Another edition of my dating saga usually (if I remember) featured in the Brunch Media Newsletter
In soccer (and many other sports), there is a common part of the match called momentum. When forwards sense it, they will push upwards towards the ’18 & press the defense until the gap is there. One defensive tackle leading to a winger on the counter-offensive and just like that, the momentum is gone.
When it comes to dating in our dangerously-plugged-in world, the same philosophy applies. Early on in the “seeing someone” stages, any subtle jab off of your game is a risk. Better yet, any Friday or Saturday night without this potential SO is a missed opportunity for the ages. Even worse than that, the risk of a week without seeing the other person must be mitigated with a rigorous Snapchat, texting, and Bitmoji sending protocol).
Last weekend, “she” spontaneously booked a flight to Miami crushed any hope I had for the Saturday sunset Park N’ Chillen affair (c’mon, we all plan the next date way too early in advance). I was able to get over it with the anticipation that we would have a two nights to canoodle before I took off for a respective trip of my own: to New York City.
In typical neurotic Millennial form, I confused the dates, incorrectly used my calendar and the two night interlude I thought we would have evaporated right before our sunglasses emoji eyes.
At light of this horrific news, I shot the text “Bad news, but we won’t be able to hang until Saturday.” Within five minutes of eternity, a surprisingly same-page response followed: “ugh, that is bad news” followed by SEVERAL melancholy emojis (you know which ones). The challenge was in: we were going to do our best to keep in touch over the next week.
Keep in touch we did and below are highlights (or average-lights) of how comms over the week apart. Given the already overcomplicated mess of texting someone during the early romantic stages, it was clear this would be a challenge unlike any other.
Read for yourself:
Tuesday: Snapchat from me— “mish you” (selfie picture by the kitchen counter, not sure what influenced this location tbh).
Wednesday: Text from her— “How’s NY?” (direct, informed — I approved)
Thursday: Snapchat from me: “How fresh is this rug?” (it’s a Turkish thing)
Friday: Text from me: “OMG, these bars are amazing.” (semi-tipsy, teeing off potential for raunchier drunk texts)
Saturday: Text from her: “How is the parents new house?” (again, there is a certain freshness in her approach — no “hey” barely a “yo” — straight to the Q of the hour).
Saturday: Text from her: “When is your birthday?” (it’s in December, so yes, this was a head scratcher admittedly leading to a 27 minute interlude in my response).
Those are some snippets. Right now, you must be thinking how ridiculously basic this “game” we played was, but nay, without an Instagram game (she avoids the IG life) you must conform to the Snap/Text combo.
At the end of the week-away, the numbers were in: 0 phone calls, 15–20 snaps, and an average of 5.6 texts exchanged per day — a solid rate considering neither of us (yes, I know) are mathemiticians (yes, I’ve toned this down). Rather than concern myself with the phone call / FaceTime metric, I concluded: the spark was still there and I couldn’t wait to see her again.
Within an hour of landing back in San Francisco, I shot the CTA:
“Whatchu doinnn!? Thoughts on vino and park?”
Well-timed, emoji-less, and surely leading to a hangout…on my terms. Turned out, her agenda overruled mine on this breezy weekend afternoon in the city I still love (and hate). In the most SF follow up text you could possibly receive, she invited me to Dolores Park. After a quick Biore cleanser rinse (#sponsored), a perfectly-timed Uber with my roommate, the rest of Saturday was history…
…by rest, I mean, meeting multiple friends of hers, hitting up a Tapas Happy Hour deal, watching “Me Earl & The Dying Girl” for the second time that day, slumbering of parties, morning farmer’s market frolicking, Alamo Square chilling, and transcendentally, an outdoor meditation with Calm (#sponsored). My kind of history…
(Oh right, yep, still funemployed — the neurotic Millennial card is a dope brand, but honestly, it is a brutally intoxicating, job-searching seemingly endless trial to get my shit together. Stay tuned.)
So where were we? Ah, right,I just had the pleasure of getting called by a different man’s name in *her apartment. Naturally, I followed this up with the only course of action I know: inviting her to an EDM concert with my friends.
Of course, leading up to this EDM concert (this time, Two Friends) remained a major elephant in the room: the “e” word. Rather than ignore this Lucy, I was impressed: she addressed it directly with a profuse apology, immediate drop of the sunglasses emoji, and insistence she take me out to dinner before the concert for a “fresh start.” After speaking with my local relationship consulting firm, The Roommate Group, the right course of action became clear: stop overthinking and go to dinner with her.
Dinner, naturally chosen at the FINEST Turkish restaurant in San Francisco (important note: if you do find yourself at a Turkish restaurant, don’t accidentally say “Bebek” in front of your date directly to the waitress), was quite the riveting adventure filled with an extremely important motif uncommon to my previous dating escapades: maturity. That’s right; we each simultaneously concluded the following: we had jumped into this “mini-ship” without the slightest inquiry of who the figure across the table actually was. Let’s take 1/3 of a step back, slow the roll, and strategically (obviously) learn about each other — an often overlooked tactic in the early stages of “seeing” someone. Honestly, I barely even knew what she did for a living (quick digression: I personally think it’s a great sign if you can make it to date ##3 without addressing theobvious first date questions like “where do you live?” or “what do you do?” — it means you can schmooze about practically anything, even the misplaced Buddha monk in the Turkish restaurant).
Quite the convo, amiright? We escalated early on, then decided to cool the jets, and here we were enjoying a riveting conversation about Hummus, mispronounced Turkish words, and most importantly, our aspirations, hopes & dreams for making it in this world (please use a Ryan Gosling or Emma Stone voice when you read that last line). After dinner ended (she PAIIIIIIID!!!!!!), two options presented themselves: get to the pregame early to hang with the bro-squad or spontaneously, hit up an old pastime: the hookah lounge. Hesitant at first, I conceded to the latter option and the rest was history.
Nonchalantly teleported into the heart of Tel Aviv, this Hookah lounge felt like a time machine, a vacation within a vacation destination, an oasis (literally) with the Mojave, and a caffeine infused “halftime” within an otherwise important evening. It was the move…
After daaaaa hookah, I easily could have called it a night — headed to ideally my place for the “home field advantage,” catch up on the ‘Flix, and potentially spark up the California medicine we all know & love. BUT. There was a DJ to attend, an event I was promised by “Central Command” (my roommate & chief social officer) would be one for the #yuppie ages. Uber diverted to the pregame: it was on.
Within 10 minutes of entry into the pregame filled with most of my inner Squandron, a homie came up to me and validated the decision to invite the chica out: “bro, she’s cool, man” (followed by either a “dude” or a “dawg” — this important observation is a blur). It was total vindication hearing this, and something quite honestly polar opposite from any remark friends of mine made about ye’ old ex. The thought crossed my mind, followed by a smile, fist-pumping to Galantis, and the icing on the cake, a mid-pregame “out-in-the-open” makeout session. Could this get any better? It did.
We pulled up to the club like ay-bay-bay, ay-bay-bay only to find a line reiminicent of Scorekeeper’s Bar & Grill on a game day weekend. After three unsuccessful attempts to cut and/or bribe the bouncer, we were stuck. Naturally, the only way to make it through the line was to pretend we were inside — vibes, dancing, flirting, a couple shoulder rubs — the like of which had never been seen before in marginally passive San Francisco.
Finally, we were inside. Finally, we could dance circa 2004 at my Bar Mitzvah. Finally, we were connecting…for real for real.
______ went down during at the club.
(you can fill in the blanks)
We left the RAGER on the earlier side mostly due to the inexcusable 120 degree weather inside the club (and multiple creepy dudes hitting on our other female friends — ah, the SF ratio).
The rest of the night I’m sure you can relate to — some diddling, some dabbling, some Lemongrass incense, soy candles, a hot shower, chocolate cherries, and sleep. Oh, beautiful, pensive, “does this mean we’re seeing each other, dating, or hooking up” sleep.
To Be Continued…
(Oh yeah, I’m going on one month of funemployment. The days are getting longer, the Trader Joe’s midday runs are becoming stale, and the bank account continues to thin. Is instability my stability? Chaos my serenity? Despite my often contrarian persona, the verdict is in: too much instability is extremely stressful. Do not try this at home.)
OMG. Well, this was an eventful week in my so-called “romantic situation.”
The week started off well as far as our social media exchanges go. It began with the Glasses emoji on a Monday, 2–3 snaps on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, the rare, yet critical, Twitter DM (actually not kidding). We were doing our best to keep in touch without seeing each other building up to my conceived plan: taking her out to a DJ with my squad.
Then on Wednesday night, there was a sudden burst of energy in my disposition: I was ready to break the rules and do it. What was I about to do? The spontaneous plan to “hang out” — a huge turning point once you begin seeing someone. Now, this was no “hey u up?,” rather, an important ask via Snapchat at 7pm with the caption “Let’s play tonight.” What exactly did I mean by play, you ask? Well, honestly, I was down to clown, go out, stay in, FaceTime — there were, frankly, a wide array of options at our fingertips.
Lo and behold, a response: “Yas, let’s do something. Dancing?”
Oh, it’s on.
A shower, three shirt changes, and one Galantis song later, the Uber was called and I was on my way (across town) to her pad. Entering her room, the music (this time, French jazz) was blasting, the shots were pouring, and we had a 1:1 pregame going on.
As certain actions progressed, we were about to head to the bar when the unthinkable occurred…I was inadvertently called a different man’s name (won’t be revealed for privacy purposes).
“Huh?” I immediately responded.
HER: “Oh, nevermind. I shouldn’t have said that.”
Me: “Um, okay?”
HER: “Well, we’re not exclusive right?”
Heart dropped. Music bumped. Massively awkward silence permeated the room.
Me: “I mean, no. We’re not.”
Me (silently): Not yet.
Me (again): “Who is <Insert Name You Really Never Want To Hear Again>? An Ex or something?”
Her: “Not really.”
Then, it became clear, she was informing me, accidentally, of the fact that there is another man in the recent picture. Not sure how big this picture is, whether it’s a Monet, a Renoire, or even a Van Gogh, but it was clear, this was no Dadaism.
Granted, seeing someone else at an early juncture is perfectly legal. She can, for all intensive purposes, see other people. It’s only been a month. Where she erred, IMO, is crossing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy of an early romantic adventure.
Do your thing. I’ll do mine. We’ll do ours. But let’s separate church and state. Capeesh?
Besides the confusion on when she actually saw <Insert Name You Really Never Want To Hear Again> throughout the week given our frequent visits AND comms, I was certainly taken off guard.
I liked her, better yet, I do like her. But certainly, this was by no means an ideal situation on my end.
Now, what was I to do in response? Steep in melancholy? Move on? Download ye old apps?
Nah, I decided to go in a different direction, what most of my friends decided was probably not the best idea…
Invite her out with all of my best friends to said DJ from above.
Always featured in the exclusive Brunch Media Newsletter
Most startup founders will keep you updated with their often interesting, yet mostly generic, journey of building their business. It’s cool, sure, but it’s been done. Many times. Here with BM, I’m taking a different approach. In this section of our newsletter, I’ll keep you updated on the table topic of a generation: my dating situation (with general dabs of life neuroticism).
With that said….I think I’m kind of, potentially, possibly seeing someone and shall I say, she is dopppppe. Not only do we share the same love for hot yoga, cheesy French romance novels, and #brunch, but we’re vibing, people! It’s been three-ish weeks, close to five dates (okay, she was out of town for a week, cut me a break), and at least 12 different emojis (highlighted by my inaugural use of 🏄).
Now, these are all fine and dandy (and yes, our Netflix movie deliberation needs some work), but what’s most exciting to me is the ambiguity. For those who know me, I barely know what’s happening in an hour, let alone, the future of seeing someone. So as we plan out future salsa dancing, Napa trips, and the occasional ethnic cuisine, I’m trying not to stress, to overthink, to go batshit crazy over what the proper step in the process should be.
For the first time (uh-oh), I want to avoid games and let, simply, this quite timely, interesting, full-of-fear-full-of-excitement romantic situation develop.
That’s right, no more games: if I get a text and just so happen to be by my phone, I’m going to boldly answer immediately. If I want to actually get the individual butter croissant without ham instead of sharing the ham croissant, I may actually just do it. And of course, if I want to take out my contacts without a mirror or solution (“this is me at my most vulnerable” — authentic quote), then I will follow Phil Knight’s advice in Shoe Dog to just do it.
Get your popcorn ready. Stay tuned for more.
(oh yeah, and I’m semi-funemployed with a diminishing bank account trying to build a startup and find a J-O-B— so, yes, it’s #yolo mode).
I’ll be posting more updates on my newfound journey to find romance, or sex, or companionship, maybe even a new job? Okay, no clue what I’m actually looking for, but I’ll keep you updated along the way.
Alright, fam, it’s been a minute. Or two, or three, or seven minutes in heaven?! Seriously though, as any neurotic ADD 25-year old, I’ve been all over the map lately. Mostly positive, with the exception of undocumented dating fails, career tripping, and other misadventures along the way.
When I first started on this blogging journey, I was legitimately looking for love — fed up with the countless first dates that went nowhere aside from the occasional second-base & equally fed up with the pregames that often led to a first date that went nowhere. I was so fed up, in fact, I decided to change up my process — namely, broadcasting my dates with a hip new social media tool.
After that traumatic experience, I met someone (yippee!) who for all intensive purposes led to more positives than negatives — most notably, the upgrade from a full to a queen bed. We dated on/off for a little over a year…until it recently went from “okay, the sex is worth the instability” to “okay, the sex is not 100000000% not worth the instability.”
Sooooooo, after all of that, here I am, back in the game. Today, when you’re back in the game, it basically means downloading/deleting/re-downloading dating apps weekly, cherishing the first number you inadverdently acquired before she hopped in the Uber moments later & attempting to corner the one girl at the pregame without a boyfriend (usually followed by three buddies attempting a similar feat).
Speaking of these buddies, it’s important to note Single HF 3.0 is no longer without a wingman. As some of my closest friends are experiencing, apparently at 25–26 you have two options with a significant other, break up or get engaged. What happened to the gray area?
Holy. Freaking. Moly. Those were the first three words that came to mind after finishing the second season of Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang’s Master of None. The second six words? I need to find a Francesca.
Francesca aside (…who just overtook Sloane from Entourage as the TV character girl of my dreams), it’s rare to find unfathomably relatable art (besides Season One of MoN of course, which I discussed here). Art with cries just like your cries. Laughs just like your laughs. Ridiculously awkward first dates with mundane conversations about nothing just like your ridiculously awkward first dates with mundane conversations about nothing.
Commonalities aside, it’s a creative masterpiece. There were dozens of “holy shit I can’t believe he thought of that” moments during each episode (more on the muted scene later). Aziz & Co-Creator Alan Yang not only created a show with storylines naturally discussed at our weekly #brunch, they did it in the mold of an Annie Hall-era Woody Allen — built on humor, yet rooted in deeper nods to identity, postmodernism, and of course, the absurdity of romance.
So how did Season Two cement its spot as the series of a generation? No, it wasn’t the popular first date episode (coincidentally reminding me of a certain someone broadcasting his first date over Facebook), rather, it was Aziz’ specific pulse on why the fuck we are so neurotic as a generation — be it dating fails, FOMO culture, imposing generational gaps — and ability to translate these themes into ultra-relatable scenes & dialogue throughout the entire season.
There is simply no other show on TV creating a more familiar ode to the “issues” of the twentysomething psyche (or as I like to call them, strengths). Even more specifically, the twentysomething male psyche. Gone are the days of Carrie Bradshaw existing on her own introspective “making-it-in-the-big-city-but-I’m-still-having-lots-of-sex” planet. For the first time, we’re starting to see these tales through a different lenses, and it’s about damn time the frat bro is replaced by the romanticizing Nouveau bro in pop culture (pick me!).
Now, as opposed to the first season, an eclectic mix of comedy, familial pride, and our favorite pastime (morning sex), Season Two was supercharged by a wide array of powerful, “all-the-feels” scenes. Quite simply, three were to blame for causing this sometimes grownup Jewish young adult to actually tear up (**Spoiler Alert**).
The first was in Episode Four, “The Dinner Party” when we first see Dev fall for Francesca. Dev brings Francesca as his date to a dinner party, where John Legend casually performs. They drink, they eat, and most importantly, they schmooze. Now, put those three actions together in my own life on a “date” and it’ll usually lead to — at minimum — a quality make-out session while she waits for her Uber, and at maximum….. you know.
At the end of the night, we see our boy Dev end up in an Uber home (ugh, I know it was a taxi, but I’m just going to say Uber to refocus the realistic frame of mind). We want him to make a move, at least the ENTIRE history of romantic scenes on television/film makes sure he will in fact make a move. But does he? No. It’s a quick friendly hug, and boom, she’s gone…and he’s alone. End scene…or you think.
No, Aziz brilliantly leaves the camera on Dev for the next 30 seconds as the cab pulls away. We see him cringe, tear up, equally emotional and emotionless while the car continues moving. This is a fucking moment. It’s a moment I’ve experienced many times…it’s probably happened to you, too. I could literally see myself in that car after an uneventful date, or in my room after a brutal breakup, even missing the bus after a rough day at work. That was me, and I caught all of the feels because of it (and the absolutely incredible song “Say Hello, Wave Goodbye” playing during this moment). These are the vulnerable moments we don’t share on social media, but happen nearly all of the time — yes, even more often than your friends’ trips to Iceland.
When we have these “socially unacceptable” emotions or experiences, we don’t know how to react. Do we text our friends? Post a long status presumably political on Facebook? Share an unfiltered Instagram picture of us in a relatively mundane trough of a moment? Create a Snapchat story littered with your true emotional state? Of course, we know how this actually plays out: hidden feelings, deeper anxiety culminating in perceived “loneliness” when we’re supposed to be more connected than ever before.
Later in the season, Dev notes: “it’s that feeling. I felt really connected to somebody and it felt good. Now I just feel fucking alone.” Fundamentally, we all just want a deeper connection to something, better yet, someone. When we have it, then lose it, it’s tough to know how to act. There is no right answer, and sometimes you just have to sit in the Uber home with dangerously introspective music to figure it out.
Another poignant scene (or run-up of scenes) is from the episode “New York, I Love You.” Now, as you can tell by every social media post I’ve ever created (and probably you too), I’m living in a bubble. No, not the tech bubble. I’m talking about the “ugh, can we really fit 35 friends on our 30 seat bus to Napa” bubble. This episode takes us out of this insane mimosa-infused, irresponsibly-spending-half-our-paycheck-on-Coachella bubble into (gasp) the world. We see a taxi driver, a doorman, and just normal good folks trying to survive.
A bunk-bed in New York City with three immigrants? Nah, that doesn’t happen right? What about a loyal doorman in a prestigious building? His life matters, his perspective matters, and as we saw in the scene with the resident’s extramarital adventures, his integrity matters. The socio-economic divide seemingly more pronounced than ever before is certainly something we don’t think about everyday in our boogie, “old people are above 32” “first-world-problem-ridden” day-to-day lives in quite simply, the richest cities in America (I’m talking to you New York, SF, LA, Chicago, and…okay, Austin, you can join the party too).
In this same episode, we also see diversity of health, or as I like to call it “struggling to fix the audio on the TV for five minutes until you realize it’s supposed to be mute.” Breathtaking. Here, we follow a deaf woman in her struggle to get her also deaf boyfriend to, how can I say, return certain sexual favors. Usually, with a scene like this, the artist may haphazardly depict the subject — perhaps music or people talking in the background, but that would not have put us in their shoes, in their eyes, and of course, their ears. As a people, we certainly take much for granted, and I think this blurb exemplified that brilliantly (note to self: start using that damn grateful diary again). Better yet, at the end of the day, we are ALL making it up as we go, hitting up overhyped bars or clubs, and most importantly, breaking into the damn pizza shop to get a late night slice.
The final scene, on certainly a more positive note, takes place during Dev/Francesca’s slumber party in Dev’s incredibly low-key ridiculously swanky pad (I mean c’mon, you’re telling me ‘Clash of the Cupcakes’ is paying those bills — there has to be a video-game playing Craigslist roommate hiding somewhere in there!).
Apartment aside, we see romance, real fucking romance…and it, again, brings all those feels. Wine, dancing to chic Italian music, Netflix — we see it all in this fleeting moment of shall I say, Modern Romance. Besides the fact that he is literally living my dream date in this scene (besides the sleeping arrangement of course ;), this is happiness. We’ve all been there with our SO’s — somewhere in between the first “homer” and the second time going out with her friends, we are incredibly, blissfully happy (and yes, I know Francesca was engaged, but for all intensive purposes, they were emotionally seeing each other).
It all leads up to another specific moment where you are either yelling alone in your apartment because you’re single AF or squeezing your SO closer to you — the “almost kiss” in the bedroom door’s window followed by that three second pecker afterwards. Seriously, guys? Could you create a sexier television moment? Whether you thought “omg sooooo hot” or “get the fuck out of here,” one thing is certain: you were touched, and immediately started thinking of the fairytale like moments from your own relationship(s).
By the time Francesca Irish goodbye’d, we hear another one of Dev’s taken-straight-from-our-group-thread quotes ringing in our ears “sometimes you meet people for a reason, sometimes you meet them for a season.”
In one line, he nails it: the crux of anxiety-ridden dating today, where there is a never-ending soap opera filled with “we hit the three year mark, let’s go all in because our friends in Virginia just got engaged!” “I’m not really feeling her so I just re-downloaded Bumble” and “I’m almost 27, I need to travel and teach English in Spain for a year to find myself” mentalities. Whatever specific anecdote may come to mind, it’s all there in this scene. Everything.
Social media screws us; it really does. In lives continuously flowing up & down, up & down, back & forth, back & forth, we only see one height online: the peaks. Rachel going to Bali (again), Joe (27) getting promoted to VP at his food-delivery startup, and Caroline getting engaged in Carolina (punny, I know). Unfortunately, this causes us to misplace expectations on which raw emotions, gut feelings, and numbing experiences are socially acceptable. Worse, we are trained to interpret other people’s successes as our failures, even though this is the furthest thing from the truth. “Great,” we tell ourselves, “now I need more money, a hotter girlfriend, and a trip to Europe” — that is, by essence, the only way we can be happy, right?
Master of None reverses this psychology with an unfettered grasp on the true desires of urban Millennials: we’re sick of this society of the anxiety-driving self-help era — richer, prettier, stronger, coffee snob, ‘world traveler,’ on and on. Aziz and co-creator Alan Yang recognize that we’re now in the age of self-validation — where the best art is the art pinching us to say “I am not alone.”
If there is one tangible takeaway from this Netflix original eerily similar to my own life, it’s comfort. Comfort with my own absurdly complicated emotions. Poor, yet improving Emoji game. Career uneasiness, and most importantly, my emboldened desire to let the play develop.
Harrison Forman is a former Facebook employee, influencer manager @DarbySmart, & media producer based in San Francisco, CA. He also runs Brunch Media, a new studio focused on digital content & shows for the urban dating app swiper.
As I write this during the return leg of a whirlwind mini-vacation (or as I like to call it, PTO-improvised) trip to Europe, two thoughts are running through my mind: I finally understand the whole travel bug and I can’t believe the Virgin Atlantic flight attendant just gave me a second pasty post-schmoozing. Pasty aside (it’s delicious, by the way), I’m feeling deeeeeeeep & the crux of the Millennial neuroticism (or what I’ve found out to be uniquely American neuroticism) has never been clearer.
We want to have no regrets during this time in our lives, but have no clue how to get to this mythical state.
Now, this idealistic destination doesn’t come with instant gratification like our famed Tinder, Spotify, Netflix, Venmo, Amazon et al. It can happen tomorrow, but it probably won’t and everyone needs to understand just when to take advice.
Now when the thirtysomething American couple I randomly saw twice in Portugal tells me: “we wish we could just pack up and live in Europe, but with a 1-year old at home, it’s out of the question now.” The mental (or tangible) rebuttal on my end is challenging. Is this a credible warning of what’s to come? Blind hindsight ignorant of my personal reality? Probably both, but moving to Europe for a couple years sure does sound pretty swell (including a second drink with Frederica in Lisbon’s Barrio Alto — if you’re reading this Frederica, I can send you the Google translated version of this post).
This “swellness” — the pack-up-and-dip plan — leads to the inevitable question: what about reality? You may be thinking: reality? Which one? I’m talking about the desk-sitting, resume-building, meeting-overkilled, savings-saving, social media-infused-when-we-should-probably-be-working reality we face on a daily basis. Oh yeah, that one.
Is it worth keeping?
Is foregoing the historically anti-sapien corporate life for the adventured traveler around Southeast Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe shrewd? Unhinged? Dangerous? Smart?
What about bouncing from a publicly traded tech company to start a business? Shrewd? Unhinged? Dangerous? Smart?
How about leaving corporate law working for the ACLU on $12/hr? Shrewd? Unhinged? Dangerous? Smart?
We all have our idealistic dream scenario. The question becomes: how do we stay present & happy in reality, while giving our ideality the time it deserves to become reality?
Disclaimer: No, I have not been smoking too much weed lately.
Our path towards discovering the balance is exciting (or at least, that’s what Yoga class is telling me recently). Our path towards discovering the timing can be pretty damn stressful.
With each marginal step up the age ladder, it becomes clockwork. Allie’s 26th birthday pregame when it felt like her 25th was yesterday, Scott’s 28th birthday pregame is Saturday when I could have sworn he rented out McTeague’s Saloon for his 27th last week. The same lavish Christmas party with three dressed elf actors instead of two. It’s happening…faster than we realize. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick..
The anxiety rushes in & the self-talking piles on. How do I sign up for Remote Year? Wait, this incubator is accepting cold applications? Are there any media projects associated with Brunch & its culture (extra shameless plug)? Mom, Mom! Pick up the damn phone!
Woo, I digress, but you can see how it becomes more difficult to chill out with each passing year.
Now, if I was some sort of emerging Millennial storyteller, voice, author, Instagram poser, Snapchat aficionado & writer (I’m not), I would tell you no one has the answers. But if I was just me, Harrison Forman, a 25-year old who has had four jobs, two apartments, countless Bumble dates, and a stagnant bank account that refuses to improve Y/o/Y I’d tell you, there is literally only one answer: acceptance.
What I’m starting to realize at 25 (great age, highly recommend it) is that almost all of our definitions of happiness are inherently self-delusional. As Yuval Noah Harari notes in Sapiens, the problem with our current view of happiness is viewing our personal narrative on the same scale as other narratives (e.g. our friend who just launched his startup, our high school roommate who seems happily engaged). When in reality, these moments were built up after ups and downs similar to your own!
There is no magical moment of happiness. That never happens, so the only option is to realize the constant impermanence of feelings, experiences, and emotions.
If I rush inside from my Uber Pool and yell “FUCK, vacation’s over,” will that really make me happy? As much I love a good yell (preferably to Avicii’s “Fade into Darkness”), my neurotic self is starting to realize, acceptance, rather than volatile immaturity is the answer — who would have thought?
Now, of course, acceptance doesn’t mean don’t try to do anything cool, interesting, or bold in our 20’s. We need to certainly stay cognizant and for sure, take calculated risks, but by appreciating the current absurd moment, every moment (even waiting at the water fountain for 10 minutes because your work-wife is running late, ugh), then I assure you, it will be okay. Actually, it will be great because the path you’re on is the path you should be on.
When I was of the ripe old age of 12, I was one year away from the date I was promised by multiple rabbis, parents, and friends would be the moment I throw out all of those childlike antics and become a man. Of course, I’m referring to every young boy’s dream that turns into a ridiculously overpriced, “first-time-seeing-your-parents” drunk evening called a Bar Mitzvah. Less known outside of the Jewish world is a conjunction with the Bar Mitzvah: a Mitzvah project. Tons of selfless (or parentally-forced) Jewish kids pick a charitable project to focus on in the year leading up to the aforementioned special occasion. My Mitzvah project involved teaching kids how to ready with my “therapy dog” anointed pup Latke; it was mind-blowingly fulfilling, and changed my life.
Since then, sadly, admittedly, tough-to-understand-why-I’m-sharing-this publicly, my volunteering game has been OFF. So caught up in ye old day-to-day life, I rarely took the time to venture outside-the-boogie-nouveau-yuppie bubble to actually help those in need. It’s not that I’m not a compassionate guy, I help my friends pick their brunch reservation, my other buddy seal the deal for the first date, and of course, my parents figure out how to Snapchat. For suuuuure helping people, but a different kind of help. It was time to take up a notch…actually, like five notches.
This all changed a couple months ago when I set the goal to volunteer six times in 2017. Not revolutionary, and easily beatable, I figured this would be a good start on my path to giving back to the community.
Over the weekend, along with my buddy Jason, we did just that and volunteered at Glide SF, a local homeless community organization.
Instead of the typical Saturday morning where I lie in bed borderline hungover watching Snapchat Stories, I scooted to their space and bagged some lunches.
Oh yeah, and it was infinitely more redeeming than the Snapchat Story viewing session.
I was blown away by how simple it was to volunteer. Signup online, hop in an Uber, and make over 500 lunches for the homeless people. Boom. Signed, sealed, delivered to the local judge that mandated this in the first place (kidding, of course).
Truth be told, it was one helluva morning, and the most absurd part of it all, the societal norms around my typical Saturday morning view this as unordinary. We have to change this..
Now, more than ever, anyone who can afford bottomless mimosas, needs to help those who can’t. It’s literally easier than swiping to volunteer…and you don’t have to adjust your age preferences 🙂
The Morning Bun: Quick blurbs with a fresh take on our young professional lives that we would probably share over mimosas…if it were not a weekday.
One of the most frustrating parts of life is the clear contrast between what is attainable via instant gratification, and what is not. One side, we can get music, Netflix, and a cute date at the touch of button. Boom. Voila. Minutes, even seconds, and we’re in.
Unfortunately, this approach does not apply to two rather big parts of our lives: building both relationships and your career (highly recommend Simon Sinek’s latest talk where he takes us through this trek). For this bad boy mini-post, let’s talk about the latter.
It is my (admittedly stubborn) belief that many fields are far from rocket science. Rocket science is certainly rocket science, but for many, especially in the constantly changing digital world, experience matters less and less. It’s so so so so so incredibly frustrating when you see the work, recognize the work, and think you can do the work (yes, this is THE most cliche overzealous Millennial belief, but yes, it needs to be said). Fundamental problem with this belief is that not too many current employers agree with it.
There is a common hard threshold for X+ number of years with the qualitative takeaways from those X number of years. Now, this is not ideal for many of us, I think for now we have to soak it in.
While thinking about how to expedite the learning significantly, I thought of a question that we can ask mentors or leaders or managers in your field. I think:
What parts of your X+ years of experience are most necessary to your position today?
It can be the general gist of this, but basically we’re trying to figure out which parts of this particular industry or job you must learn while getting tangible experience. The beauty of this answer is you can either 1) get those years of experience to learn Y or 2) focus everything you have on learning Y because you just found out what Y is.
The Morning Bun: Quick blurbs with a fresh take on our young professional lives that we would probably share over mimosas…if it were not a weekday.
My bank account isn’t the sexiest of late, and even though I know why (short-term salary sacrifices for long-term growth), it still is a rather hideous site. Okay, not hideous, but far from Napa Wine Club membership. Yikes, that’s such a ridiculous California thing to say.
Point is, I usually don’t get discouraged about the old bank account. I can still maintain my apt in San Francisco (somehow, someway), pay for one round for the table (as long as they’re are five or less people), and occasionally buy a new sweater I may wear twice. These are all dandy, and I’m grateful for each. Where the poop hits the fan at this stage is when the trip ideas start coming into the group threads. New Orleans for Mardi Gras? “Down.” Seattle-Vancouver? “Legggo.” Coachella? “YAS.” Italy? “Why not?” and so and so forth. Our initial response is almost turnt all the time. We’re fired up. What kind of crazed not-living-life-to-the-fullest-not-heeding-drake’s-words kinda person would say no to such glorious ideas?
Well, unfortunately, that fired up response, for many, leads to a two-week later (yes, we pushed off some answers) response of “Wait, how much is this going to cost?” And this inevitably leads to your 😳 or 😔. Yep, “this is brutal” may also find its way into the conversation.
For better or worse, we are not at the peaks of our careers (unless you’re a professional athlete — seriously is there any other profession where it’s universally known to peak in your 20’s). This mountain will certainly have peaks (that nice bonus), but we’re not at the peak. So we must, well, sacrifice. Contrary to popular belief, we shouldn’t spend like we’re at the peak, when we’re not. We need to save, conserve, hustle, etc, etc.
BUT wait, what about FOMO?
What about our 30 year-old friend telling us how badly he wants to be back in our shoes?
What about the unfortunate futuristic sight of us looking back on what we DID NOT do but SHOULD HAVE (the most blasphemous words in the English language)?
I definitely don’t have all of the remedies, yet…What I try to remind myself is that FOMO leads to actual Fear. I’ve never seen a positive result from FOMO, so let’s immediately scratch that.
As for not missing out on anything, well, that’s up to your subsconscious (yes, our conscious will still second-guess everything). Don’t drop 2K going to EDC despite never having gone to a music festival, when your infatuation with Thai food and recent Thailand Kayak search prove you’d better spend your money on that SouthEast Asia trip.
It ain’t fun, easy, and certainly not winning over dates when your bank account lacks a few of the 0’s you’ve dreamt about (And on the left side of the decimal). But if you’re smart, go on four Bumble dates per month instead of eight, take a layover to Mexico instead of nonstop, and buy a Groupon massage instead of the hot-shot Ritz Carlton you snuck into — you will get through it and get to that GREEN CHEDDA MONEY CASH before you know it…