Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Depressing much

It's no secret that I'm not particularly enthused by my current job. I'm on placement (e.g. my company is renting me out) to a big life office. The job title was "manual calcs" which, in the actuarial world, usually means a fair amount of juicy maths.

Actuarial maths doesn't really float my boat, but I figured I'd at least get some good old-fashioned brain stimulation. No dice. The job turns out to be basically data entry: extracting information from old systems and posting it to pensions administrators. Not exactly world-changing stuff.

One thing I don't mind about the job is that it gives you a certain feeling of connection. You read all these names, all these dry facts about people, and you wonder what their life is like. This lady went to Australia. Was it an elopement? This guy married at the age of 60. Did he finally meet the love of his life?
This young fella who was only in the scheme for a year. Did he find his dream job elsewhere?

Then there's the death claims. These quite often give a sense of connection, but for entirely the wrong reasons. Today I processed one that really got to me: a top-tier medical professional, lonely and living alone, committing suicide.

When you read something like that, you can't help but wonder: will that be my life? Will I live without love? Will I die with no-one to mourn me?

I'm 23 and I've been single for 5 years now, which time included my entire university career. I'm fairly sure that I'll be able to fall off this particular wagon given time, but it's not immediately obvious how to go about this. That's really disturbing, when you think about it: the only thing between me and a really depressing death claim is 40 years.

I'm not scared of kicking the bucket (no, really!). I just don't want to have too many regrets when it happens. The situation definitely calls for me to do something drastic. The problem is, I don't have a damn clue what.

Answers on a postcard.


Dunc said...

I know exactly what you mean... It's been 14 years for me now (I'm 35), and the worrying thing is that I'm no longer sure that I even want to fall off that wagon - I've gotten too used to it. Still, being single doesn't necessarily mean being lonely - I have some decent friends, and I have some hobbies that occasionally get me out of the house and meeting other people. But yeah, I do occasionally find myself thinking that I could probably lie dead in my flat for a month before anybody noticed...

If you want to meet girls, try dancing classes. And do it soon - the longer you stay single, the harder it gets to do anything about it.

Lifewish said...

Dance classes is not a bad idea, I actually tried salsa at one point. The problems with that were twofold:

1) I'm out-of-shape enough that I don't look terribly impressive on the dancefloor

2) Every other young male in the vicinity had apparently had the same idea - the ratio was 2:1, I kid ye not.

Maybe joining a gym would work - that'd solve issue 1 too. Problem is, I'm elitist in my preferences: a girl's brain is more important than her body. From what I've seen of gyms, they tend to favour people who focus on the latter.

Actually, as far as I can tell, intelligent girls are mostly in the same boat as us. They stay at home most evenings watching DVDs or reading, and only really speak to work colleagues or pre-existing friends. Short of starting a Jane Austen fanclub in the area, I can't see any easy way of getting round that.

I guess this is part of why religious folks join churches.

Dunc said...

Good points all, dammit. I guess I'm just going to have to go with my original plan of fortifying myself with booze and misanthropy. ;)

Lifewish said...

Well, there is some hope: once you know a few girls, that circle will tend to naturally expand. For example, I'm currently attending weekly DVD nights hosted by a (female) friend from uni, and one of her mates may possibly be showing a slight interest...

The trick here seems to be that at no point do you hit on anyone who isn't already hitting on you. If you do, everyone recategorises you as randy and/or desperate, and the entire group closes ranks against you.

For guys, the urge to test the waters with every cute girl they meet is surprisingly strong. I live in hope that it can be overcome.

Dunc said...

Ah, I have the opposite problem - I have very little idea of how to "test the waters" even with girls that are very definitely showing an interest. And by the time a day or two has passed, I'm no longer convinced that my assessment of their interest was accurate... Blasted informal social communication! Why can't there be logical rules? ;)

Lifewish said...

Heh, I've been there too. I was recently shocked when a friend of mine* commented that I'd successfully pulled several times when he was present, I just hadn't noticed it.

There's definitely an issue here. False positives get you slapped or treated like you're an asshole. False negatives miss you an opportunity and may upset people.

And detecting mutual attraction will never be easy. Neither party wants to admit it first, so both parties are actively trying to deceive the other. Bummer.

Basically there's two good solutions:

1) Phone a friend. It's you she's (possibly) trying to hide her feelings from; someone else may be able to get better readings.

2) Say "screw it" and ask her out for a drink anyway.

Option 1 is less scary; option 2 looks less yellow-bellied. Pick your poison.

Option 3 is to set up a system where both of you submit a 1 if you like the other person and a 0 if you don't. A computer multiplies the numbers together and tells both of you if the result is a 1. However, suggesting this to a girl pretty much guarantees a 0.

* Who actually gets girls, in both senses of the phrase.