All of these avenues of anguish were ways they were protecting their long-developed self-images that they were valuable human beings solely because they were high-tech careerists. For hadn't they had the last laugh on all of their former high-school and college classmates who thought they were weird? They had been making $75,000 a year, with options added, while their former classmates were lucky to make $30,000. They could flaunt their economic superiority as payback time for their being shunned in earlier years by their classmates.
But now their self-esteem was under attack. Many felt their stomachs turning into empty pits of fear. If they had no career identity, then they were nothing! That feeling is the equivalent of death. [...]