle won’t change. I’ll be sad for the next couple of months. If I’m lucky, then I’ll feel happy next summer. If I’m not, then I’ll still be sad next summer. This just might be the way things are.

up or out

A big part of finance culture is that if you don’t get promoted, you usually are asked to leave the firm. This is known as “up or out.” I’m not quite sure why this is a thing since a third-year analyst almost always has more value-add than a first-year analyst, but that’s just the way things are. I suppose this culls each level of the hierarchy to fit the desired ratio between analysts and associates or associates and VPs or VPs and directors. Either way, some people stay, some people leave voluntarily, and some people are forced to leave.

Friendships and relationships are different in this regard. Friendships can stagnate, but relationships cannot. If a friendship goes on pause — for example, if one of my friends decided to move to Egypt for a year — I would be able to pick up the friendship whenever we were in the same city together again. If that is not feasible near-term, then there are always options of chatting on Zoom every couple of months. If a relationship does not advance, however, then it must end. There is no such thing as chatting every couple of months in a relationship. The purpose of a relationship is to reach a state where both parties want to marry. If at any point in a relationship it is clear commitment is not mutual and that marriage is not a plausible destination, then there is no purpose to the relationship.

Relationships are like corporations. They are entities with a lot of power over our lives despite having no tangible form in this world. Spending time within a relationship is a lot like a job. We spend a lot of our time in relationships, and we only pursue relationships because there is a mutually beneficial arrangement given our participation. Relationships reduce our feelings of loneliness, but our romantic partners also add value to our personality and networks. Like our jobs, we can choose to leave at any point when we find other opportunities that offer us more value than our current arrangement. In addition, our relationships, like our jobs, eventually become a part of our identity. At a certain point, we stop looking for other opportunities and settle for the job or relationship that has been a part of our identity for so long.

In this regard, there’s quite a substantial transactional nature of relationships. It would be nice to enjoy spending time with your romantic partner, but ultimately there’s a purpose in making each other a priority. I think people were able to “date for the sake of dating” in college because there’s a genuine desire to explore personalities to understand what we value in a romantic partner. However, is there such thing as dating for the sake of dating once we are aware of what we are attracted to and what we seek in a long-term partner? Don’t we, at a certain point, crave permanence?

At a certain point, I think there’s a point in our lives when we discover that there are more important things we want to accomplish than just dating around. When we reach that point, the appeal of dating around becomes a lot less appetitizing, and we devote our attention to finding a long-term partner as opposed to just riding the intimacy wave again.

At a certain point, it becomes very explicitly transactional.

It reminds me of this text exchange between my friend and I:

I think there is a lot more value to MBAs than just the dating scene, but I still think that’s a pretty significant part of it. Dating was a very big part of undergrad, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t be a big part of an MBA. Although, I would say undergrad is quite different because there is a significant process of self-discovery involved in undergrad dating. When you go to an MBA, assuming you have 3-6 years of work experience already, you already went through four years of undergrad and several more years of adult life. When you go to an MBA, you have a clear idea of what you want from a romantic partner, and considering what types of people an MBA attracts, having a six-figure salary is probably a big criterion.

Sometimes, I read some biographies of famous hedge fund managers and tech founders, and I always wonder why they chose to get married at such an early age. Is there something about successful people who settle down at an early age, or is precisely the fact that they chose to settle down at such an early age that they become so successful?

I think when I was an undergrad, I focused too much on chasing girls and too little on figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. When I wasn’t studying, I was always pining over some girl as opposed to thinking what classes I wanted to take or what careers I wanted to pursue. Maybe if I introspected more about what I wanted out of life instead of writing about how I felt when my crush hugged me, I wouldn’t have had to do three unrelated internships to figure out what I wanted to do in life. Alternatively, maybe if I focused more on girls in high school as opposed to school, I wouldn’t feel the need to date as much as possible during undergrad to figure out what I wanted out of relationships.

Even as I’m writing this, I’m not sure if I’m completely convinced at my own thoughts. I’m not entirely sure what drove me to date people during undergrad — I wasn’t thinking about it at all — but it certainly wasn’t transactional. There wasn’t this thought of up or out. It was just taking things one step at a time. Sadly, I’m not sure if I’m able to approach things like that anymore. There’s just so much I want to accomplish before I die, and I don’t know if dating for the sake of dating can offer me the same fulfillment anymore. It probably can offer me the intensity that I want in my life (probably). But lately, I’ve been thinking there’s more to life than just intensity (like making a billion dollars).

I’m not sure if I would be able to accomplish all that I want to accomplish in life, but I’m pretty certain that I wouldn’t be able to if I just continued to devote my attention to finding the next person I want to date. At a certain point, I want to accomplish something in life, and there’s more meaning in permanence than intensity.

i miss listening to “youth” by daughter

…In a parked car next to a playground on one of those foggy winter nights. One of my friends pulled the song up on Spotify, saying that one of her friends had introduced it to her, and I listened to it for the first time despite having heard it already. There’s was a sort of vulnerability in those moments, sharing a sense of disappointment when your life didn’t match the glamour you thought you would have. Something about those breathy nights that seem to have lost its glitter. Gone are the days when I would wait in my driveway as my friend would pull up in a 2005 Toyota Corolla. I don’t expect that I’ll be able to reclaim that surbuban romanticism again, at least not as a adolescent.

There’s a part of me that wants to reclaim this vulnerability but another part of me that wants to move past it all. It’s rare to get caught up in your feelings nowadays. There was a time in my life when I had a strong desire to make friends, and I wasn’t selective with who I spend my time with. My behavior led me to feel sad a lot, but it was the sort of sadness that flushed my life full of emotion, regardless of whether it was positive or negative emotion. Now that I’ve become more mature, I’m more aware of the difficulties of making meaningful connection, and I’m less inclined to sacrifice my mental health to adopt the same attitude. Experiences that were intense at one point become more mundane, and we seek new experiences with new people to replace our fading feelings of intimacy and intensity.

I remember when I smoked at the Belmont plat, it was a pretty memorable experience. The first time I traveled with someone I had a crush on was also a pretty memorable experience. The first time I made out with someone in the backseat of my mom’s Honda Accord was a pretty memorable experience. The novelty of those experiences was quite overwhelming, and I don’t think I was aware of how intense those experiences were until I compare them to the boring reality of adult life. But now that my experiences have become more mundane, I reflect on these experiences fondly because it proves to me that my life wasn’t always filled with routine. I always thought that I didn’t fully take advantage of my youth, but thinking back to some of my more memorable moments, I realize that I probably gave myself too little credit. I did things, and it’s the desire to keep doing things that continuously drive me to live a life filled with experiences.

I think I’ve changed for the better, but I also think my current self is a more hollowed out version of my former self. The underlying systems of governance are still the same, but I feel things less strongly than before. Heartbreak used to kill me, but now it’s just a mild inconvenience I could just vent out by running and singing. This life I have is almost unrecognizable to my former self. I used to make fun of people for owning Airpods. Back then, there was something about Airpods I found extremely aesthetically displeasing. In college, I used to pride myself in owning a Thinkpad when everyone else owned a Mac. But today, after my Thinkpad gave out for seemingly no reason, I bought a Mac for the first time. Now, I’ve become the person I used to make fun of. I own an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Macbook Pro, and Airpods.

Life moves so quickly. Before you realize it, you become someone you thought you would never become, like how I was when I started to use Apple products. I’m not sure if this is the life I signed up for, but I’m not entirely convinced that it is not the life I signed up for either. This life is a product of my choices and my limitations. There were things I was able to control and things I was not able to control. I continue to live to the best of my ability, understanding that not all of my choices are going to work out for the better. Eventually, these choices will cause me to change. Eventually, enough change will come to the point where I won’t notice that the person making the choices has changed.

A part of me just wants to speedrun life — move to Greenwich, have kids, and call it a day. Another part of me wants to be a digital nomad for a year or two. The dilemma has always been the same since high school and college — security or novelty — but the calculus has evolved to include a stronger sense of responsibility and risk-aversion. The window for making mistakes has closed, and every action requires diligent risk management. I’m not able to indulge in moments of emotional turblence and a frantic desire to prove myself. Everything requires more planning now. Even when I decide to take risks, it’s a part of a plan. Whatever the case, the progression of my life is inevitable. In due time, reflection is all I have left.

I don’t know if Greenwich would offer me the happiness I am looking for, but being young has been causing me a lot of pain lately, and Greenwich seems like the last place a young person would want to be. I need to get away from all the young people in the world because I don’t want to be reminded how I don’t feel the way I once did. I wish life was more intense, but it’s harder and harder to replicate those same moments of intensity. Maybe I should leave everything I have behind and embrace some radical uncertainty. I don’t know if I would want that though. Why has it come to the point where I need to sacrifice anything to feel something?

existential imbalance

There are a lot of instances in the past when I’ve been affected by someone I’ve met for a very short period of time who doesn’t really remember who I am.

I’m thinking back to when I was recruiting how there was this one girl I talked to at an information session who convinced me to recruit for finance. Recently, I saw on LinkedIn that she had started a new role at some VC firm in Europe, and I was happy for her. It’s been around two years since we last talked, and I suspect she has a hazy recollection of who I am, at least requiring ample reminding. I was not a big part in her life, but she was a big part in my life. It is weird to know I probably won’t interact with her for the rest of my life.

I remembered I followed up with her a couple of months after I started working, and we had a nice chat on Zoom. I forgot exactly what we talked about, but I remembered that it was just a normal chat like those you have senior year when you bump into someone you met in a freshman writing seminar — a bit nostalgic but mostly procedural. For most of the call, I was just thinking about how grateful I was to this person for the help she gave me during the recruiting process. She doesn’t know that, of course, but that’s how it was.

It’s so random how I ended up here at my current company. Recruiting, in general, was a shitshow because I had no idea what I was doing. At the time, I was trying to explore all of my options as quickly as possible, so I went to basically every info session across every industry I could. I came into this particular info session late because I was coming from another one across campus. I talked to a lot of people after the presentation, but she was the only person whose email I remembered. We had a 20-minute chat and exchanged a couple of emails afterwards, and then I eventually I received an offer at my current company. It really made a difference in my life, and it’s hard to imagine my life currently without my current job. I’m not sure I would’ve landed this job without the help she gave.

Now that I’m on the other side of the boat, it’s hard to imagine myself in her position. Recruiting is such a routine part of professional life, and I have roughly the same conversation with most prospective candiates. When I receive an email from an undergrad, it doesn’t really matter to me if I respond or not. My day is more-or-less the same regardless if I take any calls. I sometimes forget how clueless I was during undergrad, and how helpful certain conversations were in helping me figure out what I valued.

It’s weird how some people have a very large impact on your life, and they might not even now it. I don’t know what I would do with my life if I didn’t work in finance, and it’s hard to imagine my life, in retrospect, taking another direction because it’s such a core part of who I am.

Outside of the professional world, there are a lot of people with whom I’ve spent a very short amount of time but have changed me in pretty profound ways. I think certain teachers I’ve had both inspired me and disillusioned me in both a positive and negative manner. Some teachers inspire me; other teachers just make me dislike teachers. It’s a delicate balance. I think a lot of girls I used to date have informed me of what I consider to be attractive. I think there are also girls who I didn’t date who have the same effect on me. A lot of my personality is shaped around impressing certain girls in college, and these personality traits I’ve picked up have tended to stick around even now.

I go back and forth between thinking this is a bad thing or a good thing. On one hand, it is a position where I don’t have power. By definition, other people are influencing me significantly more than I am influencing them. Lately, I’ve begun to think about it differently. At the end of the day, it’s my personal development. There is always going to a positive in the past, when I was weaker, to now, when I have more control over my life, where I am put in the position where I am influenced. I can’t help but ask how inevitable it is in a world where a small selection of your interactions with people informs a majority of your personal development.

There’s a desire to be close to the people who have influenced you in your life. I want to be close the people who have shaped me, but I understand that this might not always be the case. More obviously, I can’t exactly be friends with Lana Del Rey. Less obviously, there is a lot of spontaneity and randomness to the creation of intimacy, and the opportunities don’t always present themselves. I’ve realized that it’s also okay to let go to be close to the people who have shaped you to become the way you are. Not all influence has to be equal, even though sometimes we want it to be.

For a long time when thinking of this imbalance, my mind goes directly to shame. The thought goes: I feel shame for allowing my life to be affected by someone in such a significant way when I have not had the same effect on them. I think, in a lot of cases, I am thinking this in context to negative emotions like grief, heartbreak, and longing. After all, it’s not a great feeling to pine over a one-night stand who probably forgot your name a week later. I frequently forget about the positive instances of imbalance because it doesn’t fit this narrative I created in my head. When I do remember the positive instances, I do exercise gratitude, but remembering those positive instances doesn’t really come naturally to me.

I think moving forward, I’ll try to be okay with letting myself get affected by others. It shows that I am connected to people and that I am allowing myself to be changed. I am taking part of the intimacy process, even when it puts me in a position of weakness.

intensity and vulnerability

I’ve had this issue in the past where I confuse romantic attraction for intimacy. This, as you can imagine, resulted in me being hurt a lot because romantic attraction goes one way while intimacy goes both ways. It results in me feeling close to people who I was attracted to without the necessary shared experience that forms intimacy. After all, when you spend time with someone, and you are attracted to them but they are not attracted to you, the actual shared experience is drastically different between parties. You might feel a moment was significant, while for them it could’ve just been another moment.

This results in a conundrum. On one hand, I don’t feel close to that many people and want to feel closer to more people. On the other hand, I feel close to people with whom I cannot rationalize my feelings of closeness and don’t enjoy the sensation of being a smaller part in someone’s life than they are in mine. The two feelings put together results in a sort of paranoia where I try to stay at arm’s length from the people I feel close with because I don’t want to be put in the position where I feel closer to someone than they feel close with me. It’s petty, for sure, but this is a position that makes me feel my life is less significant. If I want to live my life with an existential imperative to maximize my own happiness, then I don’t want to put myself in the position where a part of my life is dedicated to someone else who does not meaningfully care about me.

The price of intensity is vulnerability. It’s a lot harder to be vulnerable nowadays because we develop better emotional regulation capabilities as we age, but every now and then I still find myself in a position where I am in somewhat a tender position.

The idea that someone is more significant in your life than you are in theirs is a delicate position. It’s an imbalance of emotional capital and a position of vulnerability. If you are in this position, you have the potential to be hurt more than you have the capability to hurt. In the case of the termination of this relationship, then the loss would affect you more than it would affect them, and that is not a desireable position to be in from a risk-management perspective.

The logical (and possibly unhealthy) way to address this imbalance is to only become friends with people where you are always more significant in their life than they are in your life. Another way of saying this is: Only become close with friends you are willing to lose. Aesthetically, this seems like a bad way to live life, so I don’t think I’ll live by this idea.

Another solution is to stop feeling the feels. I’ve tried doing this and was unsucessful.

The last way I could think of is to just accept the feels. This has its own issues because some feelings are not pleasant feelings. In fact, I would say most feelings are unpleasant feelings, yet we continue to feel the feels because there’s an occasional good feeling out there.

On balance, I think feeling the feels leads to a more meaningful life than not feeling the feels. Positive emotions can justify themselves, and negative emotions can be translated as art or fitness. Intense positive emotions are great. Intense negative emotions are not so great. But the problem with intense emotions altogether is that they make other less intense emotions feel quite dull. After I transition out of an intense period in my life, what I fear most isn’t the sadness but the emptiness that follows. Sometimes the feels lose their value as feels coming from a period of intense feels.

The price of intimacy is heartbreak. This I understand and embrace. The unspoken price of intimacy, however, is boredom in all moments of life that are not intimate.

Intimacy is probably the most addictive feeling in the world. I define addiction as a craving that negatively affects all other aspects of life that can only be resolved temporarily through a particularly addictive means. People often discuss addiction in context of substances, but I don’t think any substance matches the sheer swings of emotion that intimacy offers.

I find drinking and smoking to be quite fun — but only with friends. I’ve tried smoking once by myself, and that was not fun, and I have not tried doing it again. There’s a reason we use substances in social contexts and not in individual contexts. It’s not vodka and cigarettes that bring us our desired feelings of pleasure but the experience of sharing a plesaurable experience with someone else. Without other people, substances are quite dull.

I think The Great Gatsby has a lot of significance in American literature because it captures a lot of our understanding of what we look for in life. It is, in its essence, a story about someone who becomes rich and finds that his life is unfilled if he is unable to achieve intimacy with his childhood love interest. Some rich people are unhappy because they don’t have that many genuine relationships, although I don’t think it’s a feeling exclusive to being rich. I think most people are unhappy because they don’t have that many genuine friends, regardless of how much money they make. I think in general rich people get more attention for being unhappy because everyone likes a movie about a sad rich person.

I’ve been obssessive lately on personal growth because I feel I have little control in my social life. It seems, at least aesthetically, to be an unhealthy thought, but I can’t exactly pinpoint why. Maybe it’s because it shifts the responsibility of making friends away from me, which could potentially result in a feedback loop where I exhibit Bad Faith again in my life. Although I’m still figuring out how much control I have over the entire friendship-making process. I feel too close to some people and too distant from others. There are limits to how much I can control how others perceive me and how close I feel with other people. If I try to achieve intimacy and am unsuccessful, is waiting a viable strategy?

modern portfolio theory and the optimal allocation of emotional resources

There are many times over the past couple of months where I thought to myself that I should probably move to New York, yet here I am still in Philly. Part of the reason I’ve been reluctant to leave Philly is because I still thought that there were some friendships with room for growth. I didn’t want to cut off funding for friendships that have not reached their full maturity yet.

If I really wanted to prioritize my career, I probably should have moved to New York ages ago. Although remote work has saved me quite a bit of money on rent, it probably isn’t that great for a career in the long-run. After all, there is only a finite amount of time you have to build you network before you have to actually leverage your network for professional purposes. But I stayed in Philly because I thought that there was something worth staying for.

But now, as my summer friendships reach their maturity, there is less that’s keeping me in Philly. I feel my friendships have reached a point where revenues have plateaued and additional profits come from streamlining operations as opposed to organic market growth. Although I won’t be selling my positions in them (I’m not sure if there’s actually an equivalent for this in friendship), I don’t feel the need to provide additional capital to my summer friendships to achieve their operational targets.

Every day, we are faced with options of how we want to allocate our energy. In simplistic terms, we can allocate our energy in two ways: into our relationships or into ourselves.

Although life comprises of more than work and relationships (barely though, in my opinion), work and relationships comprise the only real uses of energy in my life. Art, fitness, and music are constants. These activities take virtually no effort on my part, and I engage in these activities regardless of my priorities. There is no real trade-off between my lifestyle choices and art, music, and fitness. The real constraint is the balance between work and relationships. Large decisions including where I reside and settle down are the product of either work or relationships, which have thus far not been at odds but could be at odds in the future.

We allocate more of our energy into our relationships when we see significant potential for growth in our relationships, and we allocate more of our energy into ourselves when our potential relationships do not have the same risk-adjusted yields.

The function of career and time is fairly linear. The progression from analyst to associate to VP is dependent on a set amount of time and a reasonable expection of productivity growth. With each promotion comes with a sizeable increase in total compensation as well as hierarchical importance within the industry. As long as I stay on the path I am on, assuming I don’t accidentally blow up my career, I could get a promotion every 2-3 years. I could become more competitive with additional certifications like the CFA or a master’s degree. When I’m around 28, I’ll evaluate whether I want to go to business school and restart my career in another direction. If not, I’ll be pretty happy working in finance my entire life.

The function of relationships and time is a random variable (pronounced: complete shitshow). Sometimes you could meet someone from the weirdest contexts and get very close to them very quickly. Other times you can just not really click with anyone for awhile. There’s little inheritance you receive from your past relationships. While for careers being an associate at one company allows you to apply for associate roles at other companies, you can’t just make another close friend after you made one close friend. Most conversations don’t really lead into anything. Yet, we still continually meet new people because there’s a chance that we could make a friend. There are a few interactions that translate into something meaningful, and that makes all the difference.

Investing in your career is diversifying across US treasuries and some large-cap dividend fund. Other than a few hiccups onset by a recession here or there, the growth is steady and constant. You can’t go wrong by investing your career, but there are opportunities that you might be missing out on because of its “safe” nature. Investing in your relationships is like dumping a quarter of your savings into a pre-revenue frontier tech company with completely unproven technology. If it works out, the reward is immense. It has the ability to convince you life is meaningful, even for a little bit. If it doesn’t work out, it sucks, but it’s not the end of the world. There are more opportunities in the future.

Relationships are high beta investments. They are only worth it if the expected emotional value of its future free cash flows are better than those your career can offer.

Modern portfolio theory suggests that we should allocate along the efficient frontier, which represents the optimal allocation between risk and return. Our immediate investment opportunities are presented to us through our immediate surroundings. We can perceive the potential growth for each friendship from how quickly we perceive feelings of intimacy forming through random interactions. If a certain threshold of intimacy forms without initial investment, we could throw in a Series A and spend time intentionally outside of random interactions and turn to low-level interactions through meals or drinks. If intimacy continues to grow, then we can add additional investments into the friendship with a higher valuation through higher-level social interactions like trips and music festivals. If, at any point, the formation of intimacy slows, we lower the valuation of the friendship and stop adding additional capital.

Although virtual communication has made significant progress over the past year, I don’t think there’s ever going to be a point where friendship isn’t dependent on interaction in a shared physical space. As a result, we can only make friends with the people who are immediately around us. From experience, most of the friends I make are just a progression of mutual friends. It is quite a limited environment, but it gives a good overview of potential friendships to invest in. At the end of the day, our decision to value our career or relationships depends on our perception of the socioeconomic environment at a given moment. If the small-cap intimacy scene is prime for investing, we invest. If it is not, then we focus on higher-yielding investments on a risk-adjusted basis like our career.