So right now I’m in week six. That’s fine. Six is actually a pretty chill week, a down week. One of the most consistent, actually. It’s what comes next that scares me.

Here’s the thing: since at least as far back of September of 2008, my life can be pretty cleanly divided into 10-week chunks of experiences. This isn’t really anything special: for the most part, plus or minus a little noise, this is going to hold true for anybody on the quarter system. The core of the school experience was these little ten-week loops of four classes at a time: two and a half month batches of Chinese and Economics or whatever that stand out to me as discrete. Sure there was usually an empty week, part of a finals week and some break time at the end of each batch, but they don’t count. Honestly I’ve always thought that under my utterly arbitrary mental grouping of experiences, these types of breaks – all eleven “reading weeks” of my college career, for instance – fit much better with each other than they did with the quarter to which they were nominally attached.

And that cycling of the academic quarter forced plenty of other things into these nice ten-week patterns. This was literally true in, say, the case of my internship in China, which had to be basically ten weeks long to the day so that I could make it back in time for Spring quarter. And it was directly responsible for plenty of extracurricular stuff, which would shut down during reading and finals week – so I’d have ten weeks between switching roles at the magazine, or between switching schedules and committees for Special Olympics.

But then, gradually, I realized that a lot more about me was starting to synch to this pacing. I’d get sick of music after ten weeks. I’d find new shows to watch. I’d stop writing, or start it again. I’d get bored of what I was doing. I heard somewhere that kids in my generation have an average attention span of about seven minutes, because that’s roughly how long a standard TV show will go between showing you commercials. So you get used to that timing and you eventually come to expect it. Maybe what’s happening to me is the same basic premise on a bigger scale.

I think somewhere along the way I started adjusting myself to the ten-week system even when I didn’t need to. My first trip to China was supposed to last seven weeks and change, but I wound up staying two weeks extra. There was no pressure on the length in either direction, but having the whole thing wrap up at about ten weeks just seemed like the right way to go. After graduating, my stint with the investment bank earlier this summer lasted ten weeks exactly, and I couldn’t have stood staying any longer.

After the bank, I took seven weeks to find a new job. A little short of the ten, sure, but it still represented a radical departure from what I’d been doing. Ten weeks where I had never been home became seven where I never left. I got used to living without internet for the most part, which was a big adjustment which I am not eager to ever repeat. I had to deal with my drugged-up landlady on the regular and spend my afternoons hassling people to give me their time in exchange for exactly nothing. I was ashamed for weeks of my own perceived failure, a mindset which did me no favors.

But the nice part of this experiential chunking is that it naturally allows for big jarring turnarounds. If I was having a bad quarter, or a crappy internship, or a lonely stint in a foreign country, it was all cool because everything was going to be different in ten weeks and I could sorta start over. Hell, even as far back as high school, debate topics would only last for two months.

Moving to Mountain View has been one of these big turnarounds. I’m living in a better place, have a better job, have more free time and a better social circle.  I’m playing Starcraft again, which matters for reasons that I’ll be explaining in the next blog or two. Long story short, things are really good for me right now, but I’m nervous because all signs indicate that the cycling that’s been my norm for years has finally stopped.

My job at PayByGroup, my new company, isn’t an internship. There’s no deadline at the other side. It’s not like I want to leave – I’m actually really enjoying my work and I’m not actively looking for a way to get out. Pending the company failing or me getting fired, though, I’ll be here for a long time. I’m sure this is a good thing, a big part of growing up or whathaveyou. But still, there’s a departure in the framework here and I’m not sure that’s really hit me yet.

Because like I said, I’m still only in week six. The week after midterms, or the week that I got off from the Qunar job, or the calm before the storm of Pacific Crest’s Vail conference. A really nice and comfortable part of the arc that is – as far as I can see – no longer an arc.  The idea of a “next” still obviously exists because it has to, but for the first time in a while I have no clue what that means or when it happens.

« »