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Ask HN: What keeps you up at night? What do you worry about?
22 points by parkeragee 134 days ago | hide | past | web | 76 comments | favorite
Just generally speaking, what do you worry about the most? Family's safety & health, finances, work, etc.?



Not being able to make enough money. As I lived in extreme poverty in my childhood (and all that changed thanks to online MOOCs). I now work as remote SE and I have around $10k in savings. I am graduating with robotics and AI masters degree. But I always fear that I will lose all my money and be poor again. I literally prefer dying than being poor again. The worst days of my life, I couldn't have a proper childhood because of that, it's the thing that I fear the most in this life and haunts me everyday.


True but you survived it. You adapted and made something out of it. Don't forget that strength. No one can take that a way from you.


If you ever get about to writing your story, Lemme know. I'd definitely like to read it


I am in the same situation as you, but without the savings plus I'm unemployed for 2 years now.

But why would you say such thing? You had nothing as a child and used that as your strong motive, you have managed to save some money and if God forbid you lose your savings, do you think you won't be able to make them again? I doubt it!

You sound like a strong person, so don't be afraid of anything. Everything and I mean it, everything happens for a reason.


Have you tried helping a little other poor children ? Maybe their happiness will bring some to you too ? (like parents who live their life through their children)

Do you exercise ? Smoke?


How much time is $10k ?


My only daughter stopped breathing and turned blue 3 days after she was born, and I, lucky to have attended a first aid course just 3 weeks prior to that, was able to perform CPR and make her regain consciousness. She's 14 months old now and perfectly healthy, but the horror of those minutes where she was dying in my hands still haunts me. It's getting better, but every now and then my brain briefly relives those moments.


Thanks for sharing, shows why we should all do a first aid course.


1) Climate change and the collapse of modern civilization.

2) Dying before having children or proving my worth. Living in poverty.

3) Losing face. I don't want to disappoint my family anymore.

4) The fear of diabetes and other illnesses.

5) The cultural and demographic destruction of Europe.


Especially 1 and 5! These are also a big part of my daily worries.


Is #5 really happening?


[flagged]


> Although not at the expense of the indigenous people of Europe

Just an ironic counterpoint, European colonizers did not give two hoots about that and they benefitted immensely from it. Not all of Europe of course.


Colonization had been a worldwide pattern of most civilizations, from Ancient Greece to the Far East. Obvious irony doesn't make an argument. My guess is that you're playing the 'white guilt' card to gaslight the conversation.

> they benefitted immensely from it.

Yes, that was the whole point of colonialism.


So many cards these days, I have no interest in keeping track, sorry to disappoint. I am sure you will be better than me with all the card book keeping.

Seems I pressed some buttons, would that be the "overcompensate for potential accusation" button ?


Please continue to derail the conversation through petty name calling.


Do you think there's a solution?


We cannot talk about solutions because we cannot acknowledge the problem. See how the parent comment, an extremely mild and balanced first hand account, is now flagged.


Money & being the sole income earner in the house (wife and 3 kids) and doing it by freelancing. Like most Americans, we live payment-by-payment.

The other problem I have is anxiety, procrastination, and similar issues.

If you're asking this to fish for product ideas, I would love to see a managed task-master assistant service.

Remember that story of a guy that used to pay someone to sit next to him and hit him whenever he was procrastinating? Something similar could be set up where when your day starts, you connect with your assistant via video chat. They can watch everything happening on your screen.

At the start of the day, they should spend some time asking what you want to get done and break it down into a task list for you and feed you pomodoro-like chunks. An assistant could monitor 4 to 8 people at the same time with the right software (screenshots and list of open window titles).

A paid task-master or accountability-buddy. Maybe $3 or $4 an hour for the service.


Have you thought about setting up a system like this with another freelance friend? Every day you could hop on a call with them and tell them your goals. You can help each other flesh out task lists and determine 'pomodoro-like chunks'.

It seems like you wouldn't really need to hire someone for this, you can just find an accountability buddy who would benefit from these meetings too.


I worry that I'm wasting my years on a career that keeps me comfortable but doesn't really exercise my mind. I often daydream about working in academia, journalism or some other vocation where I could be paid to research, think and write. Then I snap awake and get back to writing generic web applications shuffling strings around.


I'm a tenured professor, and I came here to post that my wife and I are struggling with whether or not we should move and I should quit my career. She has a job offer, and we've had realtors over to discuss prepping our house for sale, so it's not a purely theoretical question.

Part of the issue is that I don't know what I'd do next. I'd probably watch our child for a couple of years, and then my best guess is to go get a second undergraduate degree, in comp sci, maybe a combined bachelor's-master's degree. But I don't know.

The problem is that academics is a corrupt mess on the inside, and people on the outside, like legislators, push for solutions that will only exacerbate the problems. Its as if your child had diabetes and certain influential physicians' groups started advocating that the best thing for diabetes is to eat lots of simple carbohydrates.

Yes, you theoretically have a lot of freedom in academics, but there's lots of caveats to that. Nowadays, universities only care about what brings in money, so even if you think something is important to research and you don't need money to do it, if it doesn't bring in grant dollars, it doesn't matter, regardless of citation rates. Social dynamics are about 80% of success as well--fads are rampant, and who is credited with something is wildly unpredictable (just last night, I read that something that is commonly cited in my field, even more so than Watson & Crick's DNA paper, reflects a misattribution of credit, which the author actually is explicit about in that paper. It's as if everyone attributed helix structure to Watson & Crick, but if Watson & Crick explicitly stated in their paper "hey, this isn't our idea, we got it from Smith & Jones" and almost no one remembers Smith & Jones).

I could go on and on.

The worst part about it for me is that I feel trapped. Universities tend to hire younger untenured faculty because it's cheaper, and there's only so many places to go anyway. I miss the geography of home, and feel out of place in my field and society (just hypothetically, imagine being a historian by degree, but who does research on signal processing in an archaeological imaging context--reasonable enough, right? But now solve the problem of how to do PR with the conservative legislators who think the liberal arts are useless and should be gutted). Also, I've specialized so specifically it's hard to figure out how to transition to something else (again, who would hire a historian who specializes in archeaological imaging research?)

I often feel like all I want is to do is live someplace that I like in terms of climate, and is modestly interesting. Most of the time I feel like I'd rather be putting together generic web apps in a place I love than being forced to live someplace that feels alien to me because of some freedom and security that is anything but.


All injustice of the world keeps me up at night. That good people are dying. That many people have no way out of slavery, poverty, survival mode. That it happens while rich and powerful deny them a chance. That war is everywhere in one form or another. That centuries will pass before we get many of today's problems fixed. That many people stay broken and miserable despite having what seems to be normal life from the outside. That racism, sexism, bullying are everywhere. That so few people actually care about all those things.


What happens after death? Do you simply cease to exist? What happens to your mind and soul? I'm not a religious person but sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about this. It's such a weird feeling when you think deeply about it.

I try and not think too much about it.


I've also experienced this kind of existential dread on and off for the past 10 years or so. What really helped me was reading the work of Alan Watts. I find the idea of the concepts of "self" and "other" being mere illusions and that everyone is the universe looking at itself through a different lens really appealing, and makes the idea of dying someday more acceptable to me.


I doubt that minds survive death. Anything's possible, of course. But expecting survival seems iffy.

Here's the cool thing, however. You'll never know that you're dead. And, unless you're being executed, you'll never know for sure that you're dying. Or at least, the experience probably won't last for very long.


Life after death is like life before birth. What were you doing five hundred years ago? It will be just like that.


The past few years have been really hard with family health. On a similar theme, my fitness could be better, but it's not something that keeps me up at night.

Outside of the family/health stuff, I'd say my biggest worry is actually getting something meaningful done in my life. Don't get me wrong, I've got a good job with a well-paid salary and benefits, good family life and financially comfortable, I'm happy and grateful for all that as well.

However, I know I'm technically capable of doing or building something interesting, and ideally profitable to a point that it could be a business to support me. But I always seem to be stuck in the somewhat cliche spiral of pointless procrastination, browsing HN under the false pretence of fishing for ideas and inspiration, which is really just fueling the procrastinating.

I'm not sure if my head is just wired differently to others, but I really struggle to find ideas that aren't a blatant copy of others, and the original ones I can tell are flawed by design or the market is so small that it'll never me more than a little bit of Adsense revenue etc. Similarly, I'm envious of others people's focus to actually get something built, shipped and profitable.


That a history of trauma and lack of stable attachments in my life has but one likely outcome: The eventual end of my life by my own hands.

I see a therapist regularly, but I've always had this sense of being a broken individual who is always a few steps behind everyone else. It feels hopeless and definitely keeps me up at night.


Most people are broken. Only people who have had a fantastically privileged upbringing and have never felt want don't feel broken in some way, and even then, they likely fake it to fit in.

I feel like I'm living in a reference counting memory management system - once nobody else depends on me then I will be reclaimed as garbage. It's what keeps me fighting to stay connected to everyone I know, but it's so tiring.


I think many are broken in one way or another from experience. Do you exercise ? Any (outgoing) hobbies ?


Gaining weight. I love eating. I could eat a lot of food. I also have night eating syndrome. So I usually have my first meal of the day very early in the morning around 2:00 AM or so. This happens after I fall asleep. I will wake up in my sleep and grab food from the kitchen, usually about 400 calories worth of food. Then, I go back to sleep. I haven't been able to solve this problem.



That looks to be a potential solution. Thank you. I will make sure not to have snack foods in the cabinets that are able consumed without cooking (e.g. chips, cookies, etc.) I only keep rice, pasta, and sauce in the cabinets.

I could also lock the key in my mailbox before I go to sleep, then grab it in the morning.


Do you exercise ?


3 to 5 times a week, cardio (30 to 60 min.)


I don't worry about anything, but Netflix tends to keep me up at night.


Hmm, let's see what keeps me up all night.

  * Unemployed for 2 years
  * 35, single due to unemployment
  * I feel lucky; no kids to torture with this misery
  * Mortgage ~= 209K euros
  * Thinking of ways to make a living
  * Companies avoid hiring me for some reason and they simply reply back with an "overqualified" email.
  * If I was given the opportunity to change profession, what would be the ideal job for me?
  * OCD, Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), introvert by nature. Now that's a deadly cocktail!
  * Have zero friends to go out, plus living in the mountains with parents (thank you financial recession)
  * Bloody vampires (mosquitoes) around the room, they are everywhere!
  * Remembering things I did when I was 6 or 7 years old and feel embarrassed now. It happens all the time...


Damn dude, that's messed up (sorry). Assuming you're a programmer, can't you make a `incremental persistent improvment` program ? Like fixing stuff 1 by 1.

Let's start: Do you train ?


My major is Computer Science, but my professional experience is around Technical Support.

I was never given the opportunity to master a language and I have been experimenting with programming since 2003, always at an academic level.

On the other hand, as I say "what you know or think you know, has nothing to do with reality".

When you say train, you mean exercising and such? No, the only thing my body can handle is walking. When I exercise or do any other form of physical activity, I get sick easily and takes me a whole week to recover.

Now about incremental persistent improvement, I do my best to improve myself. To give you an idea, I was surrounded by negative people and decided to cut ties with nearly all of them to save myself from pessimism. I still have a long way to go, but I'm getting there.


Yes I meant exercise. Have you checked with a doctor about your issue ? Can you swim (should be best for body&mind) ?

Do you eat healthy food ? Do you get enough sleep ?

Do you know python (or some other lang) ? Can you check projects on upwork (or similiar) and start from the bottom and work your way up (what I did) ?

Can you do a program where you list all your issues and beneath them list several optional things that you think you can do/try to improve them, put them on a todo-task-list and try to work on them everyday (by marking) and doing/checking some stats ? (is there a program for this, kinda want it for myself too)

Where do you live ? Have you tried checking meetup.com or similar sites for activities/events to do (..hard in mountain I guess?) ?

Any drugs ? Like, do you smoke ?


> Yes I meant exercise. Have you checked with a doctor about your issue ? Can you swim (should be best for body&mind) ?

Yes, my doctors told me that my system is such that is vulnerable to excessive exercise and sudden weather changes.

> Do you eat healthy food ?

Yep, Greek food all day and all night.

> Do you get enough sleep ?

Like a good looking princess.

> Do you know python (or some other lang) ?

Yep, I know Python (Django is sexy!), C, C++, PHP, JavaScript - Node.js (ES2015 / ES6), some Perl / Lua, etc etc.

> Can you check projects on upwork (or similiar) and start from the bottom and work your way up (what I did) ?

I have tried remote jobs and could not compete with Chinese, Indians, and Pakistani developers. They offer cheap labor and a rich portfolio, whereas I was not given the slightest chance to compete; so I gave up on that.

> Can you do a program where you list all your issues and beneath them list several optional things that you think you can do/try to improve them, put them on a todo-task-list and try to work on them everyday (by marking) and doing/checking some stats ? (is there a program for this, kinda want it for myself too)

Being an OCD person obliges you to be organized lol, so yeah I have done my TODO list and I have it right in front of me right now to be honest with you. Comparing my past self with the present one, I have improved by orders of magnitude.

> Where do you live ? Have you tried checking meetup.com or similar sites for activities/events to do (..hard in mountain I guess?) ?

In Cyprus. As an introvert, I can't stand being surrounded by people. It exhausts me within minutes and I need to get back home, to get in my room to recharge. Some times I get so exhausted that I need vitamin support to heal; it sucks -_-

> Any drugs ? Like, do you smoke ?

COFFEE! LOTS AND LOTS OF COFFEE!


Can you somehow fix the introvertness (i have no idea) ?

Can you quit coffee ? I did, and now only use it on special situations.


Introversion is not something that can be fixed for the simplest reason: it's a trait not a disease. I really like being an introvert, but I need to figure out ways to make a living by surrounding it.

About quitting coffee, I thought about it and probably I should...some day!


I also used to worry about money after buying the 1st house - it is always more expensive than every projection or budget you make + there is always something to do/repair or buy... Fortunately for me, those worries are in the past and I am sleeping like a baby again...


Generally I tend to avoid doing things that would keep me up at night. I used to be fascinated by the dark web / dark net, but some of the stuff on there is enough to give you post traumatic stress disorder, and I still have to be careful surfing the dark net. I usually stick to political blogs where people would be very soon silenced if they tried voicing those opinions on the clearnet. Marginalized communities, whistleblowing blogs, tutorials on how to 'exit the matrix' and become independent from Big Brother, etc


Doing a side project (open source) is what keeps me up at night. I don't know why, I just push hard myself at least there is one commit a day. Beside that, I think random things a lot. I always waste my night to think about it rather than plan or take an action.

I worry about my health. My sleep time is decrease. I have to wake up in the morning and then go to office. When my sleep time is not enough, I wouldn't focus. I lose my valuable time for starting my day, like exercise and meditation. I heard that would be a problem if you don't have enough sleep.


So you don't exercise ? How about swimming ? Should also help you with the sleep, from the exhaustion. Like try swimming for 1 hour uninterrupted and you'll be ripped/slept.


I don't swimming. I just walk to the office or store. That's my daily exercise. Anyway, thank you for recommending swimming to me. I want to give it a try.


I'm on my first week of swimming and am really liking it (used to kickbox + run previously). Hell you can even get water-resistant mp3-player (i did). But just walking is too little.


I worry about getting corrupted by money and power. At first all i wanted was enough to survive. Then i found out "enough" had no physical barriers. The more money you have, the more you do to keep it or and the more you do to make more.

I worry about being 40 or 50 or 60 and having as much money as a man could dream about and yet finding no peace or having no memories. I worry about looking back to when i was 25 and all i can remember is sitting infront of a computer hitting a keyboard with all my strength and watching that time pass away, never to be regained.


Can you change to a part-time job (and then try to earn as much as possible on those 20hours/week). Any hobbies (beside computer) ?


I worry about my kids' ability to earn a decent living.


That I will get burned out trying to pursue my passion while holding down a day job to pay the bills, and that unless I give up my passion I will never have a day job lucrative enough to live a comfortable life (savings, house, car, "essentials").

In essence, I'm afraid of having to sacrifice what makes me happy for living a comfortable life.


That by the time I'm finally done with my student loan and credit card debt, something else will come around that will yet again prevent me from hitting my financial goals.

That I even accumulated $40k worth of credit card debt in the first place. This wasn't one of my proudest decisions.

That I'll never be happy with what I have and will always strive for more.

That I'll lose my fiancee/wife in the process.


What are your goals ? Everybody makes mistakes, you don't have to feel so bad for the $40k. I see that you didn't expect it from yourself, right ?

Why do you think you'll lose your wife ? Any bad habits (gamble, smoke, no exercise) ?


$10M invested in index funds within 10 years is my ultimate goal. This will enable me to essentially live my current lifestyle without needing to worry about work.

More immediately, saving up for a down payment and house fund ($30k for the down, $10k for the house fund) and an emergency nest ($30k) are what I'm looking at.

The credit card thing was interesting. I used to be pretty vigilant about keeping debt down especially with how high my student loan debt was at the time ($200k, now $48k) But then I discovered credit card churning. I tried to churn cards to collect airline miles, so I signed up for a few of them. I also used to get bonuses ($20k or so) that would pay off whatever debt I amassed in one fell swoop. Those bonuses eventually stopped coming (i left finance), but my spending didn't drop off. I also never did a good job at tracking them. (I do now and have for the last year.) One thing lead to another, and I eventually piled on $40k.

The ironic thing is that I eventually became a travelling consultant and now amass plenty of miles without even trying.

I'm afraid of working so hard that I'll neglect her.


I worry about earthquakes (Seattle), machine learning eliminating technical support jobs, and longer term career prospects.


I worry about not being brave enough to quit my day job (developer) and develop the app that I KNOW would be successful if executed properly.

Also, not being able to build a family later if I fail in my next venture. I'm 31 and feel the pressure to build a family somehow.


How many months have you saved up ? Can't you move somehow to part-time and continue doing the app on the side ?

Why no family after next venture ? A friend of mine started creating a baby at 50.


I have 6-12 months saved up. I guess I could do part time but I feel like I have to go all-in on my app for it to be a success.


Never being able to retire.

My country turning into either a theocracy or an autocracy (or maybe both at once). Whether there's any way to stem the tide or get out before it slides any further.

Those are the big ones.


What do you do and where are you from ?


Software development; USA.


Where I'm from (AL), 200K+ (3M population) people enter a lottery every year to migrate to the USA. Like they dream of it, the american dream. You're not that bad. Maybe too much media ?

You can go to EU. Easiest country to go to (and best for english!) is NL (i went but I like more working remote in a cheap country). The wages may suck though and you won't be able to save a lot and retire early. Hell, you can go and then return back.

Do you exercise ?


I am worried about my grades and my scholarship. I am doing a really tough courses on the Applied Mathematics degree and, currently, my grades are not really good.


Study! It's worth it! Or drop it down a level. Maybe you have too many classes going on. Work load might be too high.


That I am an imposter and will not achieve, in personal and professional life, anything significant. I might be wasting my life.



That I am not good enough to do the things I dream of doing.


I think I am having mental breakdown.

& I don't know what to do about it!


Hey Max, you should get help. Speak to family / close friends about it. If you have someone you trust, ask them to help you find professional help / a counselor. Seeking help early can help you prevent the mental breakdown.


If you're serious, get help. Get it from a counselor - it doesn't have to be a full psychologist. They should know if you need more than they can offer, and can refer you to someone who's a better fit.


I once told some one "I trust". but they just made fun of me.


It is interesting how people react when you tell them something that is not part of the script they are used to hearing. Some laugh things like this off because they are uncomfortable with what you are telling them and have no other way to deal with it other than to joke.


Do you personally know a doctor (whatever type) ? They usually understand.


Neurodegenerative disease.




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