Call to Action
So….what do we do?
There’s no way to train for this one; there’s no application to fill out; there’s nowhere to go that’s going to fix this problem. So we have to change something about ourselves. And what is that something? San Francisco needs to rediscover passion.
In its politically correct, let’s-find-a-solution-to-every-problem way of going about things, San Francisco has managed to wring out the feeling and wit and occasional irrationality that make life interesting. We’ve settled for a life that’s perfectly pleasant: on a 100-point scale, we live at a constant 80%; we need to dare to risk a few really tough self-inflicted life experiences in order to find those that blow through that 80%, show how rich life can be, and make us the kind of people who are more than the sum of our achievements.
We’ve all got work to do.
Geeks: Stop thinking in code. Life decisions aren’t binary, and the most-efficient-route, while it may make a beautiful program, makes a boring life. Live in the gray a little, practice having conversations that aren’t black-and-white, and learn to enjoy unexpected outcomes.
Marrieds and Gays: Keep being perfect, you lucky bastards.
Alpha Males: Consider – really consider – whether the business idea you’re working on is what you most deeply care about, or if the thrill of “making it” is what’s driving you. And if it’s the latter, look at the ageing playboys and think whether that’s really the track you want to be on. And don’t say you can’t stop now. We’re in the most privileged city in the most privileged nation in the world. No one’s trapped.
Ageing Playboys: Find someone who challenges you: you’re too smart to be a cliché. And if you really want that younger woman, at least be honest about your reasons.
SROTS: As a friend very kindly put it, there is nothing sexy about a corporate fleece (no, not even the Arc Teryx ones, you spoiled Private Equity kids, you). And there is nothing fun about dating someone who cares for you because you check-all-the-boxes. So we need to do three things collectively:
- Drop the obsession with resume brands. Learn to enjoy that which probably-won’t-lead-anywhere, stop collecting points and start embracing experiences (pleasant and not). This means traveling to foreign countries for reasons other than getting your passport stamped and spending time doing things that you want to do, not things you want to say you did. Why? Because you’ll find what you actually care about, instead of wasting your life caring about the things someone said you should.
- Agree to stop judging others based on the points they’ve collected. If there’s any hope for us, we have to stop this rat race of obsessing over whether or not someone meets our standards.
- Stop listening to our parents’ advice on this one. Older, married women love to tell me that passion in a marriage dies and, when selecting a spouse, one ought to focus on the partnership, not the “indescribable attraction.” It’s not that I don’t buy this as a legitimate fact, but I think it’s misapplied. Namely: the women who insist on this met their spouses in their late teens and early twenties. It’s not that I think I’m smarter that they are now, but I think my passion, at 27, is better informed than theirs was at 21. I get that the passion I felt for Brad-from-Sigma-Chi sophomore year wouldn’t have sustained the different paths we’ve taken; but I’ve watched my passion since evolve to applications that are only, really, to guys who also pass the do-we-have-the-same-goals-and-values test. And, given there’s no one whose path is ever going to align perfectly with my own, I absolutely believe it’s that you-make-me-happy-for-no-reason affection which makes working through the differences worth it.
In other words, we have to start acting a bit more on our feelings and a bit less on our life plans. Because we’re not even thirty: what do we really know about what life has to offer? And how will we find out if we don’t let ourselves experience something other than what’s pre-defined? We have to open ourselves to really-messing-up, to really-getting-hurt, to maybe even wasting-a-little-time. And whether that’s in love or in something else, I think taking that risk is the one thing that can save us from waking up in ten years and wondering what it was all for. If nothing else, it’ll give us a unique box to check, and make San Francisco a little more interesting.