Sunday, November 19, 2017

How to Make Friends as an Adult, Part 4: The Tale of Four Friends

All this time, I've proclaimed the wonders of the Friendship Funnel and how great the method has worked for meeting people and making new friends. Today's where the rubber meets the road. Let me tell you about four different friendships in my life and what it really looks like to put these relationship tools into practice.


3 Decades and Counting

Technically I met my best friend at age three, so this counts more as a childhood friendship. However, in adulthood we went to colleges 800+ miles apart, started our first professional jobs in the same city, and then split up once more a couple of years after getting married. And most likely, I'll never live in the same state as her again.

So why is she still my BFF to this day? I can't remember who started it, but in college we decided to become accountability partners in our walks with Christ. Ever since then, we've maintained a weekly call, hangout, or video chat to ask how the other is doing and pray for one another. The funny thing is that we rarely text or call each other between our scheduled meetings, but she absolutely is that steady rock I know I can count on, no matter how many years pass or miles increase between us. And that indeed is a rare, once-on-a-lifetime friendship that I'll probably never be able to recreate.

belly shot of a pregnant married woman in a long-sleeve red dress
Yes, I totally ask my BFF to stand up for the webcam so I can see how her belly is coming along. Just a part of having a long-distance relationship!

Mismatched Expectations

During our "married without kids" season, we naturally hung out with a lot of other couples in the same life stage. One of the women really sought me out for one-on-one hangouts, and we quickly connected over tea and cats. Unfortunately, she wanted our relationship to go much deeper at a faster rate than I was comfortable with. A good heart-to-heart every once in a while is normal, but when every meeting becomes a soul-bearing session where you have to play the counselor... it becomes very draining. Healthy friendships are a two-way street where both people give and take, and I felt like I was unable to give her the emotional support she needed. And I didn't require as much emotional support as she was willing to offer. A mismatch in friendship needs, if you will.

Eventually Mr. Gamer and I moved states, and I gradually let the distance, both physically and relationally, grow between us. At one point, the woman did ask me why I didn't want to keep in touch with her as much anymore, and I told her truthfully that I wanted to focus on making friends in my new hometown. In hindsight, I wish I had the courage to tell her the whole story, so she could learn and grow from our relationship.

Don't Discount the Quiet Ones

After moving, we eventually found a church to attend with a Bible study for married couples with young kids. I felt an immediate connection with one of the women there, but she seemed rather... quiet and shy. Like, to the point where I had no idea if she thought I might be a potential friend too. We did this dance for several months, kinda clicking but then never really spending time together outside of church.

I think our friendship would have forever failed to launch if she hadn't randomly asked me to teach her 7-year-old daughter how to knit. We would get together once a week (see what I mean about consistent one-on-one meetings?), and I would instruct both her and her kiddo. Eventually her daughter got tired of the craft, and then it seemed like our friendship would fizzle out now that our excuse to hangout regularly had disappeared. Luckily, my friend told me about her bucket list to run a 5K race, and I jumped at the chance to train with her. So we moved from being crafting buddies to workout partners, which is a much better match. We both need motivation to keep in shape, so our get-togethers every two or three weeks usually involve taking a long walk and chatting about life, family, and Jesus.

A Work in Progress

My final story involves a current work-in-progress relationship. I've been on the hunt for playdate buddies for my kindergarten-age son, and I found a classmate whose mom is easy to talk to. We set up a low-key first playdate at an indoor playground and it went swimmingly, especially with our youngest children being around the same age. I approached the mom for a second playdate a few weeks later, and it was also a success. I found out she likes to crochet, so maybe after Thanksgiving is over, I'll see if she'd be interested in hanging out sans kids for a craft night over a pot of tea. Just taking it slowly with low expectations, so we'll see what comes of it!

black teacup and teapot, backlit by strings of lights
All my friends must love tea! (Just kidding, but it's a bonus. ^_~)

Well, I hope you enjoyed this series on making friends in adulthood. I'm by no means an expert and am still learning how to be a better friend to others, but I've found these basic techniques for developing new relationships to be tried and true. Best of luck with your current and future friendships, and send me a comment if I can be of any help!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

How to Make Friends as an Adult, Part 3: How to Turn an Acquaintance into a Friend Worth Keeping

In this series so far, we've talked about the Friendship Funnel and how to make friends by meeting, filtering, and investing in people. Part 2 focused on where and how to meet potential friends. Part 3 explores what it means to filter and invest in people. These two steps go hand in hand because in order to determine if someone is a friend worth keeping, you need to invest time to really get to know him or her.

How to Make Friends as an Adult, Part 4 - How to Turn an Acquaintance into a True Friend

Spend Time Together

If you've met an individual several times in group settings and your personalities seem to click, now it's time to test the waters and find out what kind of friend she is. For me, that involves hanging out on a one-to-one basis. Conversations tend to deepen once you get past the small talk and you find out what the other person actually thinks about his boss, spouse, and even political and religious views.

Take the Initiative

You need to make the first step, not wait on the other person. People get busy with life and may not make friendship a priority, so it's up to you to text, call, and arrange a meeting. And to avoid the back-and-forth phone tag of "I dunno, what do you want to do?" – have a plan. Give them a choice between two fun options, such as going on a hike, grabbing lunch or a cup of coffee, arranging a playdate, or catching a movie together. The more you get to know each other, the better ideas you two will have for next time's hangout.

If you've extended the invitation to meet up and haven't gotten a response after a couple of times, don't be hurt or offended. It takes two to tango, and not everyone needs more friends in their current season of life. Just assume that they're not interested or don't have the time right now. You can try again in the future to see if their schedule frees up, but in the meanwhile, move onto the next person.

Be a Person of Integrity

At the risk of sounding like your mother, here are some rules of common courtesy that all good friends should keep:
  • Confirm the meeting with your friend the day beforehand – they may have forgotten entirely.
  • If you agree to meet, then keep your word. Don't leave your friend hanging while you're waiting to see if better plans come along.
  • Along those same lines, don't say "We should totally hang out next week" when your schedule is already booked or you have no intention of doing so. It sounds polite at the time, but it sets inappropriate expectations.
  • If you have to cancel for legitimate reasons, cancel responsibly and reschedule a new time. Give the other person plenty of advance notice so they have time to make new plans.
  • Show up on time or even early to the meeting, and call or text if you're going to be late.

Schedule Regular Meetings

After a few one-on-one hangouts, you'll naturally start to sort people into different categories. In general, people have a core group of confidants, a bigger circle of friends and hangout buddies, and then everyone else in the world, ranging from acquaintances to networking connections to complete strangers. The key is to really invest time into those best and good friends. Unfortunately, it's all too easy for many adult friendships to fizzle out from a lack of effort and organization. To prevent this from happening, make your closest friendships a regular commitment that you both agree to.

two girls' hands with friendship bracelets
"Do you pinky promise that we're going to meet every third Wednesday of the month?"

Scheduling repeating meetups may sound really corny, but it works! I video chat with my long-distance best friend every Saturday morning before the kids get up, and I have a weekly playdate with another mom of young kids. For my regular friends, I loosely schedule a hangout every two to three weeks and then rotate among them. Even Mr. Gamer has a regular Thursday guys night with his best friend at their fav Mexican restaurant, and if they can't meet for three weeks, Mr. Gamer makes sure to follow up as soon as his friend is back in town because it's so easy to lose that habit.

Bottom line: spending time together is the glue that keeps friendships going for the long haul. Given how long it takes to find and develop a really good relationship, it's certainly worth the extra effort to keep it going. For some friends, that means getting up at 5 am every morning to run together. For others that may live far away, that may mean writing a huge email twice a year to catch up. In Part 4 of the series, I'll show you a few real life examples of my friendships, how they developed, and where we are today.

Question:
How did you meet your closest or oldest friend?

Sunday, November 5, 2017

How to Make Friends as an Adult, Part 2: Where to Meet Potential Friends

Last week I introduced the Friendship Funnel and how you need to continually meet, filter, and invest in people to make new friends. In this article, let's focus on the "meet" part of the equation – how do you intentionally encounter new groups of people?

Top Places for Finding Friends as an Adult

Top 4 Places for Finding Friends

There are a ton of situations and gatherings where you can meet new people, but the groups where I've had the most success had these things in common:
  1. An area of interest for you
  2. Regularly occurring meetings that happen at least once a month (or are supplemented with active social media channels, chatrooms, or forums)
  3. Growing membership with both new and longtime participants
Here are a few examples of where I have personally found and made friends despite not knowing anyone:

Church

Churches encourage fellowship, community, and love for your fellow man, so usually members have a culture of being very open to making new friends. (If not, try another church.) Upon finding a church to call home, I quickly get plugged into one of their Bible studies to meet individuals in a smaller group setting. After regularly attending for several weeks, suddenly you'll find people calling out your name after Sunday service and asking how your kids are doing.

Serving in a ministry is also a great way to get to know a subset of people at church. A friend of mine attends the local megachurch, and when I asked if she ever felt lost among the masses, she said that she and her husband serve with 20 other adults in the Sunday school class for first graders, and she has become very close with the other volunteers. (Oh my goodness, how many first graders are we talking about??)

Kids Groups

Speaking of kids, I made friends a lot faster once I became a parent. You have an automatic commonality to connect over and everyone likes to talk about their babies, the latest milestone, the troubles they're having, and such. I met other stay-at-home parents through my church's moms group, but there are plenty of community playdate groups, library reading times for toddlers, children's museums, and playgrounds to visit. And if your kiddos are in school, it's easy to run across other parents during pickup times, sports games, or when volunteering for your son's Halloween party. I just tell other moms, "Hey, our girls seem to get along so why don't we have a playdate?" and then you have the perfect opportunity to exchange phone numbers.

Baby wearing and drinking tea with moms and their sleeping newborns and infants
Don't you love drinking tea and bonding over how much you miss sleeping and taking daily showers? (Source: Suzanne Shahar)

Community

If church or kids aren't your thing, not to worry – there are loads of community groups and activities. I mentioned the library before, but there's also your home owner's association (HOA), service projects to clean up the town, neighborhood block parties, local alumni groups, classes and group outings for senior citizens, and much more. I know a family guy in his late 20's who wanted to make a difference in his city's government, so he attended a few political rallies and town meetings and now is running for office for the first time with the backing of his local representatives. Whatever you're passionate about, go for it!

Hobbies

Speaking of interests, join a club that supports your hobby. Want to get in shape as your New Year's resolution? Attend gym classes, find workout buddies for accountability, or partner up with someone to train for a 5K race. Adore cats? Volunteer at the nearby humane society to find fellow feline lovers. There are knitting groups, tabletop gaming enthusiasts, sports bar regulars, dog parks, fish keeping clubs... pretty much something for everyone.

As for places where I haven't had as much luck, they include:
  • Work: When I was fresh out of college, I made lots of friends with other recent grads. However, once people got older, they were generally less free with their time due to family commitments. Plus, I worked in a male-dominated engineering company and didn't feel like being super-friendly with married men. Afterwards, I joined an all-female marketing company, but by then I was a remote worker from home and everyone else lived in other states. Them's the breaks.
  • My Spouse's Friend's Spouse: Mr. Gamer has some buddies that he hangs out with on their guys' nights out. As of yet, I have not really clicked with any of his friends' wives. I just find that the odds are low where both husbands and both wives get along. So he has his guy friends and I have my female friends, and we just don't hang out as couples.
  • Family Functions: Friendships are kinda hit or miss with extended family since you can't really choose your relatives (or how far away they live). I've been very fortunate to bond with my mother-in-law, whereas I rarely see the other female relatives outside of holiday and birthday parties.

3 More Tips on Meeting Potential Friends

Before we end this article, here's some general advice and things to consider when looking for potential friends
  • Second Time's a Charm: Think about the most valuable friends you've had in the past and what they all had in common. If you only have a limited amount of time to spend with people at a party, try talking first to the ones that most resemble your BFFs personality-wise.
  • Opposites Attract: Yes, your odds of finding compatibility may be higher when you seek individuals who are very similar to you. However, don't forget the adage that "opposites attract." Your next hangout buddy doesn't necessarily have to have the same viewpoints, experiences, or even life stage as you (such as in mentor and mentee relationship). I love learning something new from someone who has traveled a different path in life. Remember that variety is the spice of life!
  • Never Say Never: Don't automatically talk yourself out of trying a friendship. We often form assumptions about individuals after meeting them once, and then presume that a relationship with them is doomed to fail. Case in point, Mr. Gamer didn't hit it off immediately with a fellow coworker, but after working together for several months, they later on became close friends with much to geek out about.
In Part 3 of the series, we'll continue our series by talking about how to develop friendships and invest in the people you care about. Now go forth and meet new people!

Question:
Where have you had the most success meeting potential friends?

Sunday, October 29, 2017

How to Make Friends as an Adult, Part 1: The Friendship Funnel

There's an art to making friends as an adult. Many studies and articles have been written about how easy it is to make friends in school because you're in constant proximity, but as adults we get busy with life – work, travel, the kids' soccer games, family commitments, etc. Our social circle (I'm talking about real friends, not social media followers) get smaller and smaller, and before you know it, your life has somehow become more isolated and, well, boring.

How to Make Friends as an Adult, Part 1 - The Friendship Funnel

Starting from Square One

When Mr. Gamer and I moved to another state to be closer to family, I was suddenly dropped into a world where I worked from home and knew no one except my husband and parents-in-law. Video chats with my old friends back home weren't cutting it; I was painfully lonely and desperate to meet new people. Over the course of three years, I developed a systematic method for finding and making friends when you're starting from zero.

Obviously, this technique may not be for everyone. Full disclosure: I am an introvert by nature that merely endures big gatherings and favors hanging out with friends individually. (In group settings, I feel like conversations stay in the shallow end of the pool and tend to be dominated by the most outgoing speakers.) I hate talking on the phone (so awkward) and prefer spending time doing fun activities or having face-to-face conversations. Unfortunately – as a working professional, wife, and now mom of young kids – it seems really hard to find other women who are willing to take the time to have a one-on-one meeting for the purpose of having fun.

The Friendship Funnel

Have you heard of the "sales funnel"? In the business world, it's the strategic process of converting a potential customer who's never heard of your company into a paying customer who can't live without your products. It's also described as a funnel because you may start off with a ton of prospects, but a lot of people will drop off along the way until you have just a handful left by comparison. In the same way, the friendship funnel is the relationship process of meeting people, finding out who you connect with, pursuing them, and then investing in the relationships that stick.

Friendship Funnel - How to Make New Friends as an Adult

1) Meet People

When describing how to make friends, I use a lot of dating analogies because they both have similar goals – you're actively trying to find good people who have something in common with you and might be worth forming a relationship with. In the book How to Get a Date Worth Keeping (which Mr. Gamer totally used to catch me), the author says you can't just pray for a spouse to magically drop into your lap and then stay in your house all day doing nothing. Unless your future partner happens to be the mailman, making friends and dating require you to get out there and meet new people. And honestly, it's a numbers game because the more individuals you meet, the more likely you'll find someone you really click with.

In Part 2 of this series, we'll dive into the best ways to meet people.

2) Filter People

Not everyone you encounter is going to like you (and vice versa). Remember that here in our imperfect world, you will inevitably run across people you don't get along with, so expect it and don't take it personally. Whether or not someone appreciates you and your awesome idiosyncrasies has no bearing on your worth in God's eyes.

Even if you and another person instantly connect upon first meeting, that person may not have the same need or time for friendship as you. In the book Friendship for Grown-Ups, the author describes people who happen to be in very different seasons of life. One woman may be looking for a casual workout buddy, while another may be needing a close confidant. One man may be recently retired with plenty of time on his hands, while another may already have too many commitments and a full dance card. So don't be hurt or offended if your "potential friend" doesn't have the same expectations as you. Just chalk it up to a mismatch in compatibility and move on.

3) Invest in People

As you gradually convert your list from "people I've met once" to "people who want to be friends," remember that it takes time, money, commitment, and emotional investment to maintain a healthy friendship. It's surprisingly easy for time to fly by and life to get busy until, before you know it, half a year has passed since you last talked to your "friend." Luckily, you won't need to invest an equal amount of effort into everyone. It's only natural that different people will fall into the buckets of Acquaintance, Friend, or Close Confidant. As your friendships develop and mature, you'll start to find your hangout buddies, couples friends, friends for a season, and so on.

In Part 3 of this series, I'll specifically address how to move an acquaintance into the friend zone (the good kind).

4) Repeat

The reality is that people change and sometimes relationships run their course. Your friends will move, find new jobs, get married, have kids, or just plain get weird on you. You may have a random fight and then nothing's ever the same again. The other person may stop texting back for no reason. On the other hand, sometimes life gets insanely crazy for you both, and you grow closer and stay best friends forever.

In Part 4 of this series, I'll cover a few real-life examples of my own friendships and how they've weathered over time.

Bottom line: don't let life get stagnant on you! Keep meeting new people and add them to your "friendship pipeline," no matter how old you are. Who knows, you may be lucky enough to meet your new BFF in your eighties and nineties. ( ˘⌣˘)♡(˘⌣˘ )

Question:
What tried and true ways have you used to make new friends as an adult?

Monday, October 23, 2017

50 Ways to Kill Your Fish: Impatience

This is a hard lesson to learn. When you first begin the hobby, it's so exciting and you just want beautiful fish in your aquarium now now now. You already went through the trouble of cycling your tank, so finally it's time to go on a huge fish shopping spree, right? Right?

Patience is key to keeping happy, healthy fish

Patience is key. Don't rush things. You hear that over and over again on the forums, but... I don't think there's really any way to comprehend how much waiting fish keeping requires until you kill a buncha fish and walk through that depression. Here are three real-life stories how I inadvertently killed my fish with impatience:

1) Quarantining multiple fish from different sources

"Hobbyist mediated pandemic" was a phrase I first heard from this awesome video on keeping discus. As soon as the speaker described the issue, I was shocked to discover the huge mistake I had been making. Nobody had ever told me this was wrong! You see, I was always diligent about quarantining new fish, but like many excited newbies, I was buying fish from multiple stores and quarantining them all together...

For example, I once purchased some marbled hatchetfish and put them into quarantine. A week later I decided to add one more neon tetra to my existing school, so I plopped the new guy in with the hatchetfish. Nothing wrong with that, right? Unbeknownst to me, the hatchetfish had ich that didn't show up during their two weeks in quarantine (also due to my impatience), and the neon tetra promptly caught it and was one of the first casualties. (╥_╥)

The problem is that fish from different sources will harbor different kinds of pathogens. By throwing creatures from three different pet stores together in quarantine, you're significantly upping your chances that someone's carrying something bad that's going to infect everyone.

Here's what to do instead: take your time, go to one shop to buy fish, quarantine them, and after they're fully done with quarantine, go to another shop to pick up more. Don't try to speed things up by overlapping quarantine times – patience.


Yes, this is proof of me creating the perfect storm for a "hobbyist mediated pandemic."

2) Buying new fish and returning them

This is basically a case of me horribly abusing the pet store return policy. (⇀‸↼‶) After my first community tank crashed, I started planning my perfect aquarium version 2.0 that combined a peaceful group of fish with a colorful male betta as the centerpiece. But it's hard to know if you're going to get a nice or naughty betta. So, while I was only buying from the same store, I was constantly mixing and matching different community fish and bettas in quarantine to see if I could find a combination where they all got along. And if there was aggression, then I would either return the bully or the victim. Yeah, don't do that.

Changing up roommates in rapid succession is very stressful, so make your decision and live with it. Or at the very least, slow down the exchange of fish (which means you can't rely on the return policy for buyer's remorse). Fully complete the quarantine process before adding new animals or rehoming them. This gives the fish time to get used to their unfamiliar environment, eat well, and build up their immunity again.

3) Making decisions when stuff is still unresolved

At one point, my melanoid axolotl Kalameet was in a hospital tank because he wasn't eating and seemed to have bad bloating in his stomach. I was tired of looking at an empty tank and started envisioning changes I wanted to make for his "homecoming." Maybe I could get a hardy java fern to replace the anubias congensis he had accidentally squashed. Maybe I could start quarantining some shrimp or white cloud mountain minnows to breed and serve as roommates/snacks. I had it all planned out and ready to execute, but.... God held me back. I know it's going to sound weird, but He told me to wait seven weeks before I bought any extra plants or feeder species. So I grumpily agreed. And you know what? That call for extra patience was correct. Despite my best efforts, Kalameet took a turn for the worse and passed away a few days later.

Black axolotl sitting on my anubias congensis
Back in the day, when Kalameet was happily crushing the poor anubias congensis

As sad as that story is, I'm so glad God asked me to take a pause. I already had the arduous task of tearing down and cleaning out Kalameet's tank, but at least I wasn't also loaded down with a bunch of minnows that I no longer needed. And not having the extra fish to take care of now means that I've been afforded a new opportunity – the freedom to choose whether I want to keep more fish, stick with axolotls, or quit the hobby all together. As of today, my seven weeks is still not up, so I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet. I'll keep you updated as I continue blogging about my fish keeping journey.

Question:
What do you think I should do – keep community fish, get another axolotl, or move on? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

50 Ways to Kill Your Fish: Uncycled Aquarium

Don't Panic About Aquarium Cycling!

Despite being a habitual researcher, I balked at learning about the aquarium cycle. It's because everyone made it sound so tedius! They would immediately dive into complex chemical terms and scientific names, and it made my eyes roll into my head in boredom. Here's the very simple, "Cycling for Dummies" explanation...

How to Cycle Your Aquarium

What Does Cycling an Aquarium Mean?

It means your fish or other aquatic animals have the ability to live in an aquarium without dying in their own waste (like ammonia and urea). This can be accomplished in several ways:
  1. Do frequent water changes to manually remove the waste. 
  2. Grow beneficial bacteria that will convert the fish waste into a less toxic chemical, which buys you more time between water changes.
    1. Use live plants (or algae) that will directly uptake ammonia and convert it into new leaves and plant growth.
    Note: That means that putting water in your tank and letting it sit without fish for a week will not cycle your tank (been there, done that). Cycling is a means of removing ammonia, not aging water. Also, plecos and other bottom dwellers do not eat poop; they make it. :)

    What is the Best Method of Cycling My Aquarium?

    This is a totally a matter of opinion, so I'll tell you my story. When I first started researching aquarium cycling, the most popular method people on the internet recommend is method #2, specifically using fishless cycling to grow beneficial bacteria. This involves pouring liquid ammonia (aka fake fish waste) into your tank as a food source for the bacteria and then waiting till you grow enough bacteria to consume the ammonia. Since I did not have a source of beneficial bacteria to kick start the growth in my tank, a couple of months passed without anything happening so I gave up. (And apparently this is not uncommon.)

    The next thing I tried was fish-in cycling, which means putting a very small number of fish in your tank and growing beneficial bacteria off their waste. Unlike using liquid ammonia, having actual fish poop is a surefire way that bacteria will come. I used two cory catfish in a 20-gallon tank, fed them lightly, and carefully monitored the water parameters. Contrary to popular belief, they thrived without incident and naturally grew beneficial bacteria over the course of several weeks.


    Unfortunately, after a couple of encounters with disease, I had to wipe out all my good bacteria with the bad when sanitizing my aquarium. That's when I discovered the miracle of live plants. I'd always used fake plants before because a) live plants seemed difficult and b) I hated the algae problems that seemed to come with them. However, aquascaped tanks full of foliage looked so beautiful, so I decided to give it a shot with my nano tank. There are many super easy low-light aquarium plant species that can be tied to a rock and basically treated like a fake plant. The difference was incredible though. I did an experiment to see how long I could go without changing the water, and even a month later, ammonia and nitrites were still 0 ppm and the nitrate levels were only 5 to 10 ppm! Σ(°ロ°) That never happened in my tanks with no plants and beneficial bacteria only. Surprisingly, using live plants for biological filtration seems to be one of fastest ways to cycle your aquarium (assuming you're starting from scratch like I was).

    Betta tank with narrow leaf java fern, windelov lace java fern, and anubias nana petite
    All the java fern and anubias plants are tied onto rocks or décor that are easily moved for cleaning.

    Bottom line: how does nature clean up fish poop? It gets washed away or diluted (method #1) from rain and other water sources, and bacteria and plants (methods #2 and 3) break it down as food. I highly recommend using all three methods to keep your fish happy and your water clean.

    P.S. A huge thanks to Aquarium Co-Op's video that covers this subject more in-depth. I just discovered Cory's YouTube channel and I really appreciate how he speaks from his own experiences, not just what is repeated on the internet.

    Thursday, October 12, 2017

    My Husband Left His Dream Job as a Video Game Developer

    pair of emperor penguins
    Sticking by my soulmate "for richer or for poorer" (Source: Christopher Michel)

    I always imagined my husband would be someone like my dad – tall, gangling, wears glasses, has a solid job as an engineer. Mr. Gamer is tall with a sense of humor, but that's where the similarities end. He's barrel-chested, has perfect eyesight, and holds an insanely unstable career as a video game developer. In the first four years we were married, he worked at four different game studios. Let me tell you how each of his jobs ended:
    1. Game got canceled
    2. Studio got bought out
    3. Studio closed
    4. Game got canceled 
    As you can see, the success rate of video game studios and their products is not great. Why does this perpetual cycle of job loss happen? This guy answered it better than me (pardon my paraphrasing):
    Since the industry is project-based, job length tends to be directly associated with product development cycles. Companies tend to dump staff once a project ships since they don't need a full production team for starting development on the next project. Now the nicer companies will use temporary contract hires for short term production staffing needs. This lets the employee know that they likely don't have a paycheck when the project ends. However, the big publishers regularly cut even full-time staff once the Christmas games are sent to manufacturing.

    The other piece is that when finishing up a title, employees are more likely to look around at other options. If you've just shipped your third football title and are burned out on the genre, you tend to wait until the game is done and then find another job somewhere else.

    While there are some developers that have spent an entire career at a single company, what is far more common is finishing 1-2 games at a studio and then moving off to another one.
    It's similar to the movie industry: once you finish a film, everyone splits ways and finds another project to work on. However, unlike Hollywood where short-term contractors are protected by unions, the video game business has no such safeguarding in place.

    Mr. Gamer says that's why most game developers (unless you're in management) tend to be in their 20's – fresh out of college, willing to work long hours, and happy to uproot and change companies every year or so. Now that my husband's been married a decade with two young kids who love to tackle him every chance they get, he's not so happy with the unpredictability of his career. And he's tired of having his hard work not amount to squat, either from too many cooks in the kitchen or from another project failing to launch. Call it a midlife crisis, I guess, but Mr. Gamer is now in the process of trying to untangle himself from his longtime career mistress, the video game industry. (⊙_⊙)


    lion dad with lion child
    Aww, who wouldn't want to spend more time with their mini-me? (Source: TNS Sofres)

    The big question Mr. Gamer is wrestling with is what to do as an ex-designer. Artists can get work as artists, programmers can continue programming, producers usually become project managers... but designers don't seem to be applicable anywhere else. Their job skills include making game mechanics, the story and characters, maps, and/or scenarios. Not very useful in the "real world" outside of video games

    Despite this long season of not having any idea what our next steps should be, God has been so faithful in providing for us day after day. And there's been such incredible spiritual growth in both of us, born out of these trials. I feel like I'm a completely different woman, wife, and mother than I was a year ago. Our story ending is still unwritten as of yet, but I'm so hopeful that the light at the end of the tunnel is near. Pray that Mr. Gamer will be able to find work that pays the bills, has good work-life balance, provides him creative control, and isn't too soul-crushing. 八(^□^*)