Tag Archives: relationships

What Enneagram Type are You? I’m 4w7

My therapist would be upset at me because I’m not supposed to be thinking about any sort of career shifts until I achieve my two priority goals (stay in job for at least one year and study for/score high on the GRE.) — But I was in the mood to take a test that would help yet again confirm my suspicions that I’m in the wrong career. I’ve taken the Myers Briggs multiple times and have come out an INFP, so I moved on to the 145 question Enneagram. Apparently I’m at least consistent with my persona (INFPs reported to be enneagram 4’s most frequently.)

I’m a 4 with a “7” wing, and a bit of a mix of 5, 3 and 2. What on earth does that mean?

4’s are either called the “individualists” or the “romantics.”

Well, the other terms used to describe this type are more negative but perhaps more honest — “over-analyzer” and “melodramatic elitist.” Hmm.

“You need be seen as artistic, gifted and accomplished. You focus on your individuality and on carving your own distinct image. You need to express your deep feelings and want others to validate your emotions. Whether you are organizing your living space to reflect your refined tastes or engaging in an artistic pursuit, it is essential for your sense of well being that you express your creativity.”

Ok, ok. So this test really gets me, deep down, in all the ugliness that is my self-absorbed, artistic, intuitive, over-dramatic self.

The career portion of the test notes that ideal careers for 4’s = psychotherapist, dance instructor, artist, writer, life coach, relationship counselor, missionary, web designer or actor/musician. Again, the therapist suggestion pops up. Maybe I should stop ignoring that option.

7s, which is my second highest score, recommends fun careers such as comedian, photographer, entertainer, tour guide, artist/musician.

Clearly I either should be an artist or a therapist.

The whole 4w7 is apparently a strange mix, which is why I probably am eternally conflicted…

“This mixed type has an enormous potential for creativity. The lightness of Type 7 mitigates the heaviness of Type 4, and the profundity of Type 4 makes the superficiality of Type 7 tolerable. But at the same time it is hard for this mixed type to stabilize himself emotionally; he is strangely faltering and ungrounded.”

“Type 4 and Type 7 are very different. Nevertheless, they meet in their creativity. . . .”

“The lightness of the seventh Enneagram type is completely foreign to Type 4, who goes through life in a melancholy way. Suffering, from which Type 7 flees like the plague, is a constant companion of Type 4, who accepts it and does not try to repress it.

“The superficial optimism of Type 7 is a mystery to Type 4, just as the suffering of Type 4 is incomprehensible to Type 7.”

“This type is relatively rare, and like most of the mixed types that have some Type 4 in them, it can be found in artistic circles.”

Getting back to 4s, because that’s what I scored highest on…

Generally, Fours are intuitive, sensitive, impressionable, quiet, introspective, passionate, romantic, elegant, witty, imaginative, and self-expressive.

Fours get into conflicts by being moody, emotionally demanding, self-absorbed, withholding, temperamental, dramatic, pretentious, and self-indulgent.

At their best, Fours are creative, inspired, honest with themselves, emotionally strong, humane, self-aware, discrete, and self-renewing.

Recognizing Fours

Type Four exemplifies the desire to be ourselves, to be known for who we are, and to know the depths of our hearts. Of all the types, Fours are the most aware of their own emotional states. They notice when they feel upset, anxious, attracted to another person, or some other, more subtle combination of feelings. They pay attention to their different changing emotions and try to determine what their feelings are telling them about themselves, others, and their world. When Fours are more in balance, their exquisite attunement to their inner states enables them to discover deep truths about human nature, to bear compassionate witness to the suffering of others, or to be profoundly honest with themselves about their own motives. When they are less balanced, they can become lost in their feelings, preoccupied with emotional reactions, memories, and fantasies, both negative and positive.

Their Hidden Side
On the surface, Fours can seem to suffer from chronic self-doubt and extreme sensitivity to others’ reactions to them. But part of the reason for this is that Fours often hold a secret, inner image of who they feel they could be. They have an idea of the sort of person they would like to become, the kind of person who would be fantastically talented, socially adept, and intensely desired. In short, Fours come to believe that if they were somehow different from who they are, they would be seen and loved. Unfortunately, they constantly compare themselves negatively to this idealized secret self—their ‘fantasy self.” This makes it very difficult for Fours to appreciate many of their genuine positive qualities because they are never as wonderful as the fantasy. Much of the growth for type Four involves letting go of this idealized secret self so that they can see and appreciate who they actually are.

Wow.

So this made me tear up a bit because it’s so true. I’m constantly hoping that somewhere deep down there is a person who is so innately talented and special and she just needs to figure out how to make her grande appearance to be appreciated and loved. But I also acknowledge this is complete and utter bullshit and I just need to accept who I am and move on with life.

The Passion: Envy
At some level, Fours believe that they are missing something that other people seem to have. They feel that something is wrong with them or with their relationships, and they start to be acutely aware of what is not working in their lives. Naturally, given this frame of mind, it is difficult for Fours to feel good about themselves or to appreciate the good things in their world.

Fours rightly perceive that there is something inadequate or incomplete about the ego self, but they incorrectly assume that they alone suffer from this problem. Fours then get in the habit of comparing themselves to others, concluding that they have somehow gotten “the short end of the stick.” Fours feel that they have been singled out by fate for bad treatment, bad luck, unsatisfying relationships, bad parenting, and broken dreams. It comes as something of a shock to many Fours to discover that other people have suffered as much or even more than they have. This doesn’t mean that Fours haven’t suffered or that their painful pasts are inconsequential. But Fours need to see how they perpetuate their own suffering by continually focusing on old wounds rather than truly processing those hurts and letting go of them in a way that would allow them to heal.

The Thing About Growing Up

You know the feeling of being far from a place you’ve been so real to you that you can’t imagine it’s really gone forever? That is what it feels like to grow up. You may be able to go back to the physical place, but it’s gone no matter how there it is. And time itself is this strange continuum that seems to be on your side until about your mid twenties when suddenly it becomes your worst enemy, pulling you further and further away from the security of your long lost home.

Some days I close my eyes and find myself, as if it was yesterday, sitting in gym class frustrated beyond belief for my inability to climb a rope or run a mile. I can taste the fall air as we would be forced through physical fitness testing, cold on my lungs, as I failed pretty much everything besides the flexibility test. I can smell the leather of my friend’s dad’s car as he drove us to dance class, the burn in my lungs as I chased a school bus down the street in the rain yet another morning of waking up late, the dizziness of being a child and spinning around fast looking at the ceiling in our empty dining room to entertain myself, or lying on the cold floor of our game room pressing start and go of my tapes in order to write down their lyrics. Some moments are crisp while many are a blur, but nonetheless the place feels so real that I can only imagine if I try hard enough I could find my way back to it, despite knowing that I never can.

It’s not that I had a wonderful childhood. I was miserable most of the time. I was bullied by my parents and my friends. I was hyperactive and annoying and constantly trying to figure out a way to fit in. I was lonely and bored and unable to handle my own many imperfections. But there I was safe and free all at the same time. And growing up means letting go of that person you once were, the place where you’ll never truly return. You might as well have blasted off to another planet a one-way trip because that’s life, shooting you fast towards the night stars, whether you’re ready for it or not.

I used to be terrified of death — I’d stay up all night and try so hard to imagine myself not existing for a moment, and I couldn’t find the feeling. In eleven days I turn 31 and I know that life is not forever. I have twenty years ahead of me of either/and a strong career or family, and time is ticking onwards as a little part of me hungers to return to that place I once took pity on myself and hid in my bedroom, looking out the window at the tall trees swaying in yet another storm.

There were things to, like stability, which used to scare me that suddenly are what I long for most of all. I think this is because I grew up with such a theoretically stable life (despite constant wars raging in my household which begged to question if the stability was a benefit or a curse) I wanted none of it when I left home. At seventeen I left for college in Chicago and never once considered returning back permanently. I was running ahead full force, faster than I ever had in those mile runs of the physical fitness testing, trying to find comfort in change, afraid to settle down, afraid to stop before I was ready.

Even now I’m restless in many ways, probably more than the average person, but I still need the stable base in which to build from. I’ve found that in my boyfriend who has been there with me for the past nine years. He’s level headed and calm and he has no desire to run away from stability like a man running from a loon wielding an AK47. With a childhood where he had never-married parents who didn’t know how to handle their accidental child, he is perfectly comfortable with a planted life. And, despite not knowing each other in our childhood, we can look in each other’s eyes and still see that person we once were. For a second I am able to transport back to my home, but locked up in the arms of someone who wasn’t forcing me into a box of something I’m not, jabbing at me at every opportunity. With him I have acceptance of the girl who never got that as a child. With him, despite being lightyears away from where I’ve been and can’t physically return, I’m more home than I ever was.

 

Gone Girl: The Modern Marriage Commentary

The stories within a story of my life are endless. Take, for instance, my mother’s decision for us — my father, her, and myself — to go see the movie “Gone Girl” at the movie theatre for our family night activity together. I haven’t been paying much attention to pop culture lately so I didn’t know what the movie was about other than a wife’s disappearance. My mother had read the book so she had “a clue.”

If you plan to see the movie and/or read the book, spoilers ahead, fair warning. So the plot pretty much starts out with a woman and a man who supposedly fall in love at a time in their life when they’re young, self-entitled, horny, and everything is going right for them. But then the shit of life hits the fan – parents get sick, recessions crumble the economy, people lose their jobs, trust funds are tapped into – and the two lovebirds realize that they aren’t in a relationship with the person they wanted to be in the first place. The prenup just adds to the jealousy and drama once the perfect relationship falls apart. Because, as I took it, all of us are faking who we are when we’re dating and all of us say we’re not going to end up like those horrible married couples that nag and bicker at each other and have sex like route routine vs with passion and many of us do. Then one cheats with something newer and younger and more like the fantasy that they originally married, the other feels hurt, angry, and wants vengeance. For a moment they may even want the other partner to greatly suffer for the rest of their lives.. And there you have the plot behind Gone Girl, or at least the rational for it.

Well, going to see this movie with my parents, for those of you who follow my blog and understand my relationship with my parents and their relationship with each other, is a bit of a farcical plot line to begin with. Add to that attending the movie in one of those  newer “luxury” cinemas with the comfort seating and recalling chairs, and both my mother and father for large chunks of the movie falling asleep and beginning to snore quite loudly, and their golden commentary on the film afterwards, I couldn’t help but find myself cackling inside.

After the film was over my dad could in no way shape or form hide his disgust at the film. With my father there are no opinions that matter but his own. This time around I mostly agreed with him (it was a dumb plot line in terms of what actually happened and the constant elevator music to, I think, add a state of creepy and coldness to the film, was annoying as fuck, though I appreciated the social commentary.) Yet when my father has an opinion, he takes it personally. He even gets a bit angry or at the least annoyed – like, how dare anyone create a movie that’s so stupid that other people like that he has to see.

I must admit my favorite review from him of the evening was his frustration with the detective being female, as, and I quote, “that’s just not realistic.” He apparently has been annoyed for years with all the leading female detective characters souring the reality of his favorite shows like Law and Order. This conversation, of course, led into my mother noting that it is like how there are too many gay people on television these days – not that she has a problem with gay people – but there “just aren’t that many gay people” and that too isn’t realistic. I asked her to note a specific show where a gay person was written into it where it didn’t make sense (I’m waiting for her to tell me about some show in Rural Georgia where there’s a flamboyantly gay person who never gets threatened or shot, and perhaps that I could believe as unrealistic) but then she goes on to tell me she doesn’t watch a lot of TV these days so she can’t name a specific case, this is just in general.

Oh, my parents. At some point you just have to accept the crazy that is. My favorite part of last night was after the movie when we went to a cafe for dinner. Following our crepes my father ordered a pecan tarte. I asked if I could have a bite and he said ok. I noticed that there weren’t actually many pecans on top and tried unsuccessfully to secure one with the tiny piece I took off the site of the tarte. My mother then asked my father if she could have a taste. “Sure,” he said, as if it was rude of her to assume he might say no (but heaven forbid she just take it without asking, that would start a shit show.) My mother, knowing that any cut she takes will be horrible in the eyes of my father, asks him to cut her a piece. He, again in some sort of offended manner says “you cut your own piece.” She noted out loud that if she did he would say “she took too much.” He continued that she can cut her own piece and he wouldn’t get upset.

Ha.

She then initially takes a tiny bit of the tarte only to cut further into it about half way to get a piece with one of the few pecans on it. It does look like she took half the tart but I could see clearly that she just wanted to get the pecan. My father, of course, throws his hourly temper tantrum by saying something along the lines of “what the hell” and grabbing back the piece she cut with the pecan on it and leaving her with the original tiny piece she had cut. He then, as a peace offering, and to retain his belief that he’s a rational person, took a tiny pecan and put it on top of her tiny piece of the tart.

In reference to the film, I can’t imagine how my parents ever were the type of people who were young and in love. Was my mother just so beautiful and youthful when they met (she was 17 so maybe) that my father looked past her lack of ability to empathize with others? Was my father so stable and successful that by the time they got married my mother just looked past the fact that he smacked her glasses off her face on their honeymoon and broke them? I don’t know how these two were ever in love. Like the characters in the film they’re extremely self-absorbed people who instead of working together on communicating just make up their own stories, live their own lives. My dad was always opposed to a divorce — because it “hurts the kids” — while my mother was to scared to leave as she didn’t want to have to “work” another day in her life.

So here we are. Neither of them tried to frame the other for murder, though I wouldn’t be absolutely surprised if one day the result of my father’s explosive anger seriously injures my nagging mother. I’m surprised it hasn’t so far. Oh, there have been bruises and other pains, but nothing deadly. They seem to work together some how in their home of narcissism. One fight after the other after the other. It really is not pleasant to be here. I come back to spend time with family because logically I think that is what I should do. With my father dying and my mother getting older I don’t want to regret not spending the time with them – and I enjoy to some extent being in my childhood home for the few years left when it’s still in our family name. The rest of the visits are usually painful if not viewed as a sitcom and watched with an internal monologue of canned laughter.

I do worry about my own relationship and marriage – if I am to get married – and how that will play out in life. It’s easy to say that you won’t be like that, not a spiteful, angry couple, but as Gone Girl points out maybe we all turn into that a little bit. We’re so caught up in ourselves that we forget to care for the other. When times are good and there’s money and there’s security we can get through it, but then when the hard parts of life strike things start to crumble. I don’t want to be that way with my partner. I already hear the nagging going on in my head, we have our arguments, our moments of tension. I try to remind myself the value of the relationship is in the love itself, in the comfort, the partnership, the security. I can’t imagine a person in the world who could be a better fit for me and I’m pretty sure he feels the same way about me. As long as I focus on building the financial life that I want, and to save the money now versus later, to get to a point where with the exception of a major financial meltdown in the markets, I don’t have to worry about his career.

That’s why I’m so neurotic and crazy about my saving. I don’t want to ever rely on anyone else to support my happiness or security. It’s the moment we rely on someone else to do this when love cannot be the center of a relationship, it’s money – and when money is the center of the relationship that relationship will undoubtedly fall apart.

 

 

 

 

 

Divorce is the New Marriage: Why Marriage is Obsolete and Yet I’m Probably Going to Get Married Anyway

When one becomes an adult, often one gets married. My opinions on marriage are fairly strong as I believe it’s both religious ritual and business contract, neither of which actually are necessary if you are an atheist and have two working individuals in the relationship.

Marriage as a historic religious ritual makes a lot of sense. The whole concept of marriage between a man and a woman is core to the people who wrote religious books many years ago. It also helped ensure that a man would stick around to provide for his wife and children when women didn’t work. Continue reading

Should Parents Help Pay for a House?

It’s hypocritical of me to cringe when my boyfriend suggests that one day his mother might help us purchase a house. After all, my parents put me through college and didn’t require I pay back one cent. But, based on what they taught me, once college was done I was on my own. Want to go to grad school? That’s all on me. Want to go on a shopping spree and put myself into massive debt? My problem. Want to buy a house? Good luck and good riddance!

That’s why my nose chinches up when, in response to my commonly voiced concern — how are we ever going to afford a house to live in here — my boyfriend said “my mom will help.”

Continue reading

The Purpose of Life at 29

I feel like all I write about lately here is my constant back-and-forth on what I want the next 10 years of my life to look like. My good friend who is also a good year younger than I am just gave birth to her first child this week, and I’ve taken a good look at my life and feel like I’m making enough progress in my professional life to deserve to be a “real adult.” Which doesn’t have to include the whole marriage and kids thing, but it does include living independently, without random roommates, and being in a situation where I could have kids, or at least a kid.

Surprisingly enough, I’m starting to feel ready for that. I survived a small layoff recently, and I know that while my job will never be a sure thing, I’m valued in my role because I provide significant value to my company. Hey, I’m actually good at what I do, and confident enough now to know that if I lost my job I could, knock on wood, find another one. That feels great. That makes me think it might be time to start a family of my own.

I love my boyfriend so much. I’ve written a bit about how he hasn’t been in a full time job yet in his life, but at least he’s trying now. He’s also doing a bit of freelancing. It still is uncomfortable thinking about him being ok with making $20k per year while I’m bringing in over $100k and actually saving for retirement. I still occasionally look around at other guys and think, man, wouldn’t my life be so much easier if I could just fall in love with someone who has a real job and motivation to move up the career ladder? But that’s also what I love about my s/o… he isn’t motivated by money. He isn’t the type to work his life away. And ultimately, all I really want is a man who will be there to cuddle, to go for walks with, to make dinner with. What more do I need?

So maybe I should just get on with it and marry the guy. If I’m not going to marry him ever that’s one thing, but I’m pretty sure that’s what I’m going to do. I haven’t really felt happy at all in life until him, and I’m sure I won’t feel happy without him. After seven years, if I feel that way, that has value, and truth to it. Money be damned.

The Future is Now and I Have No Idea What to Do About It

Every once in a while I get this itch. I look at my life today and I think, wow, I’ve come so far and yet – is this the be-all end-all of happiness today? I’ve spent the last eight years working my way up in my career, terribly depressed most of the time, fighting the weight of impostor syndrome and a complete overwhelming feeling of incompetence and yet here I am, with a director-level title before 30, and everyone who knew me way back when is probably surprised how far I’ve come.

Looking ahead to what’s next, the big item up for auction is my devotion. That is, the next major choice in my life is marriage (well, unless I decide to buy a house first.) I’m extremely confused about marriage. While I’m glad we live in a day in age when women can be successful and independent, the options are almost too much. Do I even really need to get married? It seems marriage itself is good for two things — one, ensuring the woman is kept for if she is making less than the man in her life – and two, keeping families intact for children. Maybe there is some benefit to being with one person for the entirety of one’s life as you could say that there’s value in growing old with someone and not being alone, but who’s to say that one person will make it on earth as long as you do? In that sense, isn’t it better to have multiple close relationships so the odds of being alone later in life are less? Continue reading

When To Move In Together

This May, my boyfriend and I will be celebrating our 6 year anniversary. Many people are surprised that we still don’t live together. We spend many nights together and might as well live together, but the costs of living together would dramatically change our budgets.

As many of you know, four years ago I lived in a studio apartment in Silicon Valley. In 2007 when I moved in rent was $905 a month, utilities included. The next year, a big, evil apartment management company bought my complex and raised my rent to $1100 a month. The following year, when they raised it again to $1295 per month for the large, but definitely not luxurious studio, I moved out and got myself roommates.

I’ve never done well with roommates — both because I’m not always the cleanest of people, and because I can’t stand other people’s noise when I’m in the mood for silence. But this time around things worked out. One of the girls I live with is more of the mother type, so as much as my occasional mess bothers her, she helps keep me on track, and I do my part to keep my mess enclosed in my room. We’ve had one roommate move out, due to her schooling taking her to another part of the state, and my consistent roommate’s girlfriend moved in. She’s never home (she works until 11pm at night) and is very quite. The  motherly type roommate can talk a lot, but generally is respectful if I go into my room and don’t want to have a conversation. All in all, the living situation works out.

My apartment is in a condo complex and is quite lovely for the area. We have a complex pool, we are right off the freeway, and in the beautiful hills of Silicon Valley. The 3br 2ba is about $2200 per month total, and since I have one of the smaller rooms I pay $645 a month in rent. Utilities split come to $70 max, even in the cold months. When I moved in I was paying $605 a month in rent, so in three years it has only gone up $40 a month in rent, which is really not bad at all. I shudder to think of how bad my financial state would have been should I have stayed in my studio apartment (which is now going for nearly $1600 per month to first-time renters!!!)

But as I get older, living with roommates feels a bit juvenile. Yes, I have my own small room which can fit a full-size bed and not much else, and a large shared living room which is decorated relatively nicely by my roommates (with my bookshelves and books being my only contribution to the space), but it just doesn’t feel like my home. I always feel like I’m living in their home. Which would be fine if I were single, but the fact of the matter is I spend a large number of nights each week at my boyfriend’s house. I feel comfortable with him, even in his free-standing wooden shed where he lives (it has internet and electricity but no plumbing or kitchen, you have to walk into his hoarder grandparent’s house for that.)

Now that he’s turned 30, he has perked up about the concept of moving in together. I’m ready for it too, but the finances don’t make a lot of sense. He made $25,000 in income last year (taxed at self-employment tax rates.) Living for “free” (he pays bills, for his car, and food, but not much else) he can live on $25k per year. Since he made so little, after taxes, he was able to take home $22k in 2011. He has $8k in an emergency savings account, and no other savings. No debt either, so he’s doing fine as long as he stays in his freemium model of living. As soon as we move in together, and as soon as we think about our future, this all changes.

I made about $100k last year, maybe $65k-$70k after taxes. Putting out incomes together, $90k after taxes should be enough to live together, even though I’d clearly have to pay more of the rent. A decent 1br in the area goes for $2000 / month, maybe $1800, but after utilities that would be $2000 at least. Even if he were to increase his income substantially and we could split this 50/50, that would be $1000 per month or about $350 more per month, $4200 a year that could be put into my investing accounts.

On the other hand, moving in together would likely force my bf to get a full time job with a reasonable salary, which, in the short term, would reduce our spending ability quite a bit, but in the long term may enable him to increase his own earnings. It’s difficult to go from $25k to a $70k salary, but if you take a full-time job at $50k and earn basic income raises, eventually you will get up to $70k per year. Ideally together we will bring in $200k pre-tax by the time we have our first child, which would let us live on $100k per year, and have $30k-$50k for savings. But that also would require that we both continue to work full-time with no time off for parenting other than the few weeks one gets in the US from your job.

Regardless of the future, I wonder what is best for now. It seems like I should stay in my current living situation as long as possible, saving as much as possible, till the time comes when we get married and it is more rational to move in together. But I’m also tired of living like a young adult with roommates when also having a very stable, long-term, committed relationship. And I’m even more tired of spending so many nights in my boyfriend’s shed, without plumbing, and having to wander through the woods in the middle of the night to get to the main house, where I trip over his grandparent’s mess, and eventually find the one bathroom in the house with no working sink.

What If I Don’t Want to be a Leader?

It seems almost everyday there is an article written about there not being enough women, especially female leaders, in technology. While I’m not an engineer, I have managed to make a career for myself in tech. Not counting my first year out of school when I was working a variety of non-profit jobs, I now have 5.5 full years of experience working in some area of the technology industry.

There are days when I dream of one day being CEO or VP of a company, but in reality I don’t have what it takes to be a leader. I’ve written about my poor lack of management skills previously, and while some of them can be learned and approved on, I just don’t have what it takes to lead. I’m quite socially awkward to begin with, and I am a bit of a perfectionist. I have trouble managing myself let alone other people. I’m decent with managing an agency where the relationships are not so connected, but I can’t see myself becoming a true in-office team building type of leader, ever. I’m not a follower, either, though. I’m a do-er. I like to come up with ideas and make them happen, and then move on to the next project. (Maybe I should work for an agency… hmm…)

Leaders must be extremely confident in their own abilities, confident enough to make someone look up to them and at the same time not to worry that the person who gain enough power to replace them at any given time. They must know when to prod someone to improvement versus when to let things just get done. When they prod, they must be gentle but firm, and ideally closer to right than wrong. They must be able to follow up on priorities, ensure process is followed, and deliverables are of high quality.

Since I’ve decided I will never be a leader, at least not in the technology space, I’ve been wondering what my goal in life should be. It’s a bit frustrating because where I am now professionally, in a senior manager level role, puts me in a prime position to move on to better paying roles with leadership written all over them. When I get to that point, will I really want them? I wonder if there will come a time in my life when everything will click and I will suddenly be ready to lead. But I’m more absent-minded professor than slick and savvy CEO. But instead of dedicating my life to study and research, I yearn to create.

In 20 months I will be 30 years old. The biological clock is also ticking and this only makes me more confused over what my career path should be. I just cannot see myself as VP or CEO of a company — in fact, the only thing I can really clearly see myself being is a mother. That can happen with also being VP or CEO, but not in the way I envision it. Even if I was a natural born leader, would I ever be able to achieve the same career success as a man with the same talent and proclivities?

All the while, I don’t like the bitter taste business leaves in my mouth. I’m the type of person that wants everyone to win, and while it’s fun to feel part of a team competing against another group (in fact, the professional world is the first time I’ve ever felt like I sort of fit in), it’s still something that grates away at my values. It’s not my business in particular, it’s any business. It’s the nature of the game. Some people (I’m guessing mostly men) thrive on competition, which works well in business — especially cut-throat, rapidly changing industries like technology — but those people are definitely not me. I hate competition and I hate feeling like I’m attacking someone else(‘s product) or that they are attacking me back. Are there a lot of women that really enjoy this sort of this? Is it possible that men just thrive on this constant war and women biologically are inclined to protect and nurture?

This must be why the technology industry is such a boys club. I can’t talk the same talk. I can’t shoot jabs at the competition, or get into the game fully heart and soul. Watching newer members of my company, all male, jump on board and get into these conversations, makes me realize how much of an outsider I still am. It might be because I’m a woman, or it might be just because I’m not someone who excels in business. I’m reasonably talented at marketing strategy and overall enjoy anything involving strategic thinking and defining process. I’ll put down the rules to the battle, but will step out and take a long walk far away before the first shot rings out into the night.

The trouble is that success, at least financial success, relies on one’s ability to stand up and fight battle after battle with a chance they’ll win the war. Is it so wrong that deep down I want my knight in shining armor to come and rescue me from the war and tell me he’ll fight the battles while I stay home with the kids? Not that I really want to “stay home,” but I want that option, and more freedom. Many people don’t even have that option ever, and I don’t think I “deserve” it, but that doesn’t change the fact that I want it. Or, that suddenly a life of doing a more mundane yet important job like cutting hair or designing living rooms seems much more attractive, versus everyday waking up to battle.

Thank Goodness Times Have Changed: NY Times Article on Women, Intellect, and Finding a Man

This weekend’s NY Times article titled “The M.R.S. and the Ph.D.,” detailing the sociological change in men’s respect for intelligence over the last century, can be summed up in the following quote:

“One physician explained the problem in Popular Science Monthly in 1905: An educated woman developed a “self-assertive, independent character” that made it “impossible to love, honor and obey” as a real wife should. He warned that as more middle-class women attended college, middle-class men would look to the lower classes to find uneducated wives.”

The article, which focuses on PhD-earners, goes on to highlight how our last century has, for a large part, been filled with a society that tells women to be or act stupid in order to catch a man. Women were taught to marry up, and men were ok with marrying down, so long as their female counterpart would showcase talent in two fields: cooking and cleaning.

My, how the world has changed…

“ONE of the dire predictions about educated women is true: today, more of them are “marrying down.” Almost 30 percent of wives today have more education than their husbands, while less than 20 percent of husbands have more education than their wives, almost the exact reverse of the percentages in 1970.”

However, the article goes on to highlight research done for an upcoming book on female breadwinners, where women said they wanted to be able to look up to their guy, and he would need to have an equal level of education in order for the equation, and the relationship to work.

Looking at my personal relationships, I find I’m like these women who want a man I can look up to an admire, though that’s more in terms of intellect than wealth. I don’t have a PhD or a MA, so perhaps with just a BA I’m still concerned to be less intelligent than the women this article focuses on. Regardless, I’ve found that I like to date “up” in terms of intelligence, and one of the reasons I love my SO that still gives me butterflies is when he talks to me about his excitement over physics or the inequalities of the world.

But there are still gender dynamics at play in our relationship. Even though I make more than him salary-wise (my $90k to his $20k), I’m still not “allowed” to propose to him. I have to wait for him to propose, even though we’ve been together 6.5 years. He is much less aggressive than I am in terms of asking for raises, and will remain this way throughout his life. While he is not motivated to pursue a professional life, in a way, I enjoy that he is intelligent but not obsessed with his career. This allows me to focus on my career, which is stressful and demanding, and then to come home to someone who isn’t stressed out in the same way. I’ve told him if he can cook and clean for me, I’d be ok in the long run for him to be the “stay at home mom.” I certainly understand why it’s nice to have one person in the relationship play this role, albeit not best from a financial perspective.

What do you think? Does intellect play a role in your deciding who to date and settle down with?