Sunday, 18 August 2013

Priorities in life

Second half of August. Still warm and sunny, but after prolonged drought trees begin to shed their leaves, nights are getting longer, evening and morning are getting colder. Imminent onset of autumn brings out reflective moods, thoughts of time inexorably passing by. Seasons of the year change and with each next such cycle each of us a year older, one year closer to departure, has one year fewer to make the most of our lives…

On 1 August I got a text message. An university friend invited me for a party thrown on occasion of her 26th birthday. Many of us after passing by the quarter-of-century milestone avowed to desist from fulsome celebrations. These were naturally jokes, we are far from being and feeling old, but one’s 20s are the times when you no longer want to be older to get more independence, freedom, etc. The best years, that are said to be the period of studies, are gone and so many of my peers, although they still feel young, would appreciate a chance to rejuvenate themselves… Coming back to the main thread, I was delighted to get the opportunity to meet up with some of fellow students and to… maybe meet some new people. From what I noticed, with time such opportunities may become rare, especially if you have a specific circle of friends that seldom extends beyond them and if your life begins to revolve around work… The party was scheduled, conveniently for me, for Saturday evening, but on the preceding Wednesday the friend decided to bring it forward for Friday evening. Not a favourable coincidence. Had that day a rough ride at work that went on despite Friday late afternoon and continued, for me, until after seven p.m., when I could hand over the job to another team, whose members were supposed to finish it, and knock off. Tired, hungry and anything, but freshened up I turned up home twenty minutes after eight p.m., barely escaping an impending rainstorm. An opportunity missed. A friend who, for the same reasons, also could not make it on Friday promised to meet the party host when pressure in her office eases up, but… well, it won’t be the same.

What I’m getting at is that life after graduation has grown in some monotony and funnily enough, amount of spare time has shrunk since then. Just look at the history of this blog – in summer of 2010 when I began the first full-time job with my current employer, posting frequency declinde to reach the bare minimum of one post per week (such frequency, on average, allows to call your blog “regularly run”). Weekly timetables changing each semester, new courses and lecturers, every-day opportunities to get familiar with someone or something new are, in their pre-2011 intensity, thing of the past. Each day begins to look the same – knocking on at 8 a.m, leaving office between 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., each day roughly the same faces (I should be thankful to my employer for its methods of accelerating staff turnover ;-)), one of a few routes to and from work. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining. I do draw a lot of satisfaction from my work, get on well with my workmates (feeling of being the odd one has waned a bit), the job is financially rewarding and despite some drawbacks, the bottom line is without doubt positive. The monotony has crept in and it can’t be helped. If you say changing a job might be an option, I will refute by saying “not really” – I’d meet new people, face new challenges, immerse in new corporate culture, etc., but after a few months the problem could revert and even exacerbate, if I felt the decision had not been right.

The real issue is that, like many people of my age, I utilise nearly 100% of my bountiful energy at work. This means I’m motivated, flexible, energising – each employer would appreciate such employee, before they burn out. From my standpoint such risk doesn’t threaten me, but in a few years, who knows? The rest of my energy I offload by cycling and swimming regularly and doing household chores that require more physical effort. This has commendable side effects, as I’m fitter than as a student (despite starting to use a car every day), and should be kept up no matter what future holds, but is not a sustainable way to ensure mental balance in the long-run. To be truly happy in life, you can’t live for pleasure or for money, you can’t live for yourself, you have to live for the others… Focusing on work is not sustainable, especially if your employer doesn’t offer you stability. Job loss hence does not have to be confined to loss of salary and financial hardship or blank hole in your CV, for someone whose commitment (not mistake it for a drama of workaholics, these are two different problems) to work is excessive, mental shock might be more painful…

The only real option is pairing up and raising a family. At some stage bonds with friends naturally loosen up when they get married, go abroad, become preoccupied with their carriers. Personal life should have a priority, professional life is essential, should give satisfaction and pleasure, be the source of income, but should not occupy the top position on the list of priorities…

Just signed up for the level 2 of the exam. The exam is traditionally scheduled for the first Saturday of June, my self-study is planned to kick off with the end of summer holidays. Nine months spent learning. A friend (incidentally the same who failed to come to the party on account of burning the midnight oil at work) said it would do me good, as I would have a goal to pursue. I argued this coin had the other side, as this goal is too specific and set in time, so that there is little beyond it. I can take the exam, a few weeks after learn to have passed it, maybe get a pay rise. And then what? The third level? Next some nine months spent swotting up? If I do well, again passed. Then what? Earning a charter? Getting a promotion? More money? More authority? More respect? And on the sidelines what? Life slipping through my fingers, feeling of time passing by more and more quickly – turning 30 soon and apart from professional success anything else?

I’m not trying to debase the importance of development and education. Such career path is chosen by many young people who deliberately put back raising families until they turn 30, reach financial stability etc. Some do this successfully, some fail and suffer. It’s not that I claim one idea for life is right, while the other wrong. It’s not about passing judgements, it’s only about weighing up pros and cons, before it’s too late, to avoid regretting.

“Polityka” in July printed an article on singles and their loneliness. My Soulmate (my workmate, aged 38, married woman) upon reading this said I was on the path on become one from the most pitiful group of singles… Young (below 30 or even 35) singles have been accepted by the society and postponing the moment of tying the knot is natural these days; reasons to worry crop up when you turn 35. The group is said to be most pitiful, as one of their representatives, woman aged 38, TV producer, claims even her rubbish are pitiful. Key conclusions from that part of the article are:
1) most of older (>35) singles in fact don’t look for a partner or their search is doom to fail, as their expectations towards idealised second half are too exorbitant,
2) they have been convinced by their nearest and dearest they deserve someone exceptional,
(my comment: the two together entrap them, in a certain age it’s no use in “cherry picking”, as cherries are long in relationships are few of them return to “secondary market”, they can only go after “leftovers”)
3) one fourth of well-educated women from big cities are not in a relationship and fill in the emptiness by working like dogs,
4) the demand for a self-confident, motivated, excessively committed to their employer single has been created by contemporary capitalism, which apart from letting singles earn well and bringing them on unfettered consumption, produced hollow employees who might easily get lost in critical situation and whose value for the company might diminish rapidly,
5) being in a relationship increases resistance to stress and reduces risk of burnout and becoming a workaholic, because living for another person gives sense of life…

Of course as one day your company may fire you, your personal life may also shutter unexpectedly. Bereavements, divorces and other misfortunate events happen and so what – life’s about taking risks. You may say having a happy personal life without good job, decent money, wealth, feeling secure is worth little, but having all things people bend over backwards to chase and grab, and having no personal life, is then worth nothing…

How many times can the delusions be shattered? Over the last two years, how many times did it seemed this gloom was coming to an end? How many times did I think the orange glow on eastern sky signalled those were the last moments of darkness before the dawn? Each time the glow darkened and there was no sunrise. There were intimations of daybreak, the was some dim light in the night, but the sun has not come up. After each such dashed hope there is a period of withdrawal that lasts some 4 months (in more serious cases it takes longer to recover). Then ensues a revival. If you don’t try, you won’t succeed. Happiness is in your hands, if this time and next time it doesn’t work out, you can’t lose your heart…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No need for gloom at this stage. Remember, the optimal age difference for man-woman is plus seven to eight years (older man).

What a woman wants from a man is principally a carer; having the cash to give her security is crucial.

But a relationship should not be based on strategies and ruses; the important thing is intimacy - and this includes sharing the deepest secrets of one another's souls.

Don't rush into a mistake because you feel the need to settle down now. But then it is a numbers game; you do also need to get out and meet MANY woman - with the knowledge that NEARLY ALL will not be The One.