Dream Job

When I was five, I had plenty of dreams. As an immigrant inspired by the fully-assimilated American kids on the Disney Channel (who, along with my PBS friends, taught me English), I pictured myself as having the perfect American name: Richard. At that same wee age, I couldn’t wait to go to college. I remember distinctly tattooing “12” into my brain because I had only 12 grades left after kindergarten. Awed by my mom’s cool tiger sweatshirt (a bootleg from the swap meet), I even focused on a particular school: Princeton. After college, I would get married. I thought to myself that my cousin Marilyn might make a good wife; we always had fun while we were at her house. Together, we would have two kids and live in a two-story house, from which I would drive off daily to my dream job as the local TV weatherman…

Well lo and behold: things have changed. When I was five, I didn’t know that my desired name-change would result in a nickname of “Dick”—a tell-tale sign of homosexuality that I missed at the time. I visited Princeton ten years later and was so turned off by the pretentious campus tour guide that I refused to even apply. Incest was a word that only older people knew; marriage was a word that I only thought I knew. And when I was five, I didn’t know that being a weatherman would be just one of my careers. I’d have to make a career out of finding a mate, too. I never knew—and I’m still discovering—that growing up means not only finding a job that I love, but also making a job of finding love.

If you really wanted it to be, dating could be a full-time job. It demands the same leadership skills that other occupations entail: purposeful and strategic thinking, knowledge of the business’ rules and politics, and many over-time hours consuming much effort and energy. In the end, instead of being paid with a salary, you’d get paid in dividends of theoretical happiness.

Unfortunately, most of us aren’t financially-blessed enough to devote our full-time occupational life to the love hunt. After a long day at work, some people have the luxury of not having anything to do; sure, there a dinner dates with friends, errands to run, and favorite TV shows to catch, but other options for post-work activities include frequenting bars, clubs, churches, and other organized events to make a part-time job out of finding The One.

Others of us are, well, married to our jobs. If you work long or unpredictable hours or have an occupation that involves bringing work home, it’s easy to become a workaholic. I’ve been on this path of social devastation since high school. When I was in the eleventh grade, I slept about four hours a night juggling high school class projects with papers for requisite college classes I wanted to complete before actual college; I had agendas to create and copy for our high school’s biggest community service organization and materials I had to gather and create for class spirit rallies. I was a busy fellow, and that’s probably why I didn’t have a single dating experience until I went to college.

What eventually alleviated some of that crushing of social potential was a move to a residential college in Virginia where I learned to re-understand the role of work in my life: it was no longer a mode of academic and career-related productivity; it also provided a means to meet new people. The larger student population meant that the more I got involved with various organizations and classes, the more people I befriended, and the more people I could consider as dating potential. Though my primary drive in college was to deliver the highest level of work possible, I didn’t mind being temporarily distracted by side trips to those also interested in the work that interested me.

That said, though, work has always been an obstacle. The first guy I casually dated ended our blooming relationship after a month to concentrate on his thesis. When I took a June through August internship in Sacramento, my summer fling abruptly ended when I had to return to the hustle and bustle of collegiate life. The next summer, when I returned to Sacramento, my hours to date another man were severely limited by my responsibilities at work: I had about three or fours in the evening, four days a week, to find a compromise between our schedules; over the course of two months, we saw each other just a handful of times. Even in my senior year—at the height of my enjoyment of college achievement and friendships—my own involvement in leadership positions and intense research led to an absolutely barren year with regard to romance.

After working my ass off for those eight years of my life, you’d think I’d cut myself some slack in the work world. Not so: I’ve earned the privilege of being able to work even harder. I work about six days a week, sometimes up to 19 hours a day. I give myself sometimes a day or a day and a half each week to relax, time that I like to spend with the friends I know won’t be as fleeting as the next interesting guy I meet might be. The time to meet others: lacking. I’ve spent time in this blog blaming lots of things for my lack of luck with love; maybe I should really be blaming my choices.

When I was five, I had plenty of dreams. I knew that I had to work hard to achieve them—or at least to evaluate their actual worth and merit. Since then, I’ve accomplished a lot: I’ve received a college education I’m proud of, I have a job that I positively know is worthwhile, and yes, I’m even happy with my name. I foresee further success in my future; it is not out of reach for me to have kids and a two-story house. I’ve worked hard to get where I am, and I continue to work hard to get where I’m going. What’s missing from making my childhood dreams come true is that which I haven’t yet prioritized as work that needs to get done: the job of finding someone who helps me forget that I have work to do. If I can’t solve that problem strategically, then maybe I’m not as much of a goal-oriented organizational success as I think I am.

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