I am Rajnish Yadav, a 26-year-old construction engineer. I am so much engaged in my work that I do not feel like taking an active interest in the social world. My parents are worried by my lack of interest in marriage, in my avoidance of socialization and my workaholic nature. I spend about 80-90 hours in a week either working or reading about my profession. I feel that I have to work these long hours because I am relative new in this career and it is a very tough competitive world. If I do not work this much, I risk being left out in the rat race. I also feel that I still have 2-3 years more till which I can stretch this pattern of my behavior and achieve success in my career. I am always preoccupied by thoughts regarding my work and how to make new breakthroughs. Am I making a mistake or do all the men of my age go through the same problem? Please advise.
Rajnish, you are in the phase of life where the balance of the triumvirate of human experience – love, work and play need to be successfully balanced to bring true fulfillment. Money and possessions have limited intrinsic value. They are a means to an end, tools for enriching life and improving the human condition of loved ones and the broader community. Ownership of tangible objects is temporary; sooner or later they will be lost, left behind or given to others. You have to achieve the maturity of a 26 year old – a detailed knowledge of the parameters of human existence, a sophisticated level of self-awareness based on an honest appraisal of your own experience within those basic parameters and the ability to use this intellectual and emotional knowledge and insight caringly in relation to yourself and others.
Right now the parameters that you need to be aware of are – separate psychologically from the parents of childhood and achieve self-sufficiency in the adult world, find a gratifying place in the world of work, experience sexual and emotional intimacy within a committed relationship, become a parent, accept the aging process in the body, integrate the growing awareness of time limitation and personal death, maintain physical and emotional intimacy in the face of the powerful physical, psychological and environmental pressures of worklife, develop and sustain friendships with individuals of different ages and backgrounds, continue to play and leave a legacy for future generations by facilitating the development of younger individuals. In order to establish a self separate from parents, to detach emotionally from them, to have a new inner definition of yourself as comfortable and competent there has to be shift in the formation of new relationships that replace them as the most important individuals in your life. Intimacy is the capacity to experience others’ need and concerns as being as important as your own. In this phase, brief and short-lived relationships no longer significantly boost self-esteem.
If you fail to develop the capacity for intimate relationships, you run the risk of living in isolation and self-absorption in later life. You have to understand that significant intrapsychic change occurs when intimacy is achieved. Through the repeated fusion of love, the self is increasingly linked to the partner. You may become much more tolerant and flexible. The goals are then set for the future of the couple rather than individual. You also find a suitable environment in which to abandon the infantile fears and notions of individualism. Longitudinal developmental studies indicate that no single variable predicts mental health as clearly as the capacity to remain happily married over time. A marital relationship facilitates the engagement and resolution of the psychological separation from the parents and beginning integration of adult sexual and work identities. Right now friendships may be primary source of emotional sustenance. However, these are only temporary stand-ins until replacements that are more permanent are found. Now there has been a transition in your life from learning and play to work.
This happens to almost every adult. Work becomes a central activity. The pleasures of play and learning are subordinated to the temporal and emotional demands of job and career. Depending on the choice of career and opportunity, work may become a source of ongoing frustration or an activity that enhances self-esteem and gradually lead to a shift in identity. However, the other tasks are equally important and will occur whether you wish it or not. If you fail to give adequate importance to these tasks, they may only hamper you later on. Without assuming the role of a spouse-provider, you cannot establish an inner sense of equality and mutuality in this world. This occurs as you marry, become parents, work, develop friendships and become a part of the community.
As these adult experiences become the substance of everyday life, they transform the relationship from dependency to mutuality and equality. The greater comfort with the inner world lowers the tendency to distort inner and external stimuli and greater experience in living a variety of life events increases the capacity to manage everyday events autonomously and with less stress. A marital relationship and stable friendships, adequate amount of play and work, a healthy mutually equal relationship with parents and the society will also allow you to increase your ability to control impulses consistently, delay gratification, limit and control aggression, channel energy into productive work and other activities and separate and form new loving relationships. This enhances your capacity for introspection and makes you wise.