I went to happy hour today with an ex-partner from KPMG. I looked up to her way back then and I look up to her today. She's a strong, vibrant, successful, and amazing woman. I asked her about her career, her life choices, her relationships... I probed She probed back. 4.5 hours later, we parted ways and I can't help but want to share with you the conversations we had. I'm home, slightly buzzed from my cocktails of dirty martini's (with Chopin vodka, of course) and extra olives, and also, I'm thinking about the movie, "Up in the Air"...
Natalie Keener: I thought I'd be engaged by now. I thought by 23, I'd be married, maybe have a kid, corner office by day, entertaining at night. I was supposed to be driving a Grand Cherokee by now.
Alex Goran: Well, life can underwhelm you that way.
Natalie Keener: Where did you think you'd be by err...?
Alex Goran: It doesn't work that way. At a certain point, you stop with the dead lines. It can be a little counter productive.
Natalie Keener: I don't want to say anything that is anti feminist. I really appreciate everything that your generation did for me.
Alex Goran: It was our pleasure.
Natalie Keener: Sometimes it feels like, no matter how much success I have, it's not gonna matter until I find the right guy. I could have made it work, he really fit the bill, you know. White collar, 6'1, college grad, loves dogs, likes funny movies, brown hair, kind eyes, works in finance but is outdoorsy. I always imagined he'd have a single syllable name like Matt or John or Dave. In a perfect world, he drives a 4 runner and the only thing he loves more than me is his golden lab. And a nice smile. What about you?
Alex Goran: You know, honestly by the time you're 34, all the physical requirements just go out the window. You secretly pray that he'll be taller than you, not an asshole would be nice just someone who enjoys my company, comes from a good family. You don't think about that when you're younger. Someone who wants kids, likes kids. Healthy enough to play with his kids. Please let him earn more money than I do, you might not understand that now but believe me, you will one day otherwise that's a recipe for disaster. And hopefully, some hair on his head. I mean, that's not even a deal breaker these days. A nice smile. Yea, a nice smile just might do it.
Natalie Keener: Wow. That was depressing.
This is the exact scene that sits in my head after our conversation. Like Natalie, in my early 20s, I thought, I hope the man I end up with in forever ever after is tall, 5'10 at least, has a good job - earns way more than me, come from a good family, loves the symphony and opera, loves fine dining and fois gras, smells really good and maybe has brown hair, drives a cool car that purrs with the winds, dresses cool with bright colors here and there with poetic grays and blacks, ... is well read, loves dogs, is super handy,... sweeps me off my feet with gifts, take me on romantic trips and to-die-for meals at five-star restaurants. And recently, I've humbly realized, no, that guy, will never make me happy. Early 30s, I tried it, too. Even bragged about it. I've told you before, I thought since I'm ambitious, I needed a like-minded ~super~ ambitious guy - more ambitious than I. Older. CEO-type. Cultured. Well-dressed and pedigreed. Wrong. Fail. Complete utter failure. No. Not at all. The "right" partner for a person has nothing to do with age, job title, resume, or pedigree. It doesn't. It has to do with heart, character, integrity, values, and respect. Laughter. Fun. The right partner in life deserves more attention than any piece of paper. For me, he'll challenge me, make me feel like I'm the world to him, listen to my thoughts, make me feel secure, surprise me with adoring gifts, say thoughtful words to me, humor my weird habits and needs, think I'm beautiful even if I haven't put on my makeup, ... I'll adore him, his weird craziness, odd habits, his intellectual smartness, his desire to protect me, ... and if I'm lucky, he'll be taller than me. We'll have tons and tons of inside jokes, and secret "things" we do for each other. Plentiful snuggles, kisses, hugs and fun.
Isn't that weird? Strange? With all that our parents and society emphasize in terms of getting the right education, the degrees, the colleges, ... all this emphasis on technical knowledge - but the things that'll ultimately make a person happiest like living life to its fullest, character, self reflection, values, finding the right love partner, ... these things are not encouraged in our educational pursuits. ... But shouldn't they be? Really, shouldn't they be? Is life really about the rat race? No, I don't think so....