|Send Me Your Anxiety and I'll Send You Mine|
In becoming a man, they broke down in front of a woman.
The sun was high up in the sky and we sat, drinking our freshly ordered drinks and laughing at the absurdly long menu. We haven't done this in quite some time. Actually, we've never actually sat down and spoken so seriously ever, despite years of friendship. Gradually, I began the conversation. As the only girl in the group, I found comfort in showing my vulnerability first. Although my weakness is not as dangerous as theirs, somehow it continues to jeopardize my ever developing identity as a lady. The three of us are certain that I will be professionally and financially alright, but we weren't quite so sure how it would translate to my lacking romantic life. When it comes to these conversations, I always fail to distinguish the beginning and the end of each others' stories.
Sharing our quarterlife crisis meant having our issues bleed out across each others' pages. Soon, we talk about our careers. Seemingly, to become a man is to realize his responsibilities. Suddenly, wrinkles form on their foreheads, perhaps, a premonition of their future complexions. They wearily talk about their future plans, using their hands to gesture a loss of balance between passion and security. Together, we strove to figure out ways to prepare one another for the inevitable. Well aware that my best friends were meant to fill certain pairs of shoes, I could not help but see the greying in their hair and the shudder in their voices.
When one talks about gender assigned roles, one will surely move on to talk about families. Thinking about the future, when you're with a group of old friends is rarely advisable as it begs us to paint a stark contrast between "the good-old days" and "the future". Once, whilst in the car engulfed by the Jakarta traffic, we looked at each other and wondered, almost in unison, if this was the best years of our lives or if, even worse, the best years of our lives had already passed like an insignificant parade float. I felt cheated at that moment in time. I felt like I had not enjoyed enough midnight chats or alarmingly high caloric sweet treats to announce that the best days are over. Of course, that night we had one of the deepest conversations ever about it all and it made me feel perfectly fine with the possible reality that the best parts of life were gone, because I had these fantastic friends to spend (read: worry about) it with. So, if you do begin comparing the past, present and future amongst your good old chums, do note that if you go far enough, a sappy, highly complex conversation will be available at the end of the tunnel.
|Come at me bro! Ready to create your very own nuclear family?|
Male anxiety does not have a name. In my opinion that is the most debilitating part of the whole issue. This gap in our vocabulary prevents us from openly talking about it. It is also a sign that we are far from accepting this idea that men are also vulnerable to the pressures of life. Perhaps, as a young woman who has tons of opinion on gender equality, be it the role of women in the workplace, or the balance in marriage and partnership, I think that we should make room for men to voice out their problems openly. Gender equality goes both ways, ladies and gentleman. Who are we to promote female employment, if we can't allow the men to expose their vulnerabilities?
"Everyone is under pressure," might appear to be a simple message to grasp, however, it is not a simple concept to accept. But, at the very least, we can send each other our anxious mails to realize that the world isn't as big as it seems to be.