2024 Log: Learning Stoicism

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DISCLAIMER: This is a new 2024 Log series that I will use to share my learnings and concerns related to my own mental health and wellbeing. This is definitely not related to tech, and more like ranting, so feel free to skip. You have been warned.

Not gonna lie, but there’s a lot of psychics saying that 2024 is a year to look out for chaos, disturbance, and wars. There’s even one prediction that there will be another pandemic similar to (or even worse) the Covid 19 that we just went through.

I’m a software engineer by profession, and I shouldn’t believe in these mumbo jumbo. But, if you’re a fellow engineer, I’m sure you’ve been in situations where things happen when it shouldn’t be (like your code suddenly works without changing anything, lol). So, I decided to believe some of these rumors, though with a grain of salt.

However, as I’m reading through the global events, the more I’m inclined to believe it’s true… well, for starters, do you know that this year is the year when most elections are held globally? For example, Taiwan, the US, and Indonesia. At least in Indonesia, elections usually cause political and societal unrest caused by the losing party, although this shouldn’t be as hardcore as the previous two elections.

The war in the Middle East is still raging on in the beginning of 2024.

Additionally, there’s the raging war in the Middle East and Ukraine, and everyone seems to be gearing up for war. Also, there’s the economic unrest causing layoffs everywhere, especially for startups and tech companies (Google, Discord, Twitch). This event even has its own name: Tech Winter. This may be caused by either (or all of these) the aftermath of Covid pandemic, high inflation, the raging war, or investors realizing they’re burning too much money and suddenly want profits.

Anyway, that’s enough fear mongering. I’ve also been troubled by these events to the point I just want to give up. But suicide is never the answer. Not only it is sinful according my faith — I’ve watched and seen too many paranormal shows and they agree on one thing: if you commit suicide, your soul will never (or very difficult to) find peace or pass on. Finally, after much reflecting, I finally realize that there’s one way to get through this: learn to let go, or some would say, stoicism.

Stoicism is an ancient Hellenistic philosophy focused on the pursuit of eudaimonia (a well-lived life) through the practice of virtue and the acceptance of what is beyond one’s control.

As we all know, there are many things in our lives that are beyond our control. For example, our jobs, our government, how our people think of us. Stoicism, in the simplest terms, teaches to let go of these, and focus on what we can control, for example, how we spend our money, how we prepare for the turbulences ahead based on information we have, and so on.

Aren’t you tired of stress at work? Learning stoicism can help alleviate some of the stress.

In my case, Stoicism really helps. For example, at the end of January, the company I work for laid off almost 50% of its engineering division (and PMs). Honestly, there were signs in both online and offline, and the working condition was very tense and filled with fear. I too, was very, very stressed out due it. But then again, I learned to let go. I kept telling myself that the decision to leave / stay was beyond my control. I should just do my job, and if I ever got laid off, I’ll just take the severance pay for a quick travel and arranging my thoughts before looking for a new job. The result? Well, the stress was still there, but I felt much better, much more prepared when the announcement came.

So yeah, 2024 may not be a pretty year, with potential chaos and disasters, but at least we can learn Stoicism, or the art of letting go of things that are beyond our control, to better prepare our minds, while building our own exit plan. Anyway, let’s wish for the best for each other this year and beyond! ????

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