A Day Trader Writes to his 14 Year Old Self

by NB Armstrong (August 2013)

One of the world’s most stay-at-home day traders has described the teenage torment of coming to terms with a desire to make money from his living room, and urged young people to ignore socializer bullying. In a moving letter to his 14 year old self, Ewing Berg describes how he once considered suicide because of the shame he felt at trading online. It happened in conjunction with a very bad morning on the Paris Bourse. “It was only because all my cutlery is disposable that I didn’t do myself some very serious harm. Plus I gained a bit back in Seoul after lunch.”

Berg, who came out about his way of making a living after another Christmas lunch at which he lied to every relative about what he does, was one of twelve solo service industry professionals asked to write to their younger selves by Me Me Me magazine. He now hopes to encourage other day traders to go public about their true selves. “Hopefully it will remove some of the stigma. And open up substantial contacts in Asia.”

Society still has a problem with single men who choose not to interact with anyone but the pizza delivery boy, but “times are changing,” says Ewing. “It is now starting to be seen as perfectly normal.”

Ewing Berg’s decision to reveal himself has prompted other day traders to come out about what they do. A Michigan man, Tray Smith, now writes a blog about how his relatives don’t seem real to him anymore in which he also details discount processed food recipes.

The Moving Letter

Dear Ewing,

You're fourteen years old and walking around with a knot tied in your stomach. You’re in real physical pain. It could be due to the European style yogurt you stole from the new boy's lunch box and that's ok. You'll learn that shy people in wheelchairs are sensitive eaters. But you feel bad about something else, something personal, of precious significance, and therefore monetary. Don’t feel bad about it. Don't feel bad about anything, Ewing. And unlike me here now, never give free advice.

You spend too much time running away from what you want to be, Ewing, from who you are. You don't need to run away. You have nothing to fear. I mean that. You have nothing to fear. Just thank god you're not that obviously gay kid in the lacrosse team. It's ok to be you. It’s ok to be different, if that difference is that you are destined to make serious Benjamins in your dressing gown while your contemporaries succumb to methamphetamines and marriages they can't get out of. They will find their way and you will find yours.

Don't hate yourself for wanting to day trade, Ewing. You’re fourteen years old. Hate yourself for that long fringe center parting, hate yourself for nodding when Ricki Lake interjects, and most of all hate yourself for pretending to be liberal in mixed company. But don’t hate yourself for wanting to day trade. God made you this way for a reason, and one day you’ll realize that reason is gamed to favor the Nikkei. So ignore those fears inside you about what other people will say or think. At fourteen years old your peers are just as full of fear as you are, especially the ones who have to bus it home. (This is 94, before Starbucks zoned out the gangbangers.)

Sometimes you pray. You ask yourself, “Will I have to live like this? Can I not grow up to do something of social worth?” But then you remember the uncle who was perpetually carrying around that broom and definitely lacked a career plan. Pray that you don’t end up like him (or her – later on you’ll have your suspicions). In any case, enough with the praying! You’re not damned or going to hell, Ewing. Though, of course, you were not to know about Richard Dawkins pre the internet. Instead, enjoy your youth, and remember everyone else does that first thing in the morning, too. (In fact, do that a lot more.)

You are about to embark on a journey, Ewing. One of infinite possibility, involving cutting edge communication techniques, a one room apartment in the exurbs, and thousands of pieces of spam mail. It will all work out, I promise, despite the incessant viruses originating in North Korea though for a while you'll blame the Bilderburgers. You will succeed, Ewing. You will make it. And most importantly, almost everyone else won't. You will one day be rich and you will one day be in a position to do an awful lot of good, that latter being in no way an obligatory corollary of the former (so relax).

For you will make it as a day trader, Ewing. You will make it in an industry where “making it” is defined as not losing more than one relative's property in a financial year. And yes, to answer the question you now ask yourself every day, you will be able to afford a life pass on Playboy Airlines. You will make the shit out of it, Ewing.

But I'm not going to tell you exactly what happens to you in the future, because that might change you. Plus, I could be the subject of a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority investigation. But, my fourteen year old self, I will advise you of this. Be careful of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

And one other thing: you do have a purpose in life. You were not born handicapped by your nature, like the Bush family. When you hear guys in the locker room ragging on the stay at home white collar community remember this. They aren't really Democrats. Politically, they don't really know who they are yet, like Chris Christie. And just as with Chris Christie their insecurities will lead to weight issues. They are, for now, only trying to curry favor with their peers, trying not to be different. Just like adult Democrats do, Ewing. God bless them (or Richard Dawkins bless them). Time will pass, as will your feelings of guilt, as all feelings of guilt do. “Guilt is for mom and dad” is just one of the five or six refrigerator stickers around which you will base your general attitude to the outside world. So toss that encyclopedia you’ve always got your head stuck inside and pick up Ayn Rand! Pick up hope…

Stop feeling so lonely big guy! You're not alone. You will be one among many thousands of friendless atomized hoarders living off canned food and online “girlfriends”. You don’t. Have to. Feel you’re alone. In a few short years there will be forums on which you can share your misanthropy. (Here, go directly to peopleareshit.com. Just saving you one Google search, fella.)

Which brings me to some advice I want to give you.

Ewing, find someone with whom you can talk about what you’re feeling inside, someone you can trust, someone with a precocious heart, and very credible Wall Street connections (ideally you will speak one major east Asian language and have R++). Because you cannot continue to trudge around with this weight of burden, not – and I mean this bud – not without a serious Hong Kong strategy. You must share your pain with somebody, Ewing. Thereafter all sharing must stop.

Everything will work out, regardless of the leveraging crises that eventually led to food shortages in the West. You’re going to be happy. We are going to be happy. Together, I and me. You, Ewing Berg, are eventually going to face the world as the truly beautiful person you are, from behind closed curtains, online, calling your parents once (maybe) a month, subsisting on ramyeon and tap water, not counting your age in years, and needing only two t-shirts.

Never forget: Youre beautiful.

Ewing Berg



NB Armstrong is a writer and translator. His latest books, This Gangster is One of Your Own and Korean Straight Lines, are now available. [email protected]


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