To get status, you have to give up status.
definitely think both are true, and I suspect they do happen to everyone in some measure early in life but they’re neither aware of it nor do they process through it. a lot of avoidance or bailing out of the feelings at a young age which isn’t long term valuable
Thanks for writing this! Reading it I wondered about limbo as a new desired status. I am in limbo myself (resigned to make space for something new), and a lot of people I interact with express "wow, if I could only ever...." so it's being held in regard by some. But when one is in it it's hard. Reading Venkatesh's Art of Gig right now, and speaks to how one needs to construct/create their own identity/status now that they aren't provided one by convention. !
As someone who is in voluntary status limbo right now, I relate to this piece. One thing I’d add is that it also shows who your genuine relationships are (both personal and professional). I’ve learned that some people treat me very differently now than when I had “status”
Great piece, writing that makes an amorphous feeling already present in my head into a clearly definable thing is wonderful.
Nellie Bowles' piece on prestige is great on this front too: https://www.thefp.com/p/how-we-changed-our-minds-in-2021
Excellent piece. It made me reflect on whether we should see voluntary & involuntary status limbo experiences as essential. And if so, whether there’s value in having those experiences come early in life.
I like the concept of "minimum viable status", and I agree it isn't the best but also not the worst.
Once you accrued enough "status points" within a specific circle, you feel stronger and you feel you don't have much to prove anymore.
That's possibly the best moment to jump into status limbo: you're psychologically free from status consideration concerns and, presumably, you have enough financial backing to take the leap (more or less) stress-free.
Thanks for writing this. Good read.
Wonderful article. As someone considering voluntary status limbo you've articulated really well what this choice really entails. I've thought about the financial dimension but I suspect the emotional dimension and impact on status will be the hardest
Sasha Chapin wrote about the 'moat of low status here' - https://sashachapin.substack.com/p/the-moat-of-low-status-68a and how status limbo could be a moat for those who embrace it. Almost like how uncertainty is a moat for startups. Great complement to what you wrote here
Very interesting piece, thank you for sharing
This is my 3rd time in status limbo. It's true you're more prepared each time but the risk is escaping it too soon. This is the first time I'm really taking the time to seize the "opportunity" of getting to a point of sheer alignment without jumping on the first rescue (job) coming my way. Hard to resist sometimes though.
Felt an incredible amount of relatability reading this one. Left a tech job a year back to achieve personal goals (writing included) and try to start my own thing.
You write so well, Anu! Thank you 🤍
This one hit hard for me. I gave up a lucrative big tech job to go be an entrepreneur and learn different businesses I might want to pursue but have fallen flat. But time to accept the status limbo!
'But they were concerned about the questions “people” would ask. People had certain expectations of them. They would wonder.'
For me, it's been the matter of money more than people. Will I be able to sustain my current lifestyle if I let go of this status?
You've put words to something that I've had trouble articulating after leaving my tech job to start my own company. It was something I always wanted to do (so it should be all positive, right?) but didn't anticipate the mental journey and amount of angst I'd have after electing into limbo. I was also a bit surprised by how strongly I felt a loss of status.
In my experience there's also a valley of death similar to that of a startup - you start off excited about your reasons for going into limbo and you're still close enough to your status shields that they can reassure you. Then you hit a valley of death when the initial excitement wears off and you start feeling the status loss more strongly. For me during this time, the angst of the limbo was almost enough to push my out of limbo by giving up. I think leaving at this time is also the riskiest for ending up net neutral.
After I accepted what you're so aptly coining as "status loss", it felt less disorienting and has helped me do better work and focus more. Hopefully this will ultimately help me end up net positive after the status limbo.
Nice read. check out "status anxiety" by Alain D Botton