A little over a month ago, I turned 25. It seemed like a good enough number to quickly recap what I've seen so far. Even more important was to understand what kind of world-view it resulted in.
Events were plentiful: several major financial crises, two revolutions, a 9-years war with a full-scale invasion, and a pandemic. Being Ukrainian helps if you want to experience some history. But what about beliefs and principles?
I've spent a lot of time jotting notes and distilling thoughts into some neatly-looking matrix of ideas and postulates. Yet mostly failed. Life is fluid, and so is its understanding. As this post would be too dull if filled with superficial characteristics, I've decided to purposely turn it into a mess. This way it will resemble the world we see every day.
Written below are not the things I used to navigate so far. At 25, it makes much more sense to draft your “forward beliefs”, essential to navigate upcoming decades. Some of them look more like open questions or problems, some are more like advices. What's the point? I hope it will provide readers of all ages with a glimpse of what an Eastern European thinks entering his (fingers crossed) prime years. I also hope to review them in the future and produce similar stories at 35, 50 and so on.
Why do I make this distinctive geo addition? Because I believe (see, we are already starting) that CEE will be one of the most eventful regions in the coming decade. It packs many surprises and is wildly misunderstood.
So when will the whole thing start? Without further ado, let's jump into the action.
- There's not enough understanding of what the world will look like after peak population. Whether it's possible to decouple demographics from healthy economic growth is the question that will determine the next millennium. Yes, not a decade or a century.
- Public safety is one of the most powerful multipliers/dividers of any “objective” economic statistic. A supposedly poor yet incredibly safe area feels miles better than a rich and dangerous one. Vice versa works even better.
- One of the biggest challenges in life is to set a balance between anecdotal experience and data-driven conclusions. Removing the first will be a crime on common sense, and the denial of the second could easily lead into a radicalism.
- Try to avoid major historical events if possible. They mess life for decades.
- Free trade is a wildly over-hyped term. It almost never works like intended.
- Homogenous population is mostly a blessing, but the homogeneity should be in the ideas/values/culture spheres, not the physical appearances. Whether to add anything else to the list is up to each community.
- Cultures are not the same. Some are better pre-conditioned for economic growth, some are well-being champions, and some are still figuring it out.
- We might pour too much of earnings that were produced from real economy into all kind of non-life-changing tech since 2000.
- The success at the country-wide level is a notoriously easy: be great at solving problems rather than discussing things.
- I have no idea what I end up doing by the end of my career, and that might soon become an issue.
- It's incredibly hard to remain optimistic.
- Taxation is good at the core level.
- Good things need maintenance and continuous improvements. Stasis kills.
- Reading history is crazy addictive, actually learning it — tedious.
- Meritocracy is the only way forward.
- Printing books and building libraries is the best way of doing philanthropy.
- The decline of journalism is extremely dangerous to the societies we live in. This wound is already filling with voices that are seeking fame over truth.
- It's really not that hard to live a good life. It's much harder to settle with it and not burn yourself climbing higher.
- Good sleep is the most underappreciated game changer.
- Nostalgia is not always a stupid and pointless thing.
- Mastering English is a necessity. Learning other languages is a joy.
- The stickiness of activities and beliefs you pick up in a childhood is discussed widely, yet the realization of it on the personal level still seems embarrassingly weird.
- The return to a countryside will be a relief for a sizable part of the humanity.
- The world would be better if more people played chess.
- Don't pour too much energy into predicting. Iterating is the most powerful technic available.
- Labelling yourself a contrarian is a stark marker of unhealthy ego.
- I will probably never get comfortable with a high level of personal or national debt.
- A few insanely good speeches could spur the revival of any country.