Feb 8, 2015

Now What?

This is massively off-topic, so if you're looking for game design content, ctrl-w now.

Tonight I watched my best friend get married. I've been to four weddings now, and I have had the same experience at each. Surrounded by a slew of people I don't know, I find a nice corner to hide away. If I manage to spot one or two people I do know, I try to spend time with them without being clingy. At some point in the night, I congratulate the couple in the middle of a couple hundred other people doing so. Being physically awkward, I watch people dance with disinterest. Despite being happy on an intellectual level for my friend(s)/family on their day, I always feel emotionally detached from the proceedings. Weddings just aren't a thing that excites me, despite genuinely wishing the participants well.

Tonight was different. I got caught up in the emotion of it all. I cried a little, probably damaging my circuits in the process. On the long drive back to my hotel (christ almighty Texas likes to put everything far away from everything else), I thought about why this time was different.

I met my friend when we both started at Citigroup in August of 2007. That was a tough couple of years. Fresh out of college, we landed in the maelstrom of financial crisis. We had to say goodbye to another colleague or two every month as the latest round of layoffs came down the pike. We were aware that any one of us could be the next to go. We had a program director who was actively sabotaging us for political purposes.

It was a struggle to get our careers back on track. How can you advance when downsizing is the order of the day? How can you make a lateral shift to a less dysfunctional organization when no one is hiring? I was proud of being able to escape finance on my own terms. I was proud of having built a life for myself since then. And I was proud of having some goals to shoot for.

The thing is, my friend has faced all of these same things and more. Being an immigrant, my friend has always had the threat of being deported hanging over her head. The layoff fairy decides to visit your department? Goodbye, America. Lawyers screw up your extension paperwork? Goodbye, America. Manager doesn't feel like pending the budget to file for your permanent residency? Goodbye, America, and the life you've built over almost a decade.

I can't imagine how I would have dealt with that complicating factor on top of all the other stress we've been through over the years. I like to think of myself as someone who can roll with the punches and deal with setbacks in a calm, logical fashion. But my friend has both overcome more and then accomplished more. And she's never done. She is always driven to achieve more and do good for others.

It's a humbling feeling to realize that your best friend is better than you could ever hope to be. But it's a wonderful feeling to be able to cheer her on and be there when she needs support. And it's an exciting feeling to be inspired by her to always keep moving forward to the next goal.

So that brings me to now. My current goals have all ended in one way or another. In the win column, I have a secure job and have advanced in the past few years. I have had my first and second game published. In the loss column, I was rejected from business school. A new project is stalled. I'm 33 years old. Yuck.

I'm treading water. I need a new goal. Maybe it's time to jump back in the job market after 5 years? Maybe I should start dating with an eye towards starting a family? Maybe I should pack it all up and move to another country to start fresh?

It's late. I'm tired. I don't know what my new goal is going to be. But I've got a long plane ride tomorrow. And if that's not enough, I know who I can talk to for advice.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this, Michael. I can't exactly pinpoint how I relate to this (other than experiencing the same thing at friends' weddings and being around the same age), but I really connected with your words, and I'm glad you wrote this "massively off-topic" entry.