Thursday, July 16, 2015

The One Who Wants Time to Stop

The author met a former coworker from Rakuten, who he has not met in some four years since he quickly departed from the company after less than a year of work.  Interestingly enough, he had met her on the very day she was handing in her marriage registration.  The author, not someone eager in communication, obviously had no idea of the fact that she was getting married, or that she was in a serious relationship at all.  Surprising at it seems, four years is not a short time for a person to grow up.  It gives a person much time to proceed with personal plans outside the career path.

She is certainly not the only example of the author's acquaintances moving forward with their personal plans.  It is not at all uncommon for the author, at his age, to see Facebook friends posting news of marriage or pictures of babies being just born.  Happiness, for them, has been clearly defined and expressed in their words and photos.  And for most of those who are seeing these posts, they somehow start to feel the urgency to tie the knot as well, just because their current stage in life (i.e. age) calls for it.  It's pretty much a snowballing effect, with a happy pair of newlyweds bringing about other ones in short time periods.

To place so much effort in such personal affairs, however, means one has to reduce focus somewhere else.  The former colleague of the coworker, for instance, has remained with the bigger Rakuten structure for close to five years now, reaching a point where she can leave the grunt late night work to the newbies and get off on time.  For author, getting off on-time was not only an abstract and not realistically possible idea back in Rakuten, but also even much more recently, some four years down the career path, in his last days at Rocket Internet.

The more time one spends on working late hours and flying around to different countries for both work and pleasure, there necessitates less time being spent on developing the deep-rooted relationships for reaching the marriage stage.  Argued in this way, the idea of working in the same job, or at least in the same town with relatively unchanging social circle, does bare fruit.  The possibilities of enlarging the social circle, through the existing one, creates huge degrees of possibilities for making this whole marriage business work out.  Speaking of such, the author cannot help but be full of envy.

Yet, to marry and to have kids are deliberate acts of creating limitations to personal choice.  For the married person to change jobs, to move to a new place, or to even take a vacation or changing certain habits, there need to be consultations, discussions, and mutual agreements.  For the messy ones, living together with a significant other entail a sense of restriction and hassle.  And for the picky ones with the really specific living needs, to find out that the new roommate (indeed, bed-mate) has irreconcilable differences in how to go out daily lives would be pure irritation that they somehow need to not bring to the visual surface.

The author himself, despite having aged quite a bit, has not really moved away from the idealistic view toward romance from years ago.  As such, he fears that he cannot reconcile these seemingly minor but ultimately deal-breaking differences with any potential partner, no matter how beautiful or kind or successful the person may be.  That partially explain his shock, awe, and envy of his Facebook friends getting married.  He feels that they, at similar age as the author himself, cannot possibly be mature enough and ready enough to take on the task of thinking for more than one person.  The author certainly cannot.

Hence comes the author's simultaneous anxiety about hearing and seeing others getting married.  Is he the only one who is not ready for this, and everyone else is just much more emotionally mature at the same age?  Or are others too simple-minded and just went for it without fully considering the consequences and potential bad endings of their romantic ventures?  The worry is for everyone.  Is everybody ready at age twenty-something, to abandon certain cherished personal freedoms and try to make lifelong partnership work with one and only one person?  The author is not at all confident.

He just want time to stop a bit right now, to give a moment for all his acquaintances, who are about to get married or got married and about to have a baby, to think about what is going to happen after the decision is finalized.   It cannot be done just because one does not want to be left behind of others.  It cannot be done at a moment of passion.  And it certainly cannot be done because one needs more excitement in life or need to follow some ridiculous social norm.  It requires self-reflections, soul-searching, and extensive planning.  Just stop, think, and only give the go signal when one is 300% sure...

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