The asymmetrical life partner

It is often difficult for me to explain to people what I’m looking for in a partner. I suppose that is why I rarely talk to people about it.

“I’m looking for someone who doesn’t necessarily have career aspirations,” I’ll often stay to a friend.

“So, you’re looking for a house wife.” They respond.

Quite the contrary. I don’t want a Stepford wife, but I also don’t want a Stepford employee. They are both the same to me. I don’t like it when people purely define success based on their career.

They have to be passionate about something though. I would argue there are a lot of people who are passionate about something that isn’t related to a job or career, yet there is a societal pressure (on both men and women) to have some career aspiration.

Why force yourself to do something that doesn’t make you happy? Take money out of the equation for a moment and ponder the thought.

Of you don’t want to have a job and focus on your home decor craft, then do that instead of slaving away at a soul-crushing job. If your dream is to have an oyster farm then stop emailing and start shucking!

I want someone who is passionate about their life, man. They aspire to be the best pet owner, concert goer, or life lover…just as much or as hard as people do with their jobs or careers.

What I look for is someone who is really interested in partnering up to build an ideal life. Equality is important, but it can also be asymmetrical. Why do people feel everything needs to be split 50/50? If someone is really good at one thing, why not let them do it 100% and the other person focuses on their 100%.

I am horrible at taking care of a place. This includes cleaning, but a bunch of other things. I would like to come home to a place that feels cozy. I haven’t felt that way since I left my parents home and went to college. Every place I have lived feels like a temporary solution. I’d like to find someone who can make me feel at home.

I’m good at other things though, like doing the dishes. I absolutely love washing the dishes. I’m good at working and making money as a result of it. However, the most important part is I absolutely love what I do. It is a passion.

I guess what I wonder is why people have to succumb to societal pressures of having some sort of career success. If it happens to be what both people want, then more power to them. However, I am seeking something else…someone who is passionate at working on life.

Let’s build a life, not just a career path.

Focusing on Better

I always hear people say “I wish there was more time in a day” in order to get things done. For me, I am trying to take a different approach: “I wish I would have made better use of my time.” Anyone who says they are going 100% is lying, because that’s not physically possible.

I’m going to focus on working better, reading with more care so I don’t have to re-read, nap better in order to be more productive, and spend just the perfect amount of time with friends.

Finding a Personal Assistant

I’ve been looking for a personal assistant for a while, and I often get the same reaction. “Why don’t you just do it yourself and save the money?” The reason is it actually does not save me money because right now my time is more valuable and I need to make the best use of it as possible. Also, I think some people see having an assistant as a status symbol, but that’s not what my intention is. There are two simple reasons why I would want an assistant.

First, my personal life is a mess. I have found a passion for my work and really enjoy spending a lot of time doing it. However, it means that I don’t get personal stuff done, like cleaning, running errands, planning, etc. It took me three months to finally buy a chair in my apartment, and I have yet to get furniture in my Seattle apartment. I just don’t have the time to go shopping after work while focusing on my craft.

Second, and most importantly, it is about paying it forward. My mother and father were assistants to a local doctor when they first immigrated here to the United States. After many years of loyal service, the couple actually bought my parents their first house, paid for the first quarter of my college (as well as my brothers) and ultimately included our entire family in their will.

I would like to do the same for someone else. People keep telling me to look on Craigslist or online services like TaskRabbit, but it is really important for me to build this relationship with one person and to help them out.

A heart-felt conversation with Mom

I always have great conversations with my mother, but yesterday’s was particularly great. We were discussing my future and what I wanted to do.

I told her that my dream is to continue to live in a few different cities and live there, not just visit. My goal is to continue living in New York City and Seattle, while adding San Francisco and perhaps London or Paris on the list. I never want to stop traveling and continue to explore new places while re-visiting old ones to re-explore and experience them in different ways. This life will certainly include a lot of design, reading, and cats.

Finally, I hope to find that special person that I can spend my life with. It doesn’t have to be a wife but a life partner who will continue to challenge and inspire me; someone who can help me up when I feel defeated. With all this, there is a big chance that I do not want to have kids.

My mom quietly listens, and says, “You know it will be really hard to find that person, right?”

To find someone who is willing to just pick up her life at a moment’s notice, or to be able to live in multiple cities. That probably means someone with a job that allows that flexibility or no job at all. This will be a tough life because it means being physically far from family a lot.

I quietly respond to her, “I know, Mom…I know.”

The terrifying thing is I don’t think I could live my life any other way, but that means I may have to live it alone. It is nice to know that my mom is supportive of me listening to my heart.

Treat Life Like a Video Game

I recently had a conversation with my friend Leslie about a professional decision that had to be made. One thing in question was that I would have to live in two cities. Leslie is a talented art director from Toronto, and she also lives in New York City part time. I asked her to share her experiences. She said she loves it because there is “always has a deadline”, whether it is personal or professional. She constantly has a friend to see, a project to finish, or a plane to catch. It is exhilarating to her to always have something to accomplish like this. She then gave me some wonderful advice:

“Treat life like a video game.”

I initially was a bit confused about what she meant, but after pondering about it more, that saying made total sense. In a book or movie (I like books and movies, so this isn’t to bring them down), you are being told the narrative in a very linear fashion and the result is already determined for you. You are consuming vs. interacting. In a video game, you have to make decisions and figure out ways to achieve your goals in the game.

As an avid video game player, I understood it. Surely Leslie didn’t mean treat life like Call of Duty or a third person shooter, but any game with an open world environment.

Definition of an open world game on Wikipedia:

“An open world is a type of video game level design where a player can roam freely through a virtual world and is given considerable freedom in choosing how or when to approach objectives. The term “free roam” is also used, as is “sandbox” and “free-roaming”.

Some of my favorite open world games: Far Cry, Fallout 3, Saints Row, Grand Theft Auto, Wing Commander: Privateer, and Borderlands. Note that Skyrim isn’t on there because I have not played it yet. (I know, I know)

Here are some aspects of video games (particularly open world games) that translate well into life:

Persistent Effort After Failure

I don’t think there is anything I fail more constantly in and continue to try to achieve a goal than in a video game. If you play games, you have been through that part of the game where you are stuck and fail 100 times. Yet, for some reason, you keep trying, even sometimes almost peeing your pants because you won’t go run to the bathroom until you beat this part.

(Number of times I’ve actually peed my pants while playing video games: zero)

Why is this? It is because a challenge has been set and it is something you have to do in order to beat the game. In contrast, people often seem to give up on dating or looking for a new job after a few failures, or sometimes, one. Why don’t we put that same effort in life that we do in video games? We should.

The way we learn how to beat that aspect of the game is to remember what we did before that did not work and adjust accordingly. That, or we just use sheer will to overcome it.

Level Up

In a lot of open world games, your character (which you often customize) starts with a limited skill set. After achieving a set amount of goals and gaining experience points (XP), a player will be able to level up their character, usually with improvements on certain skills, unlocking new skills, or the ability to access more areas on the map.

This is life. You don’t start playing Diablo and go straight to the boss when you’re a Level 1 Warrior. You have to gain the skills and prove your ability to accomplish such a thing before. Take this to the workplace. You’re a junior designer and have the goal of being a creative director someday. What you have to do is figure out what skills you’ll need to level up in and how to go about getting those experience points.

Let me take a moment to remember how traumatized I was from that Speeder Bike level from Battle Toads.

Interact And Get Invested With Characters

I often feel I am more invested in video game characters than in a movie. For me, it’s the direct experience the character (you) and others around him or her. I can’t tell you how many times it has made me truly sad when a character dies in a game. Hopefully without giving anything away, Metal Gear Solid is a prime example of that.

In a lot of open world video games, there are characters that you interact with that help you or stop you from beating the game. You quickly find out who is a positive experience for you and negative experience for you.

Yet, in real life, we often hear people complain about having toxic people in their life. In a video game, these people would appear as a red dot on the map and you are told to avoid them.

Explore The Open World

When I moved to New York City two years ago, I did not know the area at all. However, I actually recalled certain general areas because of playing Grand Theft Auto, which takes place in the fictional version of New York—Liberty City.

Remember that exploring can lead to achievement points or new characters in the game.

In fact, that is how I met Leslie. She was visiting a friend at the co-working space I was at and we started talking and exchanged contact information. We have kept in touch since. I would never have guessed she would inspire me to make a significant decision in my life a year later upon meeting. I walked up to her and pushed the X button to interact.

Conclusion

The key to life is participation. You can engage and interact with it as much or as little as you want. Treat life like a video game. You can either treat it like a movie where someone is telling the story for you or you can grab that controller that’s called Life and start playing! Remember, there is no reset button though so live life like it is Nightmare Mode on Diablo.

P.S. Don’t cheat.

P.P.S. I wish money worked the same way in video games as it did in real life.

A Tale of Two Phones

I have a second phone (with a different number via pay-as-you-go sim card) that is my weekend phone. It only has personal email and apps that empower me to create (such as Tumblr) vs. consumption…basically anything with a feed.

In addition, I use two email desktop clients: Sparrow, which includes all email and includes work, then Airmail, which I only have personal email added to encourage me to write to friends. For me, I need that sort of separation to keep me sane moderately disconnected.

I’ve found this the best way for me to separate work from rest.

We live in a world where young men and women are so comfortable online that they are completely detached from the real world. You have people who will flirt and say things they would never say in real life. Hell, they will even send naked photos of themselves. But when it comes to talking to a human being they are the most awkward people ever. This is very dangerous when people don’t know how to interact with others.

My generation is the last to know what it is to grow up without the Internet. We knew analog and grew up with digital. I hope those my age don’t forget the value of being able to talk to a stranger in real life, calling someone on the phone to order a pizza, or ask someone out without online dating.